An Interview with Imre Palfi




Short description of your company:

THERMOWATT Ltd was established specifically for the energy recovery of waste-heat and started researches and system-designs in this field in 2009. It successfully developed a technological solution to utilize energy resided in sewage to cool and/or heat bigger buildings, building complexes in a modern, environmentally friendly and economical way.

Using this international innovation-award winner (2013, 2014 WEX Global, 2015 Innovate@IWS) and patented, heat-pump based technology heat is recovered from, as well as rejected to, a hidden and rarely used energy source: the wastewater.

With this form of alternative energy, there is no hazardous waste or toxic emission, no unnecessary water consumption, no complicated transportation or expensive installation. Due to the carefully designed, optimized and harmonized system elements, the most efficient and energy saving operation is achievable.

There are already six systems ranging from 1MW – 3.8MW in size running in Hungary amongst slightly different circumstances fulfilling diverse system-requirements (cultural center, office buildings, warehouse spaces, university building and a Military Hospital). Thermowatt has designed, constructed and now operates these systems.


 What is your motivation to participate in the project?

Thermowatt has been part of the alternative energy market since its establishment. Its aim is to educate and raise awareness on the available but untapped alternative thermal energy source, the wastewater and all its potential in heating and cooling supply with high energy efficiency and the elimination of fossil energy sources. The technology is suitable for the establishment of multi-megawatt scale system applications thus it could be a valuable part of any building or even district size energy system reconstructions, smart city initiations and developments.

Thermowatt aims to gain even more awareness and publicity to the energy utilisation of sewage heat and is prepared to put different size solutions on the table as a valid and valuable counter option for building or district heating and cooling system supply.

With the developments included in the project, there is not only the possibility to develop elements of the system to enhance its efficiency and reliability – or to even try them in the demo site settings during real operation- but also to work out collaborations between different technologies to further raise the value of the solution we could offer.
This provides a remarkable opportunity and experience for Thermowatt.


What are the energy challenges in your demo site?

In the demo site 4 in Budapest, there are several municipality buildings that have been supplied with thermal energy by separate low-efficiency gas boilers and chillers. The municipality decided to focus on the retrofitting of the buildings enhancing energy efficiency and possibly taking advantage of available alternative energy sources in favour of cutting back on the amount of energy consumed as well as on CO2 emissions. Thus it decided to have its buildings surrounding the local main square be connected with one combined district heating&cooling supply line that is forwarding thermal energy gained from the communal sewage running in a main collector underneath the square.

The main challenges are to provide reliable and continuous energy supply (both heating and cooling) from the same main thermal central station to three different buildings – for now – having different inner heating supply systems, even differing in required water temperature. The buildings are very different in size, year of construction (1900, 2001, 2018 – under construction), intended function and structure.

Apart from the technical challenges, there are also difficulties to be faced originating from the partner and owner of the buildings, the Municipality, which means that more complicated and specialised management and authorisation works are required.


Which are the expected benefits-results your company aims to demonstrate in the Heat4Cool project?

With the help of the Heat4Cool project, Thermowatt aims to improve its services and its proprietary technology in favour of achieving higher energy efficiency targets, thus providing a green energy sourced heating/cooling system solution as a valid alternative to the traditional systems.
Heating and cooling supply are the biggest energy consumption in buildings, therefore, significant energy savings and CO2 emissions reduction could be adopted in this sector, fighting for climate change.

With the developed of new system elements, the improved related activities and services and the complex suggestions for the combination of different technologies worked out as part of Heat4Cool, Thermowatt could take a higher position in the alternative thermal energy market with a significantly improved portfolio.

A tangible result of the project is going to be the installation of the developed prototype equipment in the Demo site 4, which will be monitored and analysed during 1 year period trial, in the course of which highly valuable experiences and knowledge will be gained on the performances of the system and the prototypes, during the trials of different operation profiles and supply requirements. All these acquired cognition can be well utilised for the improvement of Thermowatt’s system solution and services.