Utilization of Waste Heat from Sugar Mills in Cuba for Thermally Driven Cooling (Mechanical Project)

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The demand for air conditioning keeps rising, especially in developing countries where the standard of living has improved. This results in an increased consumption of electricity and puts further pressure on the power grid. In Cuba, electricity is a scarce commodity and the electricity production relies heavily on fossil fuels, which causes high emissions.

An alternative technology for producing cooling is thermally driven cooling where the installment of an absorption chiller could utilize waste heat from existing industries to provide cooling to buildings. Therefore, there are possibilities of lowering the amount of electricity needed for air conditioning.

In this thesis, the potential of using waste heat from sugar mills in Cuba was investigated. The sugar industry is high water consuming and often produces large amounts of heated waste water that is rarely utilized. To collect the data needed for the investigation, a study visit was conducted at the sugar mill Carlos Balino in Villa Clara, Cuba.
Since the factory did not track water mass flows, calculations based on sugar concentrations and energy balances were used to determine the different water outlets.

The identified excess water has a mass flow of 10 kg/s and a temperature of 96 °C, which is enough to supply the factory with cooling. The result of the investigation also showed that the mill could invest in thermally driven cooling with a payback time of between three to six seasons depending on the cost of the selected equipment. The energy savings per crushing season would be nearly 140 000 kWh which equals to financial savings of above 40 000 dollar per season.

If the sugar mill Carlos Balino would invest in an absorption chiller, the cooling supply would be unreliable because of the high number of production shutdowns. Before any possible implementation, the causes for the stops in production need to be further examined. The supply of cooling would otherwise have to rely on thermal energy storage of chilled water, which in such large quantities would be costly.

The factory only produces waste heat during the crushing season, which lasts from December throughout April, but there is a cooling demand during the whole year, which means that alternative cooling methods for an off-season cooling supply would have to be investigated. The study concludes that thermally driven cooling would be very suitable for similar industries that also produce large amounts of heated excess water, but are operating all year around and have a more even production rate, both on a daily and seasonal basis.
Source: KTH
Authors: Feychting, Sofia | Vitez, Marina

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