A new suite of research on innovative process heat technology that doesn’t use fossil fuels has been released by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

Process heat, in the form of steam, hot water or gases, contributes approximately 9 percent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, with about 60 percent of the energy required provided by fossil fuels.

EECA’s chief executive Andrew Caseley says there has never been a better time to start switching to renewable energy for process heat needs.

‘Innovations in technology mean there are excellent alternatives to using carbon-intensive fuels for process heat activities such as sterilisation, pasteurisation, drying and heating. We’re highlighting the opportunities, applications and case studies of how some of these technologies work in real world situations’.

‘The research provides a really useful starting point for businesses and organisations to look at what their process heat needs are, and what other options there are to provide that energy or complete that process’.

‘They range from wood or electric boiler systems to replace those that run on gas or coal, to more innovative options like using ultra-violet light or ultrasound instead of steam for sterilisation and drying, as well as microwave and infrared heating.’

The research includes:

  • an International Technology Scan
  • technical guides on electric heating options in industry, and
  • University of Waikato analysis on options to reduce New Zealand's process heat emissions.

The dairy, meat, food and beverage, pulp and paper, and wood sectors are large users of process heat in New Zealand that could benefit from technology changes.

Mr Caseley says organisations looking to improve in this area need to first do a full analysis of the opportunities to change and consider how long-term their thinking and planning is.

‘The first move is always optimisation – using energy as efficiently as possible – and considering demand reduction. Then organisations should identify if more energy efficient equipment can deliver the same results or better, while reducing emissions.’

You can find more information on the Process Heat in New Zealand (PHiNZ) initiative here(external link), including fact sheets on how different sectors in the New Zealand economy use process heat, and analysis on process heat decision making.