District heating

District heating (also known as heat networks or campus heating) is a system that transports heat to residential and commercial buildings through insulated pipes. This heat can come from a variety of traditional and green sources like Combined Heat and Power, energy for waste, geothermal, solar thermal, and waste heat recovery. Alfa Laval’s energy efficient plate heat exchangers can support all district heating processes, reducing carbon emissions and demand for primary energy at the same time.

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Choose the right district energy partner

  • We know that district heating is important to scale up the use of renewably sourced energy and increase heat recovery.
  • With service centers all over the world and millions of heat exchangers in operation today, Alfa Laval has a proven track record.
  • Our product range covers everything from heat generation in production facilities, to heating the water in your shower.
  • And, with AHRI Third party performance certification, you can rest easy that the thermal performance of our products is as good as we say it is.
  • As one of our biggest markets, research and development in district heating is high on our agenda and we are creating with you in mind.

Trends in district heating industry

Today, the heating sector is influenced by multiple trends. These are driven by increased decarbonization expectations, energy supply security, energy cost, customer usability, and energy-efficient performance.

Some of the trends in the district heating sector are:

  • Grids moving from high to lower grid temperature
  • Energy sources are moving from fossil fuels to renewables and recycled energy
  • Centralized production is complimented with decentralized production
  • New flexible solutions in terms of supply and network size
  • Trend in the sector to work more long term with investments, digitalization and asset management
  • Extended involvement and interaction with the end user to work with energy efficiency and to reuse heat. The customers are viewed as “Prosumers” – both consumers and producers
Recovering industrial waste heat with heat exchangers and using it for district heating is one of the most effective ways to improve energy efficiency on a global scale. The Aurubis Group has taken this very approach to improve sustainability in one of their smelters.

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District heating from first to fourth generation

Alfa Laval Heat exchanger plays a vital role in the new generations of district heating, district heating generation 4 and generation 5, and in the task of lowering the temperature of district heating networks generation 3.

Alfa Laval has a wide range of special heat exchangers developed for the HVAC market. We been working with district energy for over 70 years. Together with consultants, system builders, energy companies and our partners we are driving the transformation of the energy landscape. We are proud to be change agents in this energy transition. Do not hesitate to contact your local Alfa Laval office to hear more about the solutions of tomorrow.



Alfa Laval Solutions in District heating

Alfa Laval can supply solutions both for energy production and the substations distributing efficient energy into the buildings. Low return temperature increases the efficiency of the total system efficiency.



1. Energy Generation in transformation

Alfa Laval heat exchangers are used to extract heat from the source. The trend is going towards more renewable energy sources, waste heat recovery and new future energy sources like data centres and some energy companies are exploring the possibilities with green hydrogen.

2. Heatpumps harvesting energy at the source or from waste streams

Alfa Laval heat excahnegrs can also be used as heat pumps. Heat pumps can be used in connection with for example a waste water treatment plant producing energy for a district energy network. A heat pump can also be located in a basement of a commercial building reusing the heat from for example a restaurant or a smaller data center. In many installations in heat-efficient buildings, the heat pump is producing both heating and cooling.



In some grids heat exchangers are used as pressure breakers in large networks with height-related issues and altitude differences. This can be in between different city networks or large distribution grids coming from a production facility located, sometimes far away, and at a higher altitude than the city using the district heating. The heat exchangers will work as pressure breakers in these applications.

Heat exchangers can also be placed in substations between the main pipe network (distributions or primary network) and the service pipe, the pipe connections from the main network to each building, or to a secondary network connecting the end users.

A secondary heating network enables low-temperature systems, where the incoming water to the end users can be of a lower temperature than the primary grid. With low-temperature systems, an entire area can receive heat from a shared heat substation.


End User

Heat exchangers are one of the most central components in District heating substations at end users. District heating distributes water from a centralized substation, or energy transfer station, to individual buildings using heat exchanger technology, or ‘pressure-breakers’.

Heat exchangers are needed for two main reasons. Firstly, they are used to isolate the individual heating systems from the main distribution network to optimize energy use. This makes it possible to customize the amount of heating water each building uses depending on their requirements. As the substation usually operates at much higher pressures than what is typically needed, this significantly improves the distribution efficiency. Secondly, they limit the amount of damage one could incur if there is a leak, as the pressure breaker is capped at the amount of heating water it can let into a set space.


Making efficiency last for decades

A poorly functioning heat exchanger may affect safety, product quality and energy costs. Failure may lead to costly downtime and major losses in production. By regular and proactive maintenance of your gasketed plate heat exchanger performance is preserved and operations kept trouble-free and predictable.

We have the expertise to help you whether you experience a problem today, wish to prevent future issues or want to solve the problem yourself with our online troubleshooter.

See our total service solutions

HVAC and the Sustainable cities

Consuming more than two-thirds of the world’s energy, our cities play a crucial role in tackling the climate crisis. A considerable part of cities’ energy consumption is for heating and cooling, which means improving energy efficiency is paramount. Alfa Laval has almost a century of experience in heat transfer and recovery and aims to become carbon neutral by 2030. Let us be your partner in the transformation to a sustainable tomorrow.

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Consultant? System integrator?

Are you a consultant? Look here! With expertise from decades of experience in heat exchange, Alfa Laval offers knowledgeable resources for today’s heating and cooling challenges. Discover answers to complex questions on everything from energy efficiency to natural refrigerants, along with helpful tools that make it simpler to find the right technology for your application.

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