Heat Recovery (Pinch) Analysis

"The target is to operate a process at required throughput and product quality with minimum energy, resource requirements and emissions."

In industry, often more than half of the energy is used for heating and cooling processes. It is therefore important to analyze these processes more closely and optimize them in terms of energy consumption, (CO2-) emissions, as well as investment and operating costs. 

Classical energy optimization approaches focus on improving individual apparatuses or infrastructure facilities. Experience shows, however, that a greater overall increase in energy efficiency can usually be achieved by optimally linking energy flows in the overall system. To increase energy efficiency, heat recovery back into the process is essential.

The Pinch analysis systematically examines the entire system (process, production plant, and energy supply). Then, a technically feasible and economically optimized plant design is generated (considering investment and operating costs).

With the recommended measures, the energy requirements of industrial processes can be reduced by 10% to 40%. The payback period is generally one to four years.

Pinch analysis is also a valuable tool when planning new systems/plants and processes ⇒ “First Time Right!"

Main Features

  • Energy savings of 10-40%
  • Significant CO2-reduction
  • Payback of 1-4 years
  • Strong ROI, positive NPV
Composite Curves Pinch Analysis
Exemplary hot and cold composite curves. Shifting the cold CC to the left reduces the dTmin, increases the heat recovery potential (HR Pot.) and reduces the need for cold and hot utility (CU resp. HU)

When does a Pinch analysis make sense?

  • Production plants with thermal processes (continuous or batch)
  • Planning of new plants and retrofit
  • Heating and cooling tasks at different temperature levels
  • Annual costs for thermal energy over about 200’000 EUR

Which questions will be answered

  • How big is the necessary energy demand (requirement?), if a completely energy-optimized process would be given?
  • Where is the economic optimum regarding investment and operating costs?
  • How can this optimal condition be achieved?
  • Which energy supply is optimal for the entire system (steam boiler, heat pump, combined heat and power unit, etc.)?
  • Is the existing energy supply optimally integrated into the system?

Provided Results

  • Information on the absolute energy and CO2 saving potential
  • Optimal and "realistic" measures for optimized heat recovery and energy supply
  • "Correct" integration of HP, CHP etc. into industrial processes
  • Catalogue of measures with technical/economic assessment (costs, benefits, payback)
  • Strategic planning of the implementation of measures

How does the process of a Pinch analysis work

  • Data extraction
  • Process analysis, energy and mass balances
  • Drawing of energy flow diagram and P&ID
  • Creation of an energy stream table of all relevant energy streams
  • Questioning process conditions
  • Define process requirements
  • Define perimeter of the Pinch analysis
  • Pinch analysis
  • Modelling of energy streams with Pinch software
  • Composite Curves
  • Targeting
  • Heat exchanger network
  • List of measures with economical indicators
  • Verification of technical and economic feasibility of the measures
  • (Iterative adaption of the heat exchanger network)
  • Packages of measures recommended for implementation incl. prioritization
Process Pinch Analysis Duration


"Rough" Pinch Analysis

Within a "rough" Pinch analysis, the main energy consumers are identified and the energy saving potential as well as the reduction potiential of CO2 emissions are roughly estimated. Waste heat sources are listed and approaches for energy recovery are developed. As a result, recommendations for further actions will be worked out: e.g. if a detailed Pinch analysis would make sense or to directly go on with implementing the proposed heat recovery systems.

Main Features

  • Get to know the overall system/processes
  • Rough estimation of energy saving potential
  • Approaches to increasing energy efficiency
  • Next steps defined:
    • More detailed Pinch analysis needed?
    • Or go on in implementing the heat recovery systems
Energy flow diagram
Exemplary energy diagram of a typical corporate energy flow diagram. Energy supply per energy source/fuel on the left, the consumers and their share of the energy use on the right. (source: ifu.com / 24.08.2020)

When does a (Rough) Pinch analysis make sense?

  • Production plants with thermal processes (continuous or batch)
  • Planning of new plants and retrofit
  • Heating and cooling tasks at different temperature levels
  • Annual costs for thermal energy over about 200’000 EUR

Which questions will be answered

  • How big is the approximate energy demand of the system/process?
  • How much energy can approximately be saved?
  • Is a further detailed Pinch analysis appropirate?

Provided Results

  • Efficiency improvement and CO2 reduction potential
  • Potential for economic measures
  • Basis for long-term planning (action plan)
  • Early identification of possibilities to get public financial support (for energy and/or CO2 reduction measures)


"Copy-Paste" Pinch Analysis

You have already elaborated a Pinch analysis on an existing plant and would now like to apply the results to a similar plant? Then our pragmatical copy-paste solution fits perfectly:

  • Study existing Pinch analysis and the recommended measures
  • Data extraction of the relevant process flows of the new plant
  • Adapt measures to the process flows of the new plant
  • Checking the technical feasibility
  • Recalculation of the energy and CO2 savings as well as of the economic key figures (stat. Payback, NPV, ROI)

Further support


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