Systematic waste heat utilisation with potential analysis

We systematically utilise your waste heat!
This reduces energy consumption and operating costs.

Advantages for your company

The efficient utilisation of waste heat opens up a number of advantages for companies, and not just in terms of legal obligations. The focused integration of waste heat into the production process can successfully replace conventional heat generation from conventional energy sources. This not only reduces CO2 emissions, but also results in considerable savings in terms of energy and the associated costs. Particularly in consideration of rising energy costs and the predicted increase in the price of CO2, there are significant opportunities for cost savings. The use of waste heat therefore not only represents an economically sensible approach to optimising energy consumption, but also marks a significant step away from fossil fuels towards a sustainable industrial process.

Worth knowing: The Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) ‘Act to Increase Energy Efficiency in Germany’ was passed in November 2023, which states that
The generation of waste heat must be avoided wherever possible and unavoidable waste heat must be reused. All companies with an energy consumption >2.5 GWh/a are obliged to determine and report their waste heat potential.

Waste heat utilisation with heat pumps

Every refrigeration machine is a heat pump. This can be described using the example of a refrigerator. If warm beer is placed in the refrigerator at +4°C, heat is transferred from the beer to the cool interior of the refrigerator. The refrigerant circuit extracts the heat energy from the beer. This ‘beer energy’ is then brought to a higher temperature level, e.g. +30°C, by the compressor, which is driven by electrical energy. The ‘beer energy’ together with the electrical energy from the compression is then released to the kitchen as waste heat. As a rule, the ‘beer energy’ is many times greater than the electricity input. The total amount of energy is available at a higher temperature level and therefore makes the ‘beer energy’ usable. The ratio of ‘usable heat’ and ‘electricity’ is the coefficient of performance (COP). With a COP of 5, 1 kWh of electrical energy can raise 5 kWh of heat to a usable level. With electric heating, a maximum ratio of 1 is possible. This means that heat pumps can very efficiently raise heat to a usable level.

Utilising waste heat instead of giving it away

In a refrigeration system, the energy to be dissipated is raised to a temperature level at which it can be released into the environment. This energy is therefore available at a higher level than from the ambient air. Utilising this waste heat from refrigeration processes is more efficient than recovering ambient heat and should be used directly. It is important to note that heat pumps for industrial processes, i.e. for temperatures above 70 °C, are usually only economically viable if the heat from the company's own processes is utilised as waste heat. Some of these sources can be tapped with little effort. Most chillers can already reach temperatures of over 40 °C, which means that the first heat sinks can only be utilised using heat exchangers and distribution networks. Other systems such as heat pumps can be used to serve processes that require higher temperatures, which is technically feasible up to a temperature of 200 °C.

The picture shows cooling towers that release heat into the environment at low outside temperatures. Instead of releasing the energy into the environment, the heat can be used to heat buildings, as hot water, process heat and for electrical steam generation. This saves fossil primary energy and reduces both CO2 emissions and operating costs.

The amortisation period is determined by the ratio of operating cost savings to the coefficient of performance. The higher the coefficient of performance (COP) compared to the ratio of the electricity costs for the heat pump to the costs of saved fossil fuels, the faster the heat pump will amortise. With a low ratio of electricity to gas prices, heat pumps can amortise in less than a year. Rising prices for CO2 emissions shift this ratio in favour of the heat pump in the long term.

Running dry cooler at low outside temperatures
Running dry cooler at low outside temperatures

Technical details Waste heat utilisation

  • Cold-heat cogeneration

    Waste heat from processes, such as from chillers, can be decoupled using heat exchangers and, depending on the temperature level, utilised directly or made usable using a heat pump.

  • Heat source

    The heat source is a process to be cooled, which emits heat. For example, chillers and air conditioning units emit the heat extracted from the processes as waste heat. The heat can be extracted from storage rooms, cold water production, cooling processes, but also from data centres and drying processes.

  • Heat distribution

    The extracted heat is distributed, converted or stored efficiently and adapted to the sink using intelligent heat distribution. This is done with heat pumps and heat exchangers. Recoolers are also part of the system to release heat into the environment when there is no need for it.

  • Heat sink

    A heat sink is a process component that absorbs heat. Instead of providing this required heat with fossil combustion, this heat can be extracted from the distribution network. Processes that require heat include radiators and ventilation units for room air conditioning, reactors and fermenters, but all applications that require steam are also heat sinks. If there is no immediate demand and storage is not possible, it is possible to feed the heat into a heating network.

