Cogeneration is a simultaneous production of electrical and thermal energy resulting from maximum use of primary energy (natural gas or biogas) by use of systems that ensure maximum energy efficiency and do not release to the environment, but recover and enhance heat produced by an endothermic engine (or turbine).
Producing electrical energy by a cogeneration system is very advantageous compared to simply purchasing energy; furthermore, it allows to make maximum use of heat generated by engine cooling processes: hot water can be released directly into the production cycle and used to warm up work areas, while the high heat generated by exhaust fumes can be used to generate steam or heated water, to warm up the diathermic oil, or for other needs.
Cogeneration reduces energy costs up to 30% and improves the public image of companies and factories. Furthermore, it contributes to creating an environmentally sustainable system that is in synch with European and national directives, as well as global objectives aimed at safeguarding the environment.
It is a primary energy source, primarily of fossil origins. Natural gas is a a combustible mix of gaseous substances (comprising hydrocarbons and non-hydrocarbons). Hydrocarbons include methane, ethane, propane, and butane gas, while non-hydrocarbons include primarily carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulphur oxides. Natural gas accumulates in self-contained underground deposits, where porous and above impermeable rocks trap the gas avoiding its escape towards the surface.
Cogeneration systems are also successfully deployed in greenhouses and are a very versatile energy source. Use of natural gas cogeneration in the greenhouse sector allows simultaneous production of thermal energy and CO2. Electricity can be used for illumination or released to electricity distribution networks. Heat can be used for hot water production, at high or low temperatures, used to heat, or to control temperatures in the greenhouse. CO2 is an excellent fertilizer.
Electrical energy is used to power lamps that simulate sun light and stimulate plant growth, even during times of scarce natural light. A system to recover heat is then used to produce hot water that can warm up the greenhouse, while an urea catalyst decrease pollutants that may be present in the greenhouse, such as NOx, which can be released into the greenhouse thus favoring plant growth thanks to its CO2 intake. This allows an increase of production yields up to 30% more than traditional cultivation in greenhouses that do not use CO2. As a result, the cultivation period increases along with the quantity of cultivated products.