Borealis has announced that the first QPinch heat recovery demonstration plant has been completed and successfully started up at a Borealis LDPE production site in Antwerp. This achievement represents an important milestone in the open-innovation collaboration between the two companies: it is the first time that the new technology has been demonstrated at commercial scale.
The innovative technology developed by QPinch is bio-inspired and mimics the action of the citric acid cycle — a major component of the metabolic pathway by which all aerobic organisms generate energy.
The company’s industrial chemical heat pump is capable of transforming the waste heat from industrial processes into steam of 2-10 bar, with the help of inorganic oxoacids, their salts and water. providing a heat lift for waste heat that could otherwise not be utilized. Unlike the use of conventional heat pumps, this closed-loop process minimizes operational costs as well as electricity use. According to QPinch, a spin-off from Ghent University, the pumps can deliver a major contribution to the creation of a sustainable low emission industry. The technology is scalable from one to 50 megawatts (MW) and can therefore process enormous levels of industrial waste heat.
Borealis and Qpinch first announced the open-innovation collaboration that has now resulted in this commercial-scale unit in 2018. The project has received ecology funding support from the Flemish government.
The start-up of this heat-recovery unit is one of several initiatives bringing Borealis closer to its Energy & Climate goal to be 20% more energy efficient by 2030 compared to 2015. More widespread use of the Qpinch technology in production facilities would enable Borealis to significantly increase the sustainability and efficiency of its Group operations. The new heat recovery unit in Zwijndrecht/Antwerp alone will enable Borealis to save approximately 2,200 metric tons of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of the annual emissions of around 1,500 compact cars.