EIA discussion paper calls for expanded research into CHP cycle implementation

Published on July 29, 2016 by Alyssa Michaud

A recent discussion paper published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) compiled survey data on electricity generators to assess the state of the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) cycles used by generators to reduce wasted heat and increase energy efficiency.

The EIA paper distinguishes between two types of CHP – topping cycles and bottoming cycles. Topping cycles repurpose the heat created as a by-product of a generating process, such a gas turbine, to provide hot water or space heating for a site. Bottoming cycles, in contrast, function by converting excess heat from systems such as furnaces into power production.

The potential of bottoming cycles to increase efficiency is significantly underutilized at present, the paper reports. Implementation of improved bottoming cycle CHPs poses unique challenges to technicians, however, which the EIA works to address in itd analysis.

Identifying iron and steel, glass, and cement as industries in which expanded bottoming cycles could have the greatest impact, the EIA recommended the harnessing of high-temperature waste streams issuing from these facilities as points at which CHP processes could greatly improve efficiency.

The EIA has called for further research into bottoming cycle CHP, pointing to the heat energy that is otherwise being wasted in energy-intensive process industries.