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?