‘Waste heat to power’ specialists Heatcatcher Ltd have announced that their first Heatcatcher system, at the Thrislington lime plant near Durham, is now fully operational.

The system, which cost £1.3million to design, build and deliver, is on course to deliver a return on the investment within five years. Early data indicates that it can be expected to generate net power of around 3,000MWh annually, equivalent to 7,500 hours of carbon-free electricity. In total, CO2 output will be reduced by 1,600 tonnes per year.

Steetley Dolomite are keen to make further investments across its two plants after securing a £4m funding package from HSBC’s Nottinghamshire Commercial team. John Carlill, Managing Director of Steetley Dolomite said: “The project offers an attractive return on investment, when you consider the £1.3m investment against purchasing 3,000 MWh per year of Electricity from the grid over the next 10 to 15 years.”

Lime and cement manufacture is currently one of the most energy intensive and greenhouse gas emitting industrial processes in existence. The industry contributes roughly 5% of global man-made CO2 emissions, nearly three times the amount generated by air travel worldwide.

The Heatcatcher System works by using the waste heat to vaporise a refrigerant, which in turn drives a rotary generator. The variable frequency and voltage output of the generator are converted to match the grid, and this electrical output is fed back into the plant’s power supply. Every stage of the process has been calibrated to minimise energy losses within the system. In total, each plant fitted with the system recovers 4MWh of thermal power, and converts it to 0.5 MW of cheap, low-carbon electrical power.

Darren Bryant, CEO of Heatcatcher Ltd, said: “We believe that this technology will be a step change reduction in the energy intensive production costs of European lime and cement manufacturers, through the design, integration, funding and operation of Waste Heat to Power Plants.”

Michael Harman, Plant Manager at Thrislington lime plant, said: “It’s a real point of pride for everybody at the plant that we’ve become the first site to innovate in this way, which has been great for morale. The system was installed with very little disruption of our day-to-day output, and is surprisingly autonomous. It has already begun to pay dividends, in terms of significantly reducing our energy costs and has drastically reduced our greenhouse gas emissions. We can see this technology becoming commonplace throughout the industry in the future, but we’ll always be able to say that we were the first plant to have a Heatcatcher.”

Heatcatcher design, build and operate waste heat systems primarily for power stations.