Energy-efficient industrial processes

Many industrial processes require large amounts of heat and mechanical power. In the European Union, the industrial sector accounts for over 27 % of final energy use.

Optimisation of the energy use in industrial systems is leading to a favourable environmental impact and cost savings. In any industrial process or plant, owners and operations want to ensure that their investments are delivering optimal functionality, efficiency and, of course, profit. The areas where better energy efficiency and savings can be achieved are:

  • Process pipelines, especially the high temperature ones
  • Valve boxes and flanges
  • Tank walls and roofs
  • Heat exchangers, pressure vessels
  • Boilers
  • Flue ducts
  • Equipment and filters
  • Industrial chimneys
  • Special constructions

A simple way of increasing the efficiency and performance of a process is to ensure that it is properly insulated; minimising energy consumption and maximising the effective lifetime of the plant are highly valuable benefits of a well-insulated process. Energy consumption can be reduced by simply keeping thermal losses in heat transfer small.

In Industry, there is a big potential to reduce the level of heat losses. Too often, specifications are just copied from previous projects, some already decades old. By insulating the processes better, many benefits can be achieved; saving energy and money, reducing CO2  

emissions and achieving more efficient processes.

Energy efficient industrial

Picture: One investment in the energy efficiency of the industrial process creates savings in energy costs for every year.

The pipes and installations in industrial plants often transport heated items such as hot water. An optimal production process requires that the level of produced heat is maintained throughout the process. When the pipes and installations are not properly insulated, heat loss occurs and more energy is required to maintain the level. However, in many processes, some parts, such as valves, flanges are not at all insulated. Also, poor maintenance of process insulation causes huge heat losses annually.

The building industry is way ahead of the process industry in energy efficiency regulations. If we compare insulation levels in passive houses and power plants, we see that the temperatures used in these systems differ a lot. Due to high temperatures in power plants the heat loss is much bigger than in passive houses. But when you compare the insulation level used to reduce this loss, the difference in huge.

Heat loss standards: Comparison of industry and buildings

  Power plant Current building code  Passive house 
Temperature  250 °C - 640 °C   18 °C - 22 °C 18 °C - 22 °C 
 Heat loss (AGI Q101)  150 W/m2  < 10 W/m2  < 3 W/m2
 Insulation thickness  100 mm 100 mm  350mm - 500 mm 


Very often, industrial insulation has very demanding requirements. The temperature range in equipment is as high as 600 – 800 degrees Celsius, and processes are located mostly outdoors. To ensure good thermal and mechanical properties, insulation must also have good water resistance and corrosion preventing properties. Often, processes are located close to the sea where the risk of corrosion is greatest.

Paroc is a member of the European Industrial Insulation Foundation
The European Industrial Insulation Foundation, EiiF was established in 2009 and comprises Europe’s leading insulation contractors and manufacturers. It is a neutral and non-profit institution and promotes industrial insulation as a top-of-mind method for enhancing sustainability and profitability. Eiif’s programme raises awareness for the growing, much-needed benefits of insulation. The foundation aims to demonstrate the hidden potential and promote actions for better-insulated sustainable solutions.