Decarbonization Through Heat Capture from Cooling Loads

Beneficial use of the waste heat rejected from the refrigeration cycle of cooling equipment is a means of decarbonization which in most cases also reduces operating costs. Cooling equipment, such as air and water source heat pumps (ASHP & WSHP), cooling towers, and chillers, are used in several different residential, commercial, and industrial applications as a means of serving space conditioning and/or process cooling loads. While these pieces of equipment vary between different applications and configurations, these systems generally utilize a cycle which utilizes input energy to absorb heat from a low temperature source and reject energy at a higher temperature into the ambient environment.

Depending on the thermal energy demands of a site, the heat rejected from the refrigeration cycle of traditional cooling technologies can present an opportunity to support carbon reduction goals. The process of capturing rejected heat and using it as a supplemental heat source lowers the consumption of carbon-emitting fuels such as natural gas, fuel oil, electricity, or propane which in turn reduces fuel costs at a given facility.

This process generally involves capturing the energy from a heat-emitting source and distributing the heat to the application in question. Applications which do not significantly vary seasonally (such as process heating/cooling, domestic water heating, motor control center or data center cooling, etc.) present excellent opportunities for decarbonization through this approach, though seasonal heating/cooling applications may be advantageous as well. Depending on the existing equipment serving heating and cooling loads, this strategy can reduce both the electricity used to serve the cooling load and the fuel utilized for serving the heating load, reducing fuel costs and a facility’s Scope 1 and/or Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions.

This type of approach could be implemented at any facility with a cooling requirement and simultaneous heating demand. A few examples of applications that could effectively support carbon reduction through heat capture from cooling loads include:

  • Data/server room space cooling rejecting heat to a heat pump domestic water heater
  • Motor control center space cooling rejecting heat to boiler/process makeup water equipment
  • Seasonal space cooling rejecting heat to boiler/process makeup water equipment for a mixed office/manufacturing site
  • Food and beverage process chilling rejecting heat to an anaerobic digester

Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss decarbonization through heat capture from cooling equipment as it relates to your facility.

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