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New International Standard for Evaluating Energy Efficiency of Industrial Furnaces Issued Aiming at the popularization of low-carbon industrial furnaces originating in Japan

Japan's industrial furnaces boast high-temperature air combustion and other highly energy-efficient technologies, in which low carbonization is advancing (hereinafter referred to as “low-carbon industrial furnaces”). As economic development has been increasing the demand for industrial furnaces in Southeast Asia and other neighboring countries, establishment of a system for appropriately evaluating the energy-efficient performance of low-carbon industrial furnaces was needed by Japan's low-carbon industrial furnaces industry in order to fortify their international competitiveness.

Against this backdrop, Japan submitted a proposal to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for establishing a new standard for methods of evaluating the energy efficiency of industrial furnaces. In response, the ISO finally issued a new standard based on the proposal. Japan expects that this new international standard will encourage Japanese companies to further export Japan-oriented low-carbon industrial furnaces.

1. Background

In recent years, as Japanese manufacturers using industrial furnaces have been shifting their production bases to overseas countries and economic development has been advancing in Southeast Asia and other neighboring countries, demand for industrial furnaces has been increasing overseas. In light of the need for further enhancement of energy efficiency, countermeasures against global warming, energy price surges, and other elements, high potential demand is expected for Japan’s low-carbon industrial furnaces with high-temperature air combustion and other highly energy-efficient technologies. To meet this demand, establishment of a system for appropriately evaluating the energy-efficient performance of low-carbon industrial furnaces was needed.


Picture of an industrial furnace
(Source: The Japan Industrial Furnace Manufacturers Association (JIFMA) website)

Note1:The term “industrial furnaces” refers to those applied in the process of melting, smelting, various treatments, hot processing, sintering, firing, heating for reaction, and industrial-waste incineration or deodorizing in the metal, general machinery, electric and electronic, new material, mainly involving fine ceramics, ceramics, chemicals, and environment related industries.

2. Outline of ISO new standard and background to the issuance

To meet such a need, in February 2015, Japan submitted a proposal to ISO/TC244 (industrial furnaces and associated processing equipment) for developing a new international standard for methods of evaluating the energy sufficiency of industrial furnaces. ISO/TC244 is a technical committee engaging in Japan-led activities, the Chairperson and the Secretariat of which have been served by JIFMA.

For approximately two and a half years, the technical committee held meetings to discuss the development of a new standard. In these meetings, Japanese experts from the manufacturers of industrial furnaces, Hokkaido University, and other entities proactively participated in these and held repeating discussions in coordination with experts from other member countries, including Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy and the Republic of Korea. As a result, in August 2017, the ISO officially issued a new international standard based on the proposal.

Key points of the newly-issued international standard (ISO13579-11: industrial furnaces and associated processing equipment -- Method of measuring energy balance and calculating energy efficiency -- Part 11: Evaluation of various kinds of efficiency) are as follows:

  • The new standard stipulate efficiency indices, an important element for conducting energy efficiency measures for industrial furnaces.
  • It describes case examples of approaches to evaluating energy efficiency measures taking advantage of newly-stipulated efficiency indices as well as explaining the usefulness of these indices.
  • In addition to the existing thermal efficiency (enthalpy efficiency), it also newly stipulates the “exergy efficiency”, a new, recent index applied to consider energy quality, and describe, in Appendices, the difference in concepts between the exergy efficiency and the thermal efficiency using concrete examples, thereby expanding options in evaluating the energy efficiency of industrial furnaces.

Note2:The term “exergy” refers to the theoretical maximum energy converted to work until achieving equilibrium with the environment. This term is also called “available energy.”

3. Future actions

Taking advantage of past accumulated demonstration data, energy balance tables compliant with these standards, and software as an efficiency evaluation tool enabling efficiency evaluation, METI will strive to promote the popularization of Japan’s low-carbon industrial furnaces with excellent performance in energy efficiency in Southeast Asian and other countries, and also engage in efforts for encouraging Japanese companies to further enter overseas markets and efforts for decreasing global energy consumption.

Note3:This successful standardization is partly due to the achievements using the Expenditures for the Strategic Development of International Standards Project for Rational Energy Use (international standardization for evaluating a variety of energy efficiencies of industrial furnaces and establishment of bases for popularization of these standards), which METI has commissioned to a private entity.

Release date

September 14, 2017

Division in Charge

International Standardization Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau

Related website

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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