Chemical heat pumping for process heat applications: modeling and optimization

Type: Semester Project (10 credits)

Period: 2016 Autumn

Student: Tancredi Peraino

Assistants: Anna Sophia Wallerand, Hür Ebuzer Bütün

Context & Goal

The aluminum industry is one of the most energy intensive industries. It has a high production of waste heat as currently heat recovery is not applied to the processes. Hot aluminum processes are cooled either by water or air which is afterwards ejected to the environment. Therefore, in order to increase the energy efficiency in this sector, it is necessary to consider technologies for recovering this waste heat.

The goal of this work is to evaluate an innovative concept which functions in a similar manner as compression heat pumps, but at much higher temperature and based on chemical reactions. It is therefore referred to as chemical heat pumping.

It relies on steam reforming which is a method for producing hydrogen from hydrocarbons (e.g. CH4, CH3OH etc.). It can be used as a chemical heat pump to valorize the waste heat from the aluminum process and produce high energy content fuels (H2) to be used to produce heat at higher temperature levels.

A Vali model of the Aluminum process is available from the previous work done on the project. The student will be responsible for expanding it by modelling the utilities (furnace, cooling system). Then steam reforming and other technologies for recovering the waste heat will be considered. The optimal integration of the current utilities and the proposed heat recovery technologies will be carried out.


  • Strong background in thermodynamics and energy conversion systems
  • EPFL courses: Advanced Energetics, Modelling and Optimisation of Energy Systems
  • Programming skills: Lua
  • Language: English


  • Studying aluminum processes
  • Familiarization with Vali, Lua and Osmose
  • Building a furnace and cooling system model on Vali
  • Checking and improving steam reforming models on Vali
  • Discovering alternative technologies for heat recovery
  • Optimal integration of utilities


As the IPESE research group is now located in Sion, students might need to commute. A travel expense compensation of 1600 CHF(Master project) or 600 CHF(Semester project) will be given to students. The frequency of travel to Sion will be agreed with the project supervisor.