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Table 7.1 Temperature Ranges for Various Industrial Processes



Temperature (°C)










Boiler feedwater


Tinned food










Bleaching, dyeing


Drying, degreasing









Cooking, drying


Boiler feedwater







Synthetic rubber


Processing heat


Pre-heating water



Washing, sterilization





Washing, sterilization




Flours and by-products



Timber by-products

Thermodifussion beams




Pre-heating water


Preparation pulp


Bricks and blocks
















The usual types of industries that use most of the energy are the food industry and the manufacture of non-metallic mineral products. Particular types of food industries that can employ solar process heat are the milk (dairies) and cooked pork meats (sausage, salami, etc.) industries and breweries. Most of the process heat is used in the food and textile industries for such diverse applications as drying, cooking, cleaning, and extraction. Favorable conditions exist in the food industry because food treatment and storage are processes with high energy consumption and high running time. Temperatures for these applications may vary from near ambient to those corresponding to low-pressure steam, and energy can be provided either from flat-plate or low-concentration-ratio concentrating collectors.

The principle of operation of collectors and other components of the solar systems outlined in the previous chapters apply as well to industrial process heat applications. These applications, however, have some unique features; the main ones are the scale on which they are applied and the integration of the solar energy supply with an auxiliary energy source and the industrial process.

Generally, two primary problems need to be considered when designing an industrial process heat application. These concern the type of energy to be employed and the temperature at which the heat is to be delivered. For example, if hot water is needed for cleaning in food processing, the solar energy should be a liquid heater. If a process requires hot air for drying, an air heating system is probably the best solar energy system option. If steam is needed to operate a sterilizer, the solar energy system must be designed to produce steam, probably with concentrating collectors.

Another important factor required for the determination of the most suitable system for a particular application is the temperature at which the fluid will be fed to the collector array. Other requirements concern the fact that the energy may be needed at particular temperature or over a range of temperatures and possible sanitation requirements of the plant that must also be met, as, for example, in food processing applications.

The investments required in industrial solar application are generally large, and the best way to design the solar energy supply system can be done by modeling methods (see Chapter 11) that consider the transient and intermittent characteristics of the solar resource. In this way, designers can study various options in solar industrial applications at costs that are very small compared to the investments. For the preliminary design, the simple modeling methods presented in previous chapters apply here as well.

Another important consideration is that, in many industrial processes, large amounts of energy are required in small spaces. Therefore, there may be a problem for the location of collectors. If the need arises, collector arrays can be located on adjacent buildings or grounds. Locating the collectors in such areas, however, results in long runs of pipes or ducts, which cause heat losses that must be considered in the design of the system. Where feasible, when no land area is available, collectors can be mounted on the roof of a factory in rows. In this case, shading between adjacent collector rows should be avoided and considered. However, the collector area may be limited by the roof area, shape, and orientation. Additionally, roofs of existing buildings are not designed or oriented to accommodate arrays of collectors, and in many cases, structures to support collector arrays must be installed on existing roofs. It is usually much better and cost effective if new buildings are readily designed to allow for collector mounting and access.

In a solar industrial process heat system, interfacing of the collectors with conventional energy supplies must be done in a way compatible with the process. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using heat storage, which can also allow the system to work in periods of low irradiation and nighttime.

The central system for heat supply in most factories uses hot water or steam at a pressure corresponding to the highest temperature needed in the different processes. Hot water or low-pressure steam at medium temperatures (<150°C) can be used either for pre-heating water (or other fluids) used for processes (washing, dyeing, etc.), for steam generation, or by direct coupling of the solar system to an individual process working at temperatures lower than that of the central steam supply. Various possibilities are shown in Figure 7.1. In the case of water pre-heating, higher efficiencies are obtained due to the low input temperature to the solar system; thus low-technology collectors can work effectively and the required load supply temperature has no or little effect on the performance of the solar energy system.

Norton (1999) presents the history of solar industrial and agricultural process applications. The most common applications of industrial process heat and practical examples are described.

A system for solar process heat for decentralized applications in developing countries was presented by Spate et al. (1999). The system is suitable for community kitchens, bakeries, and post-harvest treatment. The system employs a fixed-focus parabolic collector, a high temperature flat-plate collector, and a pebble bed oil storage.

Benz et al. (1998) present the planning of two solar thermal systems producing process heat for a brewery and a dairy in Germany. In both industrial processes, the solar yields were found to be comparable to the yields of solar systems for domestic solar water heating or space heating. Benz et al. (1999) also presented a study for the application of non-concentrating collectors for the food industry in Germany. In particular, the planning of four solar thermal

Solar collector Central steam supply

Solar collector Central steam supply

Centralized Solar Energy Fig
FIGURE 7.1 Possibilities of combining the solar energy system with the existing heat supply.

systems producing process heat for a large and a small brewery, a malt factory, and a dairy are presented. In the breweries, the washing machines for the returnable bottles were chosen as a suitable process to be fed by solar energy; in the dairy, the spray dryers for milk and whey powder production were chosen; and in the malt factory, the wither and kiln processes. Up to 400 kWh/m2/a were delivered from the solar collectors, depending on the type of collector.

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  • jemima
    How can solar thermal used in dyeing process?
    8 years ago

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