The development of heat recovery equipment from conception to commercialisation
A comprehensive survey of industrial sites and heat recovery products revealed gaps between equipment that was required and that which was available. Two heat recovery products were developed to fill those gaps: a gas-to-gas modular heat recovery unit; a gas-to-liquid exhaust gas heat exchanger. The former provided an entire heat recovery system in one unit. It was specifically designed to overcome the problems associated with existing component system of large design commitment, extensive installation and incompatibility between parts. The unit was intended to recover heat from multiple waste gas sources and, in particular, from baking ovens. A survey of the baking industry defined typical waste gas temperatures and flow rates, around which the unit was designed. The second unit was designed to recover heat from the exhaust gases of small diesel engines. The developed unit differed from existing designs by having a negligible effect on engine performance. In marketing terms these products are conceptual opposites. The first, a 'product-push' product generated from site and product surveys, required marketing following design. The second, a 'market-pull' product, resulted from a specific user need; this had a captive market and did not require marketing. Here marketing was replaced by commercial aspects including the protection of ideas, contracting, tendering and insurance requirements. These two product development routes are compared and contrasted. As a general conclusion this work suggests that it can be beneficial for small companies (as was the sponsor of this project) to undertake projects of the market-pull type. Generally they have a higher probability of success and are less capital intensive than their product-push counterparts. Development revealed shortcomings in three other fields: British Standards governing heat exchangers; financial assessment of energy saving schemes; degree day procedure of calculating energy savings. Methods are proposed to overcome these shortcomings.