Photo: The Williams Ignacio Gas Plant near Durango, Colorado

Technologies that capture waste heat and harness the energy within it to create value are being developed across the country and around the world. Here in Colorado, companies are capturing waste heat from industrial processes and using it to generate electricity with no additional fuel or emissions. Called recycled energy or waste heat to power, these systems can improve electric service reliability onsite, create cost savings by reducing the amount of purchased fuel and electricity, provide power to remote locations, and reduce a company’s carbon footprint and emissions.

The Williams Ignacio Gas Plant near Durango, Colorado, is a great example of a facility that uses its waste heat to generate clean power. The system captures heat exhausted from the natural gas compression process and routes it to a recycled energy system that generates nearly 44,000 MWh of electricity per year. Under typical conditions, Williams sells all the power it generates to its local utility and buys all the power it needs from the utility. It is only when there is a service disruption that Williams uses the electricity it generates, ensuring critical processes have the power they need to operate at all times. Since recycled energy is an eligible energy resource that counts toward Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES), Williams also sells the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with its clean power generation to its local utility.

There are numerous technologies used for recycled energy, from well-established steam cycle and organic Rankine cycle engines, to newer thermoelectrics and supercritical CO2. While the Williams project uses steam turbines, a recycled energy project in Peetz, Colorado, – that captures waste heat from compressors on the Trailblazer natural gas pipeline – uses organic Rankine cycle technology to generate power from the compressor station waste heat. Similar to the Williams project, RECs and power generated from the waste heat are sold to the local utility, and the pipeline compressor station purchases all the power it needs from its local utility. This project is expected to generate $10 million in savings over 20 years.

Elsewhere in the country, industrial and manufacturing companies are turning waste heat into power at cement plants, steel mills, glass plants, refineries and other energy intensive operations. Waste gas from flares at oil and gas operations, wastewater treatment plants, and landfills is being used to generate power and, at the same time, comply with flare reduction rules. Facilities that have processes that require costly equipment to lower the temperature of their exhaust heat are using recycled energy systems that generate power while they lower the exhaust temperatures. These are just a few examples of what is possible.

It is estimated there is more than 100 MW of recycled energy potential in Colorado, 75% of which is in the oil and gas industry. Perhaps you know of a site with excess heat that could benefit from recycled energy?

For additional information, including financing options and how to arrange for a free feasibility study funded in part by the Colorado Energy Office, contact Susan Brodie or check out the links to a fact sheet and four case studies in the orange box to the right.

Recycled Energy—also known as waste heat to power—is a form of clean energy that uses leftover heat from industrial processes to generate electricity with no additional fuel, combustion or emissions. These systems capture heat from exhaust stacks or pipes that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere and convert it into electricity. Recycled energy does not include energy produced by any system that uses waste heat from a process whose primary purpose is the generation of electricity.

Links to Resources
Fact Sheet

Case Studies:
Flare Elimination
Gas Processing
Pipeline Compressor Station
Coke Calcining

All materials available on the CEO Recycled Energy website

CEO Recycled Energy
Heat is Power Association
Upper-West CHP TAP