Many engineers reject low-level heat from process operations because they can't find suitable heat sinks to effectively utilize the recovered heat. It's not uncommon for plants to reject either the excess heat directly or vent the low-pressure steam generated from the waste heat. So, plants with excess low-level heat rejection should find the success story of a new technology implemented by a natural gas pipeline company, in collaboration with three partners, an eye opener for recovering wasted energy.
Kinder Morgan owns the 436-mile Trailblazer natural gas pipeline that winds through parts of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. Booster compressor stations located at appropriate intervals maintain gas pressure as it travels along the pipeline. These compressor stations are often run by turbines, which exhaust waste heat during the compression process. There's no steam demand, as these stations require only a small amount of electricity for instrument control panels, lighting and minor needs that are usually supplied by the local utility company.