Process Heating

Industrial process heating systems are ubiquitous in the industrial sector as they are essential in the manufacture of most consumer and industrial products, including products made out of metal, plastic, rubber, concrete, glass, and ceramics. Within the United States, fuel-based process heating (excluding electricity and steam generation) consumes 5.2 quadrillion Btu of energy annually, which equals roughly 17% of total industrial energy consumption[1].

Energy performance improvements in process heating systems differ between fuel- and electric-based, but are most effective when accomplished by combining a systems approach with an awareness of efficiency and performance improvement opportunities that are common to systems with similar operations and equipment.  

Top Ten Energy Efficiency Measures for Process Heating Systems

  1. Check Burner Air-to-Fuel Ratios
  2. Use Oxygen-Enriched Air for Combustion
  3. Check Heat Transfer Surfaces
  4. Reduce Air Infiltration in Furnaces
  5. Furnace Pressure Controllers
  6. Reduce Radiation Losses from Heating Equipment
  7. Install Waste Heat Recovery Systems for Fuel-Fired Furnaces
  8. Pre-heat Combustion Air
  9. Pre-heat Loads Using Flue Gases from a Fuel-Fired Heating System
  10. Using Waste Heat for External Processes

You can read related TIP SHEETS AND PUBLICATIONS to improve performance and save energy, accumulated over time by the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Learn more with the PROCESS HEATING SYSTEM CHEAT SHEET, explore additional resources specific to Better Plants partners, and connect with the proccess heating-subject matter expert below.

[1] Roadmap for Process Heating Technology: Priority Research & Development Goals and Near-Term Non-Research Goals To Improve Industrial Process Heating, Industrial Heating Equipment Association, U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Technologies Program, Capital Surini Group International, Inc., Energetics, Inc., March 16, 2001.


The process heating sourcebook was developed for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). AMO undertook this project as a series of sourcebook publications. Other topics in this series include: compressed air systems, steam, fan systems, pumping, and motor and drive systems.

Improving Process Heating System Performance: A Sourcebook for Industry (Third Edition)

This sourcebook describes basic process heating applications and equipment, and outlines opportunities for energy and performance improvements. It also discusses the merits of using a systems approach in identifying and implementing these improvement opportunities. It is not intended to be a comprehensive technical text on improving process heating systems, but serves to raise awareness of potential performance improvement opportunities, provides practical guidelines, and offers suggestions on where to find additional help.

Subject Matter Expert - Sachin Nimbalkar

Sachin has more than eight years of professional experience which includes working as a R&D Staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Sachin provides technical support to Better Buildings, Better Plants partners (mainly industrial and wastewater treatment partners) through energy road map development, baselining analysis, In-Plant Trainings, and field visits to investigate feasible measure to reduce process energy requirements. Sachin has conducted several training and demonstration workshops throughout the U.S., India, China, Ukraine, Costa Rica, and Turkey covering energy efficiency in process heat systems, system specific and cross-cutting energy audits, and ISO 50001 implementation steps and tools. Sachin has also contributed for the development of several U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) software tools, including the process heating tools (PHAST and PHMT) and the EnPI tool. Sachin has achieved the “Qualified Specialist” recognition in using three key DOE energy efficiency software tools – PHAST, SSAT, and PSAT. He received a B.E. degree in mechanical engineering from Government College of Engineering, Pune, India, and M.S. and PhD degrees again in mechanical engineering from Rutgers University, New Jersey.

You can reach Sachin with process heating-related questions at