Is waste heat recovery too good to be true?

Everyone's ideal is to be off the grid, no longer needing a connection to the local electrical utility company, while still functioning in the normal manner. All that's required is the ability to self-generate a sufficient number of kilowatts in a reliable manner and continuously.

The same can be said for disconnecting from the local natural gas utility company. Are these merely the pipedreams of the naive?

Apparently not. A while back, Chris Nelson from Longren & Parks, a PR firm in Minnetonka, Minnesota, tipped me off to a piece that appeared in the Star Tribune, a newspaper out of the Twin Cities. According to the article, a 13,000-sq-ft business is able to consume zero natural gas during several months of the heating season.

The secret lies in a major focus on waste heat recovery, enough to permit that naïve pipedream of disconnectedness to become someone’s reality.

Bit by bit, the company’s owner is taking the steps needed to get ever closer to energy independence. If this pipedream can be achieved in a small business having relatively limited financial resources, there’s no reason why large industrial plants can’t achieve something similar.

The rates we pay for our utilities probably won’t trend downward during the next 100 years. The return on investment can’t be anything but positive. If you think long run, the payback period is acceptable.

It sound too good. What am I missing here?

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  • <p>Yes it could easily be true because in order to make all of the many coolers and freezers do their job, refrigeration compressors must reject a huge amount of heat. And it's not too hard to capture and re-use it. Paying the gas company to heat the building after throwing away all of that heat seems wasteful, this store owner is on the right track. But it seems to me that in the case of a grocery store, in addition to the heat being used in the winter for space heating, it could also be used year round to provide hot water for the food preparation, food service areas, the butcher the bakery operation, store cleaning etc. which all consume a lot of hot water in a grocery store. I hope they are doing that as well.</p> <p>The operating theory of heat recovery is quite simple and heat recovery has been around a long time, although people are always surprised when they see it in a small business because historically it has only been used by very large operations.</p> <p>I hope this isn't considered spam - there is a web site that has a lot of information about this type of refrigerant heat recovery I would like to share with anyone here who wants to know more about it -</p> <p>Thanks for posting on this, it is a topic that does not get nearly the attention it deserves.</p> <p></p>


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