Partnership amongst NSERC, Hydro-Québec,
Towards Energy Self-sufficiency for Industry
Sherbrooke, February, 2008 – Imagine dairy farms, grocery stores transforming their exhaust heat into renewable energy. This is the vision that the new NSERC Chair in Industrial Energy Efficiency at the Université de Sherbrooke is trying to make a reality.
Launched today through a partnership between the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Hydro-Québec, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Rio Tinto Alcan and the Université de Sherbrooke, this industrial chair will be endowed with a financial investment of some $2.1 M over five years, as well as an investment in equipment and services valued at over $2.5 M.
Under the direction of Professor Nicolas Galanis of the Faculty of Engineering, the activities conducted by the chair will focus on three themes reflecting current industrial energy consumption and its future trends: advanced refrigeration technology, industrial waste heat recovery and reducing the energy intensity of industrial processes. The projects and prototypes that are developed will apply to many sectors of activity.
“This research on energy conversion and transfer will improve energy efficiency for industry, particularly in fields using thermal energy,” said Professor Jacques Beauvais, Vice-Rector, Research at the Université de Sherbrooke. “In addition to training highly qualified staff, the chair will also provide solutions for achieving better energy savings and the greenhouse gas reduction sought by the public, government and industry.”
“Natural Resources Canada is pleased to be participating in the establishment of this chair in industrial energy efficiency at the Université de Sherbrooke,” said the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources. “Our collaboration on this research project complements the work already ongoing through the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation, a partnership between government and industry that seeks to improve Canada’s industrial energy efficiency. Our $3.6-billion ecoENERGY initiatives are also helping Canadians use energy more efficiently, boost renewable energy supplies and develop cleaner energy technologies.”
Dr. Suzanne Fortier, President of NSERC, highlighted Chairholder Galanis’ solid expertise. “Dr. Galanis has been acclaimed internationally for his expertise in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. He is the ideal person to develop ways of increasing energy efficiency in industrial processes. The environmental benefits of reduced energy use will be felt by all of us.”
Hydro-Québec is contributing $750,000 to this project through the Campagne Ensemble: “Supporting research and innovation efforts is a priority for our organization, and this chair represents an important lever in the field of industrial energy efficiency in Québec”, stated Denis Faubert, Director of the Institut de recherche d’Hydro-Québec.
Rio Tinto Alcan is proud to be associated with this new chair,“ said François Tremblay, Director of the Arvida Research and Development Centre of Rio Tinto Alcan. ”This initiative is designed to encourage the training of young scientists, who are aware to the needs of today’s industry. For Rio Tinto Alcan, energy efficiency has been a priority for many years. The energy efficiency chair was created to promote the training of the next generation in this field, which will, in turn, help us pursue our efforts in research and development"
In arenas and supermarkets
According to NRCan estimates, approximately 10 percent of all energy consumed in Canada is used to produce cold, including air conditioning. An improvement of only 1 percent in the energy efficiency of all refrigeration systems would produce savings of 8,500 TJ/year, or the equivalent of 1.3 million barrels of oil, and a significant reduction in harmful environmental effects. The first part of the research that will be conducted by Professor Galanis and his team will relate to advanced refrigeration technologies.
“We are working on a magnetic refrigeration prototype that could replace conventional equipment in supermarkets,” explained Professor Galanis. “The ambient noise of these machines, the fact that the refrigerants have to be continually replaced and the damage they cause to the ozone layer would all be things of the past.”
The use of CO2 in low-temperature cooling systems, such as those for freezing food or maintaining products in low-temperature supermarket coolers, would reduce the size and power of the cooling equipment and its energy consumption. The integrated design for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems should include the recovery and use of heat given off by the refrigeration systems of arenas, supermarkets, cold storage facilities and certain industries such as agrifood. Currently, most of theses systems give off more heat than buildings need for their heating requirements.
Recovering energy from heat waste
In industry, a great deal of energy is lost in the form of heat waste due to the ineffectiveness of industrial processes. This problem will be the second issue dealt with by the Chair. “Because industry consumes 40 percent of Canada’s energy and around only one quarter ends up in the final product, the rest is lost in the environment,” explained Professor Galanis. “Why not recover this energy with heat transfer fluid, which would transport this heat to a heat engine to be converted into electricity?” Hydro-Québec and Rio Tinto Alcan have shown a strong interest in this project.
Many sectors would beneficiate from such a process. “In dairies especially, the recovery of heat rejected during the production of powdered milk could be exploited,” said Professor Galanis. “Because dairies need heat to pasteurize the milk and then cold to conserve it, an absorption system would make it possible to produce heat and cold as required, using rejects from other processes.”
Transforming organic waste into renewable energy
The third area of activity the Chair will focus on will be improving the energy intensity of processes such as cooking food and heat treating metal parts. Optimizing these processes would be very useful for hog farms, Professor Galanis noted. “This industry produces organic waste that could be converted into biogas. In turn, this biogas would be burned in a modified engine to produce electricity, heat and/or cold, with the added benefit of reducing odours. We are developing an integrated system that uses the source of pollution and transforms it into a form of renewable energy. It’s a comprehensive approach to self-sufficiency.”
Collaborators and partners
The Chair brings together scientists working at three Canadian universities and two of its partners: Hydro-Québec’s Laboratoire des technologies de l’énergie (Energy Technology Laboratory) and Natural Resources Canada’s CANMET Energy Technology Centre – Varennes. Their shared research, development and training objectives are intended to serve Canadian and Quebec society and stakeholders.
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