A clean outlook
Negotiated by representatives of 196 parties and adopted by consensus in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, the Paris Agreement was reported at the time to have been a landmark moment on the path of the world’s transition to a sustainable energy economy. Truth be told though, it has been widely accepted for many years that the planet needs to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy if it is to combat the rise in global temperatures.
Established in 2009, Viking Heat Engines is an example of one company that has been contributing to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, in this instance by generating electricity and high-temperature heat from waste heat and other low-temperature heat sources. “Looking at the trends going forward, while it’s clear that fossil fuels will remain an important part of the energy mix, it’s just as obvious that the world needs more sources of renewable energy,” begins Viking Heat Engines’ Managing Director, Tor Hodne. “While solar and wind power are excellent sources in their own right, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, which means that neither of these technologies provide 24/7 base load supply. What this means is that, particularly in emerging markets, we need to complement renewables with energy efficient measures if we are to reach the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement.”
It’s in both in these emerging markets and in developed regions where the burning of fossil fuels has resulted in not only the creation of greenhouse gas emissions, but also a pattern whereby, according to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the US Department of Energy, more than 50 per cent of all the energy being produced today is being wasted. It’s here that Viking Heat Engines has channelled its efforts and resources and developed two state-of-the-art technologies, the CraftEngine and HeatBooster.
Working in partnership with AVL, one of the world’s leading engine design companies, the company has developed a flexible pistonbased, heavy-duty system that operates on the organic Rankine cycle (ORC), the core component that makes both products so unique. “Today, we are operating with the fifth generation of these piston machines, which we have perfected to the point where they boast the highest levels of reliability and durability, and can operate 24/7 for a least 80,000 hours,” Tor continues.
Clean electricity from waste heat
Turning to each individual technology, the CraftEngine has been specially engineered to transform low-temperature waste heat, from 80 degrees centigrade and upwards, into electricity. The system is also capable of producing usable heat in cases where input temperatures are higher than 150 degrees centigrade, and automatically adjusts to changes in temperature and power input, retaining the highest level of performance.
“What we typically look to do is to identify opportunities to combine the CraftEngine with waste heat producing hardware, specifically that which is sold in large volumes,” Tor explains. “An example of this would be marine combustion engines. One of the things we want to do is establish a program of retrofitting our systems to run on the waste heat generated by these engines, either from the exhaust gas being produced or from the cooling circuit, for which there isn’t really any commercial technologies available today. By installing our CraftEngine on-board such vessels, we will be able to produce a certain amount of electricity from that process, allowing the ship to reduce power from or even turn off its auxiliary engines and run from what is essentially ‘reusable energy’. This in turn reduces fuel consumption and ultimately carbon dioxide emissions.”
The same principle can be applied to other applications, such as diesel, gasoline or gas gen-sets, biomass waste incinerators and waste incinerators. “An important effect of our technologies is that we can turn things like waste and garbage into commodities with a value. If you can put a value on such a thing then people and communities become more inclined to collect it and dispose of it in a responsible manner,” Tor enthuses.
When it comes to the CraftEngine, the ‘holy grail’, as Tor refers to it, is the incorporation of geothermal applications. “One of the challenges this industry sector currently has is that you have to drill quite deep into the ground to access the temperatures currently needed to operate geothermal power stations,” he says. “With our technologies, which operate efficiently at temperatures of 100 degrees centigrade, it’s a whole different situation. It means that we can drill to much shallower depths, which opens up an entirely new market for geothermal applications.”
Giving industries less reason to pollute
Designed to power ones’ processes without using fossil fuels, Viking Heat Engines’ HeatBooster produces clean heat up to 160 degrees centigrade from waste heat and other low-temperature sources. “There are countless industrial processes that require heat, and often at temperatures above 100 degrees centigrade,” Tor says. “This means that until recently, heat generated from industrial processes at a range of approximately 70 degrees centigrade to 90 degrees centigrade would often be wasted. Our HeatBooster takes this heat and lifts it back to a range that allows it to be reused.”
There are several industries that have shown an interest in the HeatBooster, and this summer Viking Heat Engines will install its technology at the premises of a major brick producer. The installation is part of a six million euro EU-research project led by the Austrian Institute of Technology and is expected to generate annual energy savings of 6000 MWh and stop CO2 emissions of about 1500 tons, which is equivalent to taking 980 cars off the road.
With its technologies gaining increasing traction and interest from companies throughout the world, Viking Heat Engines received a further boost of its own in December 2017, with the announcement that the European Investment Bank (EIB) had granted financing of up to 30 million euros in the business as part of its plan to invest in new technologies that focus on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
“With the help of this EIB financing we will embark on a rapid growth programme, which includes initiating full-scale production and working to ensure that we have larger volumes of our products coming off of our production line here in Germany,” Tor adds. “This will involve plans to expand our CraftEngines from their current sizes of some tens of kilowatts to some hundred kilowatts, and our HeatBooster up to a thermal power in the megawatts range. At the same time, we will continue to grow the company organically, working hard to sign agreements with large-scale distributors that are keen to bring our products into their own portfolio.”
Viking Heat Engines
Products: Heat recovery systems and industrial heat pumps