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Professionals from the metal industry share advanced experiences and new technological developments to improve energy efficiency in industrial transformation processes

Framed within the “European Sustainable Energy Week 2018”, this outstanding working frame has allowed to share advanced strategies in energy efficiency within the metal-mechanical industry, related to the recovery of waste heat, geothermal energy and valorisation of industrial waste for energy applications.


On June 28th the Metallurgy Research Centre IK4-Azterlan coordinated the technical conference “Innovation for an energy-efficient industry” which gathered various innovations developed for the optimisation of energy efficiency in the metal industry and other energy intensive sectors. The workshop was aimed to bring to the industry case studies and advanced experiences of innovations carried out in collaboration between industrial companies and innovation agents, and to visualise the wide range of improvement possibilities still to be addressed.

As said by Fernando Santos, researcher at IK4-AZTERLAN, “the main barrier to develop and to incorporate innovations that encourage a more efficient use of energy, lays on the fact that there is no global solution applicable to all companies. Conversely, every production process is unique and they require a customized analysis to evaluate their potential, their needs, their points of improvement and energy solutions that best fit to them. The fundamental requirement is that any innovation or developed cannot affect negatively the production process and, if possible, it should even bring improvements to it. For this reason, we wanted to present to the audience a variety of success cases that would help the industry lose the fear to innovate for a better use of their energy resources”.

Mainly based on the case studies carried out in the RESLAG and SUSPIRE European projects, the meeting hosted presentations by international organizations such as DOW Material Sciences, MET Modern E – Technologies, TELUR Geotermia y Agua, S.A., CIC ENERGIGUNE, IK4-TEKNIKER, EVE (Basque Energy Entity) and IK4-AZTERLAN.

Speakers that took part in the technical event.

Technical meeting on Energy Efficiency in the industry

After a welcome by Fernando Santos, the meeting started with the lecture of Jesus Mª Casado, from the area of renewable energy and use of resources of EVE (Basque Energy Agency). Mr. Casado reviewed the evolution of energy consumption in the Basque Country since the 80s up to the present day. As he explained “since 1982, the Basque Country has reached a savings level equivalent to 42% of current energy demand, but there is still field for the exploitation of renewable energies, despite the limited potential of the territory”. However, the specialist from EVE said that the industry has lost weight as an energy consumer, being surpassed by the mobility sector.

After the intervention of Mr. Casado, the following two presentations were led by Marta Hernáiz, a researcher at IK4-Tekniker, and of Mohamed Belkheir, technical specialist from DOW Material Sciences (Belgium), who focused their presentations on heat transfer fluids.

Ms. Hernáiz shared with attendees the potential of nanofluids (fluids with additions of nanoparticles) for energy applications, as “materials with an already proven thermal stability that also provide a greater thermal conductivity than conventional fluids”.

The presentation of Mr. Belkheir offered the keys to select the heat transfer fluids that are most suitable for each application. As he indicated, the temperature of operation, the pressure, the freezing point and pumpability are the key indicators to choose a correct fluid depending on their viscosity, toxicity, flammability, environmental profile, reactivity with other fluids in the process, compatibility with other materials and their abilities to transfer heat.

Later, researcher from MET-Modern E-Technologies (Lithuania) Saulius Pakalka told the assistants about industrial solutions for the capture and storage of energy for middle and high temperature ranges by means of the use of high performance heat exchangers, which also incorporate an energy storage system based on Phase Change Materials (PCM).

The following presentation, by Iñigo Ortega, researcher at CIC-Energigune, and Lucía Unamunzaga, coordinator of the environment and sustainability area of IK4-Azterlan, unveiled the progress made in the RESLAG European project for the valorization of steelmaking waste in heat storage applications through the thermocline of compact bed technology.

Afterwards, the representatives of TELUR Geotermia y Agua S.A., Iñigo Arrizabalaga (general manager), and Ane Sainz-Trapaga (manager of geothermal energy projects), shared practical experiences related to the use of waste heat in industrial plants. They presented real cases of geothermal solutions that have led to savings in energy consumption in companies such as Pierburg S.A. and Bruss S.L., which in turn resulted in greater stability in the production process. This team also brought a realistic approach of how the excess of energy captured from residual heat can be used through strategies of symbiosis with the environment.

The workshop ended with the participation of IK4-Azterlan researchers Fernando Santos and David García who presented experiences for industrial plants data monitoring and intelligent data mining regarding the efficient use of energy and the process control. Both researchers stressed the importance of “identifying and working the process relevant data” through some advanced methodologies and tools, sharing a real case of a production plant.

The meeting gathered contents of great interest that have been very positively rated by attendees.


Azterlan Team
Azterlan Team
RE·Thinking Metallurgy. 40+ años acompañando a la industria metal-mecánica.

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