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Energy efficiency: a Québec-wide quest begins to link heat emitters with heat seekers

December 2, 2020 - Source : NEWS

Professor Michaël Kummert (Polytechnique Montréal, Department of Mechanical Engineering), will soon start a special kind of prospecting in Québec, in partnership with a team lead by Université de Montréal’s Professor Franck Scherrer (Faculté de l’aménagement; unofficial transl: Faculty of Planning). The impressive research team will set out to locate Québec’s most significant heat-loss emitters, so as to connect them with organizations that could put that heat-energy waste to good use. Organizational partners are, notably, the Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle (CTTÉI) and the Centre international de référence sur le cycle de vie des produits, procédés et services (CIRAIG).

Usine dégageant de la chaleur et de la vapeur. (Photo : Adobe Stock)

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Québec’s data centres, pulp and paper manufacturers, and other large industrial emitters release a significant amount of energy waste daily in the form of hot water or gaseous discharges.

Consultation firm Innovagro published a study (in French only) addressing the topic in 2011, and reported that energy waste totalled roughly 77 TWh annually – the equivalent of the combined total annual energy consumption that Québec households use to heat their homes and water.

Professor Michaël Kummert envisions other ends for that energy waste. He and his team will probe Québec’s large companies and map their energy waste.

“First and foremost, the goal is to create a dynamic energy waste map based on a georeferenced database. The data we have access to right now only gives us a general idea of companies’ energy use, but we don’t know what form energy loss takes, and where exactly it happens in space and time.” explains Professor Kummert.

In addition to locating heat sources, the group will also collect as much information as possible about the nature of said energy waste – namely if it’s liquid or gas – in addition to recording its temperature and availability throughout the year.

“If we get a good response from each industry sector, we’ll be able to create a series of typical profiles that will give us a decent overall portrait of emissions,” notes the Polytechnique researcher.

Michaël Kummert, professeur titulaire au Département de génie mécanique de Polytechnique Montréal.
Full Professor Michaël Kummert (Department of Mechanical Engineering) 

Pairing energy waste with energy needs

During the research project, the Polytechnique Montréal team will also seek out organizations likely to be able to benefit from the energy waste they discover. If energy-waste users are located in proximity to emitters (i.e. within an area of up to a few kilometers), a pairing could even be arranged.

Several similar examples of the latter have come to light in recent years, recounts the professor.

Notably, two-thirds of Polytechnique Montréal’s Lassonde Building’s heating needs are met using heat waste emitted from the engineering university’s Main Building’s boilers and chimneys.

Saint Félicien-based Toundra Greenhouse project is another shining example of energy waste use, according to Professor Kummert, as Toundra’s greenhouse design uses heat and carbon dioxide emitted from neighbouring Resolute Forest Products. Last but not least, the CHU de Québec City Hospital Complex will use steam produced by Québec City’s incinerator for energy – another notable example of energy partnerships likely to assist in energy savings.

Now is the perfect time to set the stage for more efficient energy waste use in Professor Kummert’s view – especially given Hydro-Québec’s campaign to woo data centres to Québec with the promise of green energy. “Each kWh of electricity that is used by a data centre to power servers, is then emitted in the atmosphere in the form of heat. There is enormous recycling and reuse potential,” note Professor Kummert.

The Polytechnique Montréal team hopes that their Québec-wide quest results in promising contexts being converted into case studies, and eventual real-life projects.

Pour en savoir plus

Professor Michaël Kummert's project details (in French only) 
Professor Michaël Kummert's expertise 
Department of Mechanical Engineering website (in French only)
Centre international de référence sur le cycle de vie des produits, procédés et services (CIRAIG) website
Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle (CTTÉI) website

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