Water and Energy for Climate Change – Experimental garden for the industry

In Europe a large part of waste heat is lost and discharged via cooling water into surface water (once through coolers) and the atmosphere (cooling towers) with large emissions of Greenhouse Gas, and lost in water, electricity and chemicals as a consequence. 

In the Climate-KIC pathfinder project Water and Energy for Climate Change (WE4CC-I) (2012/2013) several new value chains have been successfully identified by TNO, Laborelec and TU-Berlin to economically utilize this waste heat, with temperatures below 60 oC, for the production of high quality water from aqueous feedstocks and for the recovery of concentrated hygroscopic salt (desiccant) solutions as used for climate control (i.e. temperature and humidity control) in buildings and greenhouses.  

Innovative water producing technologies

The Climate-KIC innovation project WE4CC-II (2013/2016) aims at technical demonstration, business case evaluation and market implementation of the earlier identified value propositions. A mobile and modular Membrane Distillation (MD) demo-plant (integrating two innovative water producing technologies Memstill and MD-HEX) is being built and will be operated on location. The technological, ecological and business performance for the production of high-pressure boiler water from surface water for power plants (by Laborelec and GDF-Suez) will be evaluated. In addition, the production of drinking water will be demonstrated by seawater desalination using solar PVT-panels from Naked Energy Ltd in Malta. Similarly, a mobile desiccants demo plant is being built and operated on location for the climate control of a typical greenhouse and botanical garden in Berlin. This unit will be connected to the MD-demo to maximally exploit the available waste heat by operating in a cascading mode. 

These demo units serve as an experimental garden for the industry (open infrastructure) to further enhance innovation and business generation. The project is therefore also open for implementation of other promising applications. For all business cases, a market entry and valorization strategy will be developed. 

Spectacular electricity reduction

Concerning climate effects, both MD-installations behave as a (demi-)water producing once-through cooler. Due to exploitation of waste heat, 50 to 75% less electricity is needed for production of (demi-)water relative to other technologies. By exploiting the remaining waste heat effluent stream for recovery of desiccants, an additional 30 to 50% electricity reduction can be realized in relation to fossil energy driven climate control technologies. Thus cascading Memstill with desiccants recovery in new waste heat–water–desiccants networks allow the overall exploitation of waste heat to increase over 90%. 

The Climate-KIC network has helped to make new partnerships, to identify new business cases and to bring ideas to the market faster.