Industrial Energy Savings    

Vacuum/Blowers

Every municipality and utility is facing the reality of rising energy costs. In 2010, the Town of Billerica, MA, which is located 22 miles northwest of Boston with a population of just under 40,000 residents, engaged Process Energy Services and Woodard & Curran to conduct an energy evaluation of the Town’s Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) and pump station systems sponsored by National Grid. The objective of the evaluation was to provide an overview of each facility system to determine how electrical energy and natural gas were being used at the facility and to identify and develop potential costsaving projects.
This food industry factory, located in California, was spending $386,533 annually on energy to operate their compressed air system. This system assessment detailed eleven (11) project areas where yearly energy savings totaling $154,372 could be found with a investment of $289,540. A local utility energy incentive, paying 9 cents/kWh, provided the factory with an incentive award of $159,778. This reduced the investment to $129,762 and provided a simple ROI of ten months on the project.
Bottling companies and breweries, in California, are benefiting from a three-step system assessment process aimed at reducing the electrical consumption of their compressed air systems. The three-step process reduces compressed air demand in bottling lines by focusing on open blowing and idle equipment, and then improves the specic power (reducing the energy consumption) of the air compressors.
The object of this article is to look at some very typical industrial water treatment processes and various compressed air and energy savings projects that have worked well for our clients over the years. The basic fundamentals with regard to compressed air usage are similar to municipal water treatment – a good starting point.
Assessing payback on engineered air nozzle and blower upgrades There are a variety of means factories can use to remove or “blowoff” moisture from a package. Open tubes or drilled pipe are often viewed as simple low-cost methods. However, there are considerable drawbacks to these approaches, most notably – increased operating expense. While they may be convenient and inexpensive in the short term, these approaches often cost 5-7 times more to operate than preferred alternatives.
Recently, The Kroger Company’s Indianapolis bakery identified the use of compressed air in a blow-off and conveyor gap transfer as a major source of energy loss and cost waste. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “inappropriate use” of compressed air like blow-off produces high pressure atmosphere bleed leading to significant energy loss and unnecessary operational costs. Carrying a 10-15% efficiency return (according to the Department of Energy), compressed air applications can often be achieved more effectively, efficiently and less expensively with alternative solutions using a high flow rate and moderate pressure.
One major problem that causes severe damage or system failure for any water treatment station is water hammer shock waves. “Water Hammer” or “Hydraulic Shock” is a pressure surge or shockwave resulting when a fluid (usually a liquid but sometimes also a gas) in motion is forced to stop or change direction suddenly (momentum change). The reversed momentum then continues to multiply the further it travels before being stopped.
"The Numbers Don’t Lie". It’s a popular saying everyone has heard before, applied to a variety of situations – political statistics, figures backing up an athlete’s performance and budget data. Thirty percent is a big number. Applied to the above scenarios, it could entail a landslide victory or a hitter gaining entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But just imagine, if the manager of a wastewater treatment facility were to trim 30 percent from their operating costs, he or she might also consider that a landslide victory of their own.  
A leading soft drink bottling manufacturer’s compressed air needs were threatening to exceed its Michigan plant’s compressed air capacity. Faced with the cost of buying a new compressor, the soft drink bottling manufacturer re-assessed their compressed air use to identify compressor and energy savings opportunities. In the audit, the soft drink bottling manufacturer identified the use of compressed air in a gap transfer as a source of compressed air and energy inefficiency.
The roots of our company start with my father, Jan Dekker, who was heavily involved with oil-sealed liquid ring vacuum systems used in the gold mines of South Africa. This was in the mid-1970’s when gold prices were going up. Vacuum systems (in the mines) were optimized by improving vacuum levels using oil instead of water and by adding vacuum boosters.
There is an enormous population of vacuum generators being used successfully by industry. Applications range from pick & place to vapor extraction to bulk material handling and the number of installations is growing. Before proceeding with an installation utilizing these devices, there are two general issues to consider: efficiency and appropriateness.