Accelerating the implementation of high-temperature heat-pumps in the industry


PINcHED project aims to grab forward momentum and move towards mass implementation

Heat-pumps will become an integral part of a society on the road to sustainability. The application of this promising technology in the industry has been investigated for years with feasibility studies, market studies, cost reduction projects and barrier inventories. Despite all of these efforts so far, industrial heat pumps are currently still only a feasible economic and sustainable solution for the mid and high temperature range. This medium range is only interesting for a small group of innovators. However when regarding the latest developments in high temperature heat-pumps (up to 160° Celsius), the price development of electricity versus gas and the current climate agreement discussions, the time is here to start accelerating the industry’s adoption of the high temperature heat pump. This is the aim of the PINcHED project, a joint project in which the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology partners up with ECN part of TNO, Cosun/Rixona, Andritz and Huhtamaki.

PINcHED - Paper containers

Integrating heat-pump technology in drying processes

High temperature heat-pump technology will prove to be exceptionally useful in the industrial drying process. Drying processes on average account for 15% of an industry’s energy consumption and this can even amount to 70% of the total energy consumption in for example the paper production industry. Improving the energy efficiency of drying processes will therefore contribute significantly to energy saving targets and subsequently to the reduction of CO2 emissions. All industrial bulk drying processes are either done by convective or contact drying, both are suitable for heat pump application. Unfortunately the process equipment that is currently installed in field situations is not designed to be suitable for heat pump applications, both in the supply as in the heat recovery systems. Connecting a heat pump straight onto the existing installations will then cause more inefficiencies instead of optimizing the process. The next step in heat pump development must therefore concentrate on heat pump process integration. The PINcHed project will create conceptual design packages for contact and convective drying of a full scale, fully heat-pump integrated drying process. This will include a selection of main components, process flow diagrams, control philosophy and drafts of lay out drawings.

A new balance between standardized products versus customized solutions

The project also aims to accelerate the adoption of industrial heat pumps in the Netherlands by creating reference cases in two of the main industrial sectors where drying is a big part of operations: the food and paper industry. Currently customization for and integration into the industrial processes is costly and it is thus a limiting factor to mass-adoption by the industry. Defining a new value proposition that includes less customization and integration by defining integrated drying units as new products for the technology manufacturers will help overcome this. The PINcHED project will look for a new balance between the application of standardized products versus customized solutions and will try to shift the balance to a standardized or modular product. It will do so by defining new value propositions consisting of integrated drying and heat-pump systems parallel to working on integrating heat pumps in existing processes. This is an entirely new angle that has not been studied before and has never been addressed by a consortium. It combines international large equipment suppliers with knowledge institutes, end users, and innovation network organizations. Together they will help pave the way for mass implementation of industrial heat-pumps.

Read more about the project here.


This project is co-funded by TKI-E&I with the supplementary grant 'TKI- Toeslag' for Topconsortia for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI’s) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.