Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Waste Heat Recovery Research

Waste heat recovery provides an attractive opportunity for an emission-free and less costly energy resource. The process involves using recovery technology, such as a regenerator, thermoelectric generator or waste heat boiler, to recapture heat normally emitted into the atmosphere and repurpose it into electricity, resulting in an emission-free substitute for costly purchased fuels or electricity.

Southwest Research Institute is a leader in waste heat recovery technology, with extensive applications in the energy, automotive and oil and gas industries.

It is estimated that somewhere between 20 to 50% of industrial energy input is lost as waste heat in the form of hot exhaust gases, cooling water and heat lost from hot equipment surfaces and heated products.

Waste Heat Recovery System Design

Our waste heat recovery system design expertise includes: 

  • Cycle modeling
  • Component and system design
  • Component and system testing up to 80 MWth heat input and 20.5 MWth heat rejection
  • Failure analysis
  • Performance evaluation for recovery systems
  • Concept development low-grade heat recovery

SwRI engineers are currently part of a U.S. Department of Energy project involving the evaluation of a highly efficient waste heat recovery engine for natural gas pipeline compression. The project is centered on the conceptual design of a novel, hermetically sealed oil-free supercritical CO2 bottoming cycle for a natural gas combustion turbine to be used for pipeline compression.

Additionally, the Institute is currently creating a modular, highly efficient combined-cycle power system that is more cost-effective, fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. The technology couples an integrally-geared supercritical CO2 -based waste-heat recovery system to the discharge of an existing gas turbine package to increase the efficiency and environmental performance of existing gas turbines.

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