Large scale heat pumps: from waste heat to useful heat

Large scale heat pumps have recently been at the center of increasingly successful attempts for waste heat recovery and sustainable heating. 

As reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions remain a key goal for operators, large scale heat pumps are becoming essential for developing heating that employs waste heat and is thus more environmentally friendly.

This is particularly true for both district heating initiatives and for developing heat that can be employed for industrial purposes. While current access to heat below 100 °C presents no interest for industrial uses, large scale heat pumps are playing a role in the revalorization of such heat and achieving waste heat recovery. 

So much so that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change initiative mentions waste heat recovery as one of the crucial strategies to reduce harmful emissions to the atmosphere. By using large scale heat pumps, the industry can thus move away from conventional, fossil-fuel boilers, effectively accomplishing decarbonization.

What are large scale heat pumps

Large scale heat pumps are systems designed to provide efficient heating or cooling on significant scales. Commonly used in commercial and industrial applications, they’re able to meet the heating and cooling demands of large buildings, facilities, or industrial processes. 

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The primary function of any heat pump is to transfer heat from one location to another, typically from a lower-temperature heat source to a higher-temperature heat sink. In the case of large scale heat pumps, the equipment is able to work on high-temperature operating ranges and can serve large scale environments or projects.

Some benefits of large scale heat pumps

  1. Energy efficiency: large scale heat pumps are known for their energy efficiency, meaning they use less energy to upgrade heat to a higher temperature. When in waste heat recovery mode, they in fact retrieve heat that would otherwise be wasted.
  2. Sustainable heat source options: large scale heat pumps are versatile, meaning they can utilize a multitude of heat sources, such as ambient air, water bodies (rivers, lakes, or oceans), or geothermal sources.  In fact, they can integrate renewable energy sources, being able to upgrade heat that would otherwise not be usable.
  3. Move away from fossil fuels: being powered by electricity (instead of fossil fuels), these systems can be more environmentally friendly than conventional heating methods

How large scale heat pumps allow waste heat recovery

First of all, let’s look at the working principle of heat pumps. Their role is to transfer heat from a lower-temperature source to a higher-temperature sink. 


When it comes to large scale heat pumps and their potential for waste heat recovery, what these extremely powerful heat pumps can do is to turn low grade rejected heat into usable heat.

As such, the amount of energy required to provide useful heat is reduced, as the heat pump is able to take waste heat and increase its temperature.

Thus, the key here is the capacity to extract heat from a relatively low-temperature source and then upgrade it to a higher temperature, making it suitable for space heating, industrial processes, or other applications. 

The result is a reduction of the amount of primary energy (e.g., electricity or fuel) required to produce the desired heating effect.

This waste heat can be generated as a byproduct of industrial processes or other activities. In turn, large scale heat pumps are able to capture this waste heat and elevate its temperature, making it useful.

In fact, current applications being explored involve the integration of large scale heat pumps into outstandingly efficient and sustainable district heating networks. Other applications involve the use of industrial heat pumps in sectors such as the laundry industry, paper manufacturing and sewage infrastructure. 

At Araner, we are committed to generate sustainable and cost-efficient heating infrastructures. As such, we are involved in developing highly-efficient district heating initiatives where large scale heat pumps play a crucial role in achieving projects that are sustainable and efficient. Get in touch with us and learn more about the role of large scale heat pumps in turning waste heat into useful heat, and how to incorporate them in your project.

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