May is Energy Month in South Africa and no matter the size of your company, there is always an opportunity to become more energy efficient.
“Finding ways for your company to become more energy-efficient helps preserve the world's resources and makes a great deal of financial sense.
“Saving energy in your company can significantly reduce your operating costs and your impact on the environment,” says Deidré Penfold, Executive Director of the Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association (CAIA).
Here are some suggestions:
- 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.
“As all CAIA members voluntarily support our Responsible Care® initiative, we know that energy saving is already a top priority. May 2018 offer another opportunity to review efforts and find ways to improve even more,” says Penfold.