The Refolution approach

In our approach, we attach particular importance to working with your company's own data. We analyse the required temperature levels and carry out a detailed potential analysis to determine the optimum solution in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. This process includes the development of various concepts with comprehensive profitability calculations. Cost developments such as CO2 taxes are also taken into account, as are funding opportunities for heat pumps and concepts for CO2 savings.

6 important steps

1. Determining the potential using generator data
The first step is to determine the potential for energy recovery. This is usually done simply using the producer data based on annual invoices for primary energy sources such as gas and oil and the electricity consumption of the main components such as cooling generators, which collect the heat from the plant via the cold water. This shows how much primary energy can be substituted with waste heat.

2. Determining real demand - collecting, measuring and analysing the da
In order to determine the real demand, the main consumers are identified and analysed. This requires an on-site inspection, documentation and measurement data from the various systems. Additional local potential is often identified here through simple measures such as reducing temperature levels, regulation, insulation and hydraulic balancing.

3 PINCH analysis of heat sources and sink
The data is systematically collated in a PINCH analysis and different conditions are broken down by time such as day & night, summer & winter and peak loads such as batch processes. Here, the individual potentials with necessary temperature strokes can now be seen in detail.

4. Development of measures
Various measures are developed on the basis of the PINCH analysis, such as the introduction of heat pumps, energy storage systems, free cooling and the networking of processes. The following applies to heat pumps: the higher the stroke, the lower the efficiency. For this reason, the heating requirement is covered from cold to hot.

5. Economic efficiency analysis with engineering report

Points 1 to 4 are summarised in a detailed engineering report, which provides you with meaningful recommendations for your decisions.

6. Project support

We also support you in the implementation of the measures, such as the planning of layout and hydraulics, functional descriptions, risk assessment and proof of the effectiveness of the measures.

We provide you with all this information in a detailed report with recommendations for action, which also takes into account current and expected draft legislation and regulations. This includes an outlook on possible changes in gas and electricity prices and how this could affect the preferences of the various concepts.

Our aim is not only to present you with an energy-efficient solution, but also to provide transparent insights into the various concepts.

Report with recommended actions
Report with recommended actions


Thanks to our in-depth knowledge as a specialist company for refrigeration technology and our expertise in the field of waste heat utilisation, we are able to offer you comprehensive advice. Our overriding goal is to build a long-term and successful partnership with your company. We are not only at your side for current issues, but would also like to provide you with ongoing support and advice for future projects.

In previous projects, we have advised pharmaceutical customers and processing companies, among others. We have developed innovative waste heat concepts that achieve amortisation times of less than 5 years and enable considerable energy and CO2 savings. The efficient use of waste heat is not only a cost-saving measure, but also an environmentally conscious approach to reducing resource consumption and minimising the ecological footprint of industrial processes. Together, we want to make a contribution to a CO2-neutral future.

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Your benefits


Energy utilisation of previously discharged waste heat, saving energy and reducing costs, increasing efficiency and optimising processes


Sustainable utilisation of resources through energy recovery, moving away from fossil fuels towards environmentally conscious industrial processes and a CO2-neutral future

Compliance with laws and regulations
Compliance with laws and regulations

Compliance with regulations and legal obligations such as the Energy Efficiency Act

Operating cost optimisation
Operating cost optimisation

Economic optimisation of the industrial process, cost savings by reducing energy consumption and minimising CO2 emissions with the associated CO2 tax


Independence from fossil fuels

Environmentally friendly & safe
Environmentally friendly & safe

Maximising energy use and reducing CO2 emissions, towards an emission-free and climate-neutral future

Oliver Fleischer

HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH

Oliver Fleischer · Head of Service / Head of development - department refrigeration technology

Mit Refolution gelingt die Zukunft der Nachhaltigkeit, gepaart mit Effizienz und Weitsicht.
Der Profi für die Zukunft.
Christian Berger

CSL Behring

Christian Berger · Global Director - Process and Technology Owner for Aseptic & Sterility

Refolution supported me in the technical verification of design and dimensioning of a Natural Refrigerant Cooling System for a new Freeze Dryer system.
I was very happy with the immediate support and competence of the Refolution Team. Thanks for your help.


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