Many existing technologies demonstrate that it is possible to move beyond the use of heat to drive chemical and industrial processes.1
Commercialised examples include:
- Enzyme-based detergents that operate at lower temperatures
- Manufacturing components using plastic composite materials instead of metals
- Ionic solvents
- New catalysts and fluxes that reduce the energy required to drive chemical processes or clean surfaces
- The use of pre-painted materials.
Specific examples include:
- Cement – Geopolymer cements can be used for many purposes for which standard Portland cement is currently used.2 Portland cement manufacture requires processes that reach over 1000°C. However, geopolymer cement can be made using waste streams at room temperature and has no need for industrial process heating.
- Organic fertiliser – Nitrogen-based artificial fertilisers are made through processes which require high temperatures (300–400°C) and pressures (200–300 atmospheres). Ammonia requires at least 28 GJ per tonne to produce.3 Conversely, organic fertiliser can be made with no external heat or energy sources, through vertical composting unit technologies, which utilise heat generated naturally from organic decomposition.
It is also possible to use alternative industrial processes to steam to deliver the same product while expending less energy. For example:
- Replacing steam with hot water where appropriate will reduce energy consumption by lowering the boiler water output temperature and reducing losses associated with managing high pressure steam.
- Recycling content in material manufacture contributes to energy savings because recycling processes can be run at lower temperatures compared to the full-cycle processing of raw materials.4
- Optimising the water content of bricks before kiln-firing has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of heat and time required for the process.5
Footnotes ~ Show 5 footnotes
- Gillett, S (2002) Nanotechnology: Clean Energy and Resources for the Future, Foresight Institute, USA (Opens in a new window) PDF 2.3 MB ↩
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (2011) Geopolymers: building blocks of the future ↩
- Chaudhary, T.R., 2001: Technological measures of improving productivity: Opportunities and constraints. Presented at the Fertilizer Association of India Seminar ’Fertiliser and Agriculture Future Directions’, New Delhi, India, 6–8 December 2001 cited in Bernstein, L., J. Roy, K. C. Delhotal, J. Harnisch, R. Matsuhashi, L. Price, K. Tanaka, E. Worrell, F. Yamba, Z. Fengqi, 2007: Industry. In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change B. Metz, O.R. Davidson, P.R. Bosch, R. Dave, L.A. Meyer (eds), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. ↩
- Rethink Education Centre – Material reprocessing (Opens in a new window) PDF 516 KB ↩
- Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (2009) Case Study Update – Midland Brick (Opens in a new window) PDF 263 KB ↩