Innovative heat pipe heat exchangers ready for commissioning
At the end of October 2020, Wales has announced, once again, a full lockdown, which is having a big impact on retailers, the hospitality services, but also industry. ECONOTHERM is one of the worldwide leading producers of heat pipe heat exchangers and their base is in the Welsh city of Bridgend, an old industrial city located between Swansea and Cardiff. ECONOTHERM is a key partner in the European innovation project ETEKINA, as the manufacturer of innovative heat pipe heat exchanger units for three pilot plants in Spain, Slovenia and Italy.
Mark Boocock is taking a deep breath. As Managing Director of ECONOTHERM, he has guided his company through a turbulent spring and summer, which had been affected by school closures, quarantine measures of his workforce and other uncertainties. At the same time, his order books were full and his clients were eagerly expecting to get their products delivered. Just like his partners of the ETEKINA project.
“We had some tough months, when you didn’t know what to expect the next day”, says Mark Boocock, “but our team had a great attitude and worked really hard.” The Slovenian unit – a multi-sink heat pipe heat exchanger – had already arrived at its final destination in August 2020, a steel production plant of METAL RAVNE in Ravne na Koroškem, Slovenia. End of November 2020 a second unit arrived at an LPDC aluminium plant of FAGOR EDERLAN, in the Basque region and a further heat pipe heat exchanger is destined for Modena, Italy, where it will be installed at the ceramics production line of ATLAS CONCORDE in the coming weeks.
The timely delivery, installation and commissioning is critical for the project, as the engineering partners involved need to verify if the three units are performing as efficiently as predicted by the calculations. For example, the ceramics unit is expected to recover 41% of waste heat from the ceramic kiln to be reused in the spray dryer. “We need 8-10 months to collect sufficient data so we can verify the impact the heat pipe heat exchanger will have on the ceramics production plant”, says Prof. Luca Montorsi from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. “Despite disruptions and delays caused by COVID-19 here in Italy, and also with our other partners, the team effort of the ETEKINA partners was really great and has helped to stay on track to deliver everything in time. So, despite past and upcoming lockdowns, our aim is still to finish the project on time in September 2021.”
ETEKINA is a Horizon 2020 innovation project co-funded by the European Commission. For regular updates please consult www.etekina.eu