With Imagination and Innovation, Industry Can Tackle Climate Change

The lower cost of renewable fuels such as solar power is impacting positively on the Energy sector, and they may soon be cheaper than fossil fuel. The Chemical and Process industries are focusing on energy integration in cooling and heating. In the Refrigeration industry, natural refrigerants are the key to tackling environmental issues.

Chemical and Process

Marko Rantala, Sales Director at Vahterus

Many of our customers are currently focusing on environmentally friendly cooling and heating projects of our customers, together with their surrounding industries and societies. The Hungarian manufacturer of bioethanol, Pannonia Bio (see page 27), for example, uses the energy from process steam to produce vapour. A Chinese chemical plant (see page 34) utilises the energy needed to evaporate liquid ethene to cool down its processes.

The need for energy integration grows as we fight against the climate crisis. Process industry offers a huge potential for manufacturing district heating. Larger units, such as oil refineries, create heat energy that could be transported further away. This has recently been researched in Finland, as Helsinki considers energy solutions to replace coal. The Porvoo refinery and petrochemical plants could easily provide 25% of the heat energy that Helsinki requires. There have been several alternative solutions, such as direct manufacturing of district heat using process heat, or indirect manufacturing using heatpump technology. Diverse expertise and cooperation between different areas of technology are key to finding the best solutions.

Weakening global economic growth is yet to affect the demand on the markets, and investment in the chemical and process industries has remained strong. The reputation of Plate & Shell heat exchangers as reliable and safe solutions has increased their demand. The Vahterus product family grows this year, with the new plates PSHE 12 and 5SH, which are designed especially for energy recovery. Let’s continue to do well in the future!

Energy

Tobias Häggblom, Business Manager at Vahterus

2019 has started well in the energy sector. The dive in the price of oil at the end of the 2018 was alarming, but fortunately it seems that all is now back on track. While, at the start of the year, the oil price was close to 40USD, it is now closer to 70USD. With these prices we can expect a stable number of projects. Even if oil production is not the only target, the oil price still has a great impact on investment decisions throughout the Energy sector.

The decreasing price of renewable fuels will have a great impact on the industry in the near future. The price for solar power has dropped as much as 75% since 2009. According to some experts, renewable energy will soon be cheaper than fossil fuel.

The world’s demand for gas is not slowing down. This is mainly driven by the demand for cleaner fuel to reduce CO2 emissions. New-found resources and gas fracking are also keeping the prices at a lower level for users.

China recently signed a contract to invest in a large arctic LNG plant, together with the Russian natural gas producer Novatek. This is only one of several LNG plants being built in the coming years. Germany is also investing in two LNG import terminals, which will be located in Brunsbuettel, Stade or Wilhelmshaven.

The gas sector offer a great opportunity for Vahterus in the energy field. The demand for light-weight, leakproof construction, especially in offshore installations, makes Plate & Shell a good fit in these applications. Cryogenic applications in particular, where only stainless steel can be used, are offering a major advantage since we can use fewer materials compared to traditional technologies

Refrigeration

Heikki Oksanen, Business Manager at Vahterus

Environmental issues, and climate warming in particular, were the key themes of the parliamentary elections in Finland in April 2019. The same themes are also provoking discussion in other countries. Many types of measures have been suggested to stop climate change, from banning internal combustion engines and fossil fuels to reducing private motoring.

No-one has mentioned natural refrigerants and their significance for the environment, even though greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced considerably by replacing R134a, for example, with natural refrigerants such as ammonia. R134a has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) factor of 1,430. The GWP factor of ammonia is 0.

All in all, we consume too much. In our era, shopping has become idealised. At the core of consumption is the fashion industry, which generates 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Energy savings in industry are not discussed enough, even though there are major opportunities for energy efficiency. Industrial heat pumps with a capacity of more than 25 MW are a good example. Their payback period is usually less than five years.

Saving and the circular economy are powerful tools in mitigating climate change. In many developed countries, the state supports energy-efficient investments. Climate change is also a business opportunity, which can benefit the fields of energy production, industry, transport, housing and agriculture. The hole detected in the ozone layer in 1985 caused people to change their ways – and now it is recovering.