Valio’s Seinäjoki plant has inaugurated an industrial-scale heat pump solution that is, according to the company, one of a kind in the world.
The solution is based on reclaiming and recycling the heat and cold from production in the plant’s processes. The energy savings generated from this innovative process are significant.
― At the Seinäjoki plant, two heat pumps generate 19 GWh of energy annually, which corresponds to the energy consumption of more than 1 000 electrically heated homes. This translates into annual savings of 500 000 euros, says Matti Lepistö, Project Manager at Valio’s Seinäjoki plant.
Heat is required at the Seinäjoki plant for, among other things, the production plant’s washing processes, the production of cottage cheese and butter, drying milk powder and heating the premises. Cold is used for refrigerating the products.
― Traditionally in the dairy industry, separate heat and cold sections have been built to produce the required heat or cold in the processes. Now these two heat pump units produce both heat and cold, which is a significant innovation in the dairy industry from an energy-balance point of view – even on a European level,” says Esa Mäkipelto, Technical Manager at Valio.
Heat is recovered from waste water used in the plant’s production process; the waste water would otherwise be disposed of directly as a waste energy flow. Another source of heat is the condensation heat generated in the production of milk powder; before the new heat pump solution, the condensation heat was simply left to evaporate into the air.
― The recovered heat is distributed via pipelines to various areas around the plant. The plant has a 2.5-kilometre-long network of heat distribution, recovery and reclaim pipelines, says Lepistö.
The heat pumps themselves are developed and manufactured by the Finnish company Scancool Oy. The heat distribution system was developed as a collaborative effort by Valio, Elomatic Oy and Scancool. Elomatic’s 3D imaging know-how was used to install the pipelines with millimetre precision, and with the plant in operation the entire time.