May is National Energy Month in South Africa. The fact that South Africa is experiencing an energy crisis is no secret and we need to find solutions urgently. It will take a combined effort from households, businesses and government to work together and change our dependency on the national energy provider to supply our energy.
Here are some suggestions to consider:
- Optimise the use of existing equipment.
- Maintain existing equipment. A large proportion of energy used by chemical companies is related to the operation of furnaces and boilers. The efficient use of this equipment depends on good control and regular maintenance to reduce energy wastage in steam distribution.
- Upgrade equipment to improve process efficiency.
- Implement effective shut down procedures. Most manufacturing plants have energy overheads, such as energy-using equipment that is left on even when the plant is not producing anything. Ensuring that all equipment is turned off when not in use is a simple way to reduce energy usage.
- Optimise operating temperatures and pressures. The percentage yield and rate of chemical reactions is highly dependent on temperature and pressure. It may be possible to achieve energy savings through reviewing the optimal temperatures and pressures for particular chemical processes.
- Ensure chemical distillation is being carried out under optimum conditions and that the products are not being over-purified.
- Decrease processing temperature, optimise cooling temperature and set thermostats to an appropriate temperature – A one-degree Celsius drop in average space temperature can cut fuel consumption by about 8%.
- Monitor and adjust the pressure of equipment.
- Minimise heat loss from steam generation processes.
- Thermal insulation of pipes and taps and the replacement of defective steam traps are effective cost-saving measures in the distribution of steam. The amount of energy involved should also provide a strong incentive for minimising heat loss from boiler systems by insulating boiler valves, steam and condensate return pipes, and storage units.
- Use solar thermal systems for water heating.