In 2001, va-Q-tec was founded based on the idea of developing an insulating material that would make the use of thermal energy more efficient. Within 20 years, the company opened up various markets with the help of its innovative key technology, effectively contributing to this goal. This has also been accompanied by the permanent optimization of its production processes. A major step towards the best possible energy efficiency was the certification as a climate-neutral company for the year 2020 [link]. The optimization of in-house production processes and also the installation of a combined heat and power plant during the conversion of the new company premises were elementary components for this award. The power plant is one of the most sustainable and modern plants in Germany, generating both electricity and thermal energy.
Combined in a single unit (“block”), the power plant uses the waste heat (“heiz”) generated by the combustion of fuels to produce electricity (“kraft”). This so-called combined heat and power generation results in an extremely high efficiency of the primary energy used, in the case of va-Q-tec natural gas. If, for example, large coal-fired power plants can only use about 45% of the primary energy, the combined heat and power plant from va-Q-tec uses over 80%. Through further improvements and continuously expanded energy management, the degree of utilization is increasing every year. In 2020, for example, over 32,000 m³ less natural gas was used and yet over 250,000 kWh more energy was generated than in 2019.
In a process known as combined heat and power (CHP), the combustion of natural gas drives a generator that produces electricity. The resulting heat is transferred to a buffer storage tank, which ultimately powers Würzburg’s production of vacuum insulation panels (VIPs). The residual heat from this, as well as the emitted waste heat from production, is then used for room air conditioning: In winter as heating energy, in summer by using special cold-heat transformation for room cooling.
Additional thermal efficiency is provided by the VIP-insulated outer layer of the 20,000-liter hot water tank. The result is that 74% of the tank surface is covered with VIPs, which reduces losses of thermal energy by over 50%. The pipes installed in the Würzburg plant, which distribute thermal energy in the building, are also VIP-insulated. This also further minimizes the energy losses of the entire plant. The video below shows the VIP insulation during installation of the power plant.