Brambati discusses the benefits of its heat recovery system

Brambati S.p.A

Brambati S.p.A explains the benefits of its heat recovery system for roasting equipment and why sustainability is a key focus in 2023.

Roasting coffee beans requires a lot of heat. Well known solutions, such as cyclones and afterburners, can to some extent reduce heat loss or recycle a part of the residual heat. However, according to Brambati S.p.A President and CEO Fabrizio Brambati, Brambati can now rely on an improved technology, the heat recovery system, which significantly enhances the energy efficiency of Brambati’s coffee production plants.

“The heating recovery system is based on an air and water heat exchanger which allows a stream of water to be heated by a stream of hot air,” Brambati says.

“The heat exchanger allows the heat of the air leaving the roaster to be recovered and used to heat water and cool the air before it is discharged into the environment.”

Brambati says 90 per cent of wasted heat from flue gases can be recovered and the heat deriving from other processes, such as cooling of the roasted beans, can be used to dry the green beans before entering the roasting hopper.

“The heat can be used in absorption coolers where the roasted beans are cooled. With the heat recovery system, the process heat is recovered and stored in a buffer tank for later use, when and if the need arises,” he says.

“The recovered heat does not necessarily need to be used in the roasting process. It can also be used for heating and cooling tasks throughout the facility, such as for cleaning, bathing, and utility water, and heating offices, warehouses, or factories.”

Brambati says the centrifugal pump and its accessories allow water to circulate in a closed circuit without water consumption, which arrives cold and exits hot from the recovery system.

“Therefore, the system controls the flow and temperature of the water, as well as ensuring safe operation and transmission of signals for a proper diagnosis. The heat recovery system can simply be plugged in and receive water to be heated and distribute heated water from and to the water plant main collectors,” he says.

“It also includes related accessories such as a flow meter, temperature probes, safety valves, and other safety and monitoring devices, designed to flexibly relieve excess pressure from vessels or equipment at all times and under any circumstances.”

The heat recovery system has an automatic control system for the temperature of hot water and the air circuit is equipped with its own automatic booster fan.

“The purpose of the booster is to guarantee the roasting process the same operating conditions, avoiding any potential interference with the quality of the coffee. This is indispensable when applying heat recovery in existing plants,” Brambati says.

The ventilation system also features butterfly valves on the flue air exhaust duct that are engineered to prevent the closing of the roaster exhaust.

“The circuit never closes, even when the valve is closed, as there is no impediment to the circulation of air through the heat exchanger and back into the chimney. At most, a slight increase in pressure may be produced, which poses no risk to the roasting quality,” says Brambati.

“In the event of a pneumatic or electric fault, the butterfly valve on the roaster stack automatically opens up and the valves going and coming from the heat exchanger close, preventing any pressure build-up upstream of the system.”

The system is also equipped with a continuous supervision and monitoring process, which allows for the early detection of abnormal running situations, so that any need for maintenance work can be predicted in time.

The heat recovery system allows for the recovery of about 450 kilowatts of thermal power. This is equivalent to a saving about 45 normal cubic metres of natural gas in a 300-kilogram batch roaster.

Brambati says the heat recovery system can be utilised with all roaster sizes, equipped with a flue gas burner and reduces machine consumption and emissions during the hot air recirculation.

“The heat recovery system in no way affects the roasting process. This system is dedicated to recovering heat from the roasting fumes that would otherwise be wasted and dispersed into the atmosphere. The environmental benefit includes reducing atmospheric heat and the amount of energy purchased, which is recovered,” Brambati says.

Brambati is in the process of decarbonising its operations and the use of its machinery for end-users, called Scope 3.

“Recovering heat makes coffee production more environmentally sustainable as it reduces global warming and the operational cost of production, making it economically beneficial for the coffee producer through a quick payback of the investment,” says Brambati.

At Brambati, sustainable practices don’t just apply to the manufacturing of equipment but are integrated in the company’s 360-degree sustainable philosophy.

“We are completely self-sufficient. We use solar panels to harness energy to power our facility and have implemented many controls to ensure there is no waste,” Brambati says.

“We started from the measurement of consumption and waste and then, during the redesign [of our machinery], we have reduced the number of components used and the working waste.”

Brambati’s commitment to sustainability earned the company a Gold Certificate in November 2021 from EcoVadis, an independent company that evaluates sustainability and the corporate responsibility in global supply chains.

“At Brambati, we recognise the importance of adopting a sustainable approach for civil society, including local communities, associations and authorities, and we’re working to leave a durable environmental legacy for future generations,” says Brambati.

The Italian roaster manufacturer has always looked for roasting innovations to help drive the company’s sustainability goals forward during its long history in the roasting business.

“We have constantly focused on the environment and sustainability, so for us, all the developments we have made to the roasting system have always been in this area. We are always looking for ways to improve our roaster’s emissions reduction results,” says Brambati.

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This article was first published in the March/April 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. To read the research paper, click HERE.

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