Meet Our Heat Exchanger: Transforming “Waste” Heat Into Energy
One of our sustainability goals is reaching zero net energy use at our restaurant and brewery. This means making sure the energy we make at Standing Stone Brewing is equal to or greater than what we take from utilities. This reduces emissions, increases energy independence and cuts operating costs.
Several years ago, we commissioned an audit to map out electricity and natural gas consumption, and develop a plan to reach zero net energy use. We’ve been making progress since then, including installing an Energy Management System (automates heat, light and other systems), putting solar panels on our roof and adding a heat exchanger (also known as waste heat recovery).
Heat exchangers transform “waste heat” emitted by appliances and building systems—like the warmth you feel behind your refrigerator—into fuel for other processes. By harnessing it, we avoid wasting this resource and reduce external energy needs. To share more about the process we asked co-owner Alex Amarotico, who set up the heat exchanger and spearheaded our zero net energy plan, to tell us about it.
What does a heat exchanger do?
We installed a water-cooled heat exchanger. This captures heat that’s produced by condensing units in refrigerant systems like our walk in cooler, walk in freezer and glycol chiller, and transfers it to our hot water heating system.
What are the main pieces and how does it work?
It has a stainless steel heat exchanger (made of many plates of thin stainless steel), valves that divert waste heat to the water-cooled heat, an exchanger for heating water (or our original air-cooled heat exchanger), circulators that push water through the heat exchanger, and a computerized control unit that monitors and controls system operations.
Why did you decide to install a heat exchanger?
The zero net energy use plan we commissioned showed this was one of the measures with the highest energy savings and cost efficiency. We’re prioritizing improvements by overall impact to make the most of our resources and generate savings to invest in additional pieces of the plan.
How much energy does it save?
It cuts about 10% of our energy use. Given the energy load of a typical brewery and restaurant, this is significant!
What’s next for SSBC’s energy conservation and renewables efforts?
We’re exploring ways to reuse waste cooking oil to make electricity or heat. We currently provide this to a biodiesel company but would love to close the loop, and process and reuse it in house.
Thank, Alex! If you’re intrigued and inspired, try a few simple tricks at home. If you have an oven that vents through one of your stove burners, plan ahead to cook on that burner when you’ll be baking. Steam veggies above a pot of pasta. If you have a cat or a laptop, keep them on your lap and turn down the thermostat down a few degrees, too (wink).
Feel free to ask for a peek at the accessible parts of our system the next time you visit our brewpub and restaurant, too.