A method for faster application of process integration techniques in retrofit situations

Riccardo Bergamini*, Tuong-Van Nguyen, Fabian Bühler, Lorenzo Bellemo, Brian Elmegaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Numerous process integration techniques were proved to be highly effective for identifying and estimating potential energy savings in the industry. However, they require high time and effort to collect and analyse process data. As a result, they do not constitute the common practice in the industry and opportunities for increasing the energy efficiency of industrial processes are missed.

The paper presents a method, termed the “Energy-Saving Decomposition”, which is based on Process Integration techniques. It is intended for expeditiously outlining and promoting energy efficiency in the industry. Two screening tools, based on mathematical criteria and engineering experience, are employed for reducing the problem dimension before applying conventional design procedures. The first step disregards streams based on their contribution to the overall energy-saving potential, calculated utilising a novel energy-saving decomposition technique. The most promising network is then selected based on its energy-saving potential and size. The second step reduces the problem complexity further, employing economic considerations.

This novel method was exemplified by application to a dairy factory: the outcomes and the method itself were compared to conventional Pinch Analysis techniques. The results showed that the developed method can simplify and reduce the time consumption of conventional Process Integration methods significantly, while identifying the most encouraging saving opportunities. The automatic algorithm allowed for reducing the problem size from 62 process streams of the existing plant to 22 streams requiring a computational time of only 135 s. The final retrofit design proposed was the same obtained with conventional Pinch Analysis, achieving a 23% reduction in the plant final energy consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124698
JournalJournal of cleaner production
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Dairy industry
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy-saving decomposition method
  • Heat exchanger network
  • Process integration
  • Retrofit

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