INEGI coordinates project EcoTermIP that aims to promote the energy efficiency of Industrial Thermal Processes

28 - 03 - 2019

Europe is currently facing significant energy challenges that can be seen from a variety of perspectives: stability and prediction of energy costs; environmental and climatic impact resulting from energy production and consumption; security of the continuous supply of energy in the geostrategic policy context related to the control of energy supply; the capacity to generate local investment and, consequently, new jobs; and focus on innovation and technology.

In this context, technological development to support the management of thermal energy plays a fundamental role. In fact, there is a tendency to equate energy with electricity when actually it accounts for less than 25% of final energy consumption in Europe. Renewable heating and cooling is underestimated in the energy sector and it was recognized in 2011 by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) in its strategic publication "RE-thinking 2050" as a sector, heating and cooling remains the the largest contributor to energy needs by 2050. The market for renewable heating and cooling, which includes domestic and industrial applications of biomass and solar thermal and geothermal applications, will develop rapidly.

Specifically, in the case of Portugal, the promotion of energy efficiency and the use of endogenous renewable energy is of extreme importance since there is no extraction / production of fossil fuels and as such the national trade balance in this sector is quite unbalanced. This concern is even more evident in the industrial sector where, in addition to problems related to polluting emissions, the energy bill is often too heavy, making it necessary to act with regard to the rationalization of energy use and the use of renewable energy sources.

Thus, it is fundamental to optimize and rationalize the use of thermal energy in industrial thermal processes, promote the generation of thermal energy via renewable energy sources (namely solar thermal and biomass) and apply innovative technologies for heat recovery.

Based on these considerations emerges the project designated EcoTermIP, that aims to promote the Eco-efficiency of Thermal Processes for Competitiveness and Sustainability of Portuguese Industry in the sectors of metal mechanics, ceramics, dairy agro-food and meat products manufacturing.

Liderado pelo Instituto de Ciência e Inovação em Engenharia Mecânica e Engenharia Industrial (INEGI) com a parceria do Instituto de Soldadura e Qualidade (ISQ) tem como seu principal objetivo efetivar a transferência do conhecimento cientifico e tecnológico detido pelos membros do consórcio, de boas práticas, tecnologias e metodologias para a promoção da ecoeficiência dos processos produtivos. 

Led by INEGI with the partnership of the Institute of Welding and Quality (ISQ), its main objective is to transfer the scientific and technological knowledge held by the members of the consortium, technologies and methodologies to promote the eco-efficiency of production processes.

The EcoTermIP project is focused on improving eco-efficiency in strategic sectors and of relevant interest to the Portuguese economy, and so the choice fell on the sector of metallurgy and metal-mechanics, whose weight in the manufacturing industry in Portugal (based on INE data of 2016) is 22% for the number of companies and 23% for turnover. The ceramic sector, in turn, is the utility and decorative ceramic subsector with the 2nd largest volume of business within the sector, concentrating a greater number of companies, the most employer and one of the largest exporters. The beef and veal manufacturing sector is the subsector with the highest volume of business (16%), and with more employability (15%) in the food industry and finally the dairy sector, also of significant importance in the portuguese food industry

The project is therefore of great relevance not only to the sectors targeted but to the entire economy and the general public as well. While the project will prioritize the involvement of companies in the sectors mentioned, namely in the various awareness-raising and knowledge transfer activities, the results of the project, including recommendations to promote the rational use of thermal energy and integration of technologies based on renewable energies in companies, are applicable and relevant to other sectors of activity at a national level.

INEGI and ISQ, with the support of AIMMAP, ANIL, APICER and APIC, will develop throughout the next two years, a plan of action that contemplates four actions that, taken as a whole, constitute a solid strategy in order to respond to the critical factors and market failures identified in the reflection process.

The EcoTermIP project incorporates in its structure several actions that it proposes to carry out, beginning with a baseline reference diagnosis and a general mapping of the main technologies with impact on the thermal energy consumption of each target sector.

Since it is a project concerning the transference of scientific and technological knowledge to the business fabric, several typologies of intervention are foreseen. Interaction initiatives and demonstration of technological knowledge will be carried out to lead to economic valorisation, such as: actions to disseminate new knowledge and technologies generated through R&D, actions for economic valorisation of research results and promotion of initiatives that enhance the production of relevant information in the context of technology valorisation and transfer, namely roadmapping and technological surveillance.

The communication and dissemination of the project has already begun with the creation of its visual identity and the organization of the project launch event that took place on April 9th. The project will also be disseminated in the media and social networks and through participation in congresses and symposiums, and a closing seminar is also planned for the end of the project.

The consortium of the EcoTermIP project believes that it will contribute to enhance the Portuguese industry, fostering innovation and exploitation of technological opportunities, introducing new knowledge that will contribute to competitiveness and sustainability, and should result in a positive economic impact in the industrial sectors concerned, fostering the emergence in the Portuguese industry of knowledge-intensive companies.