The economic benefits often are substantial. For instance, Dow Chemical's St. Charles Operations in Hainesville, La., reaped savings of more than $1.9 million annually, with costs to improve operations paid back in about six weeks ("Steam Projects Provide Fast Payback").
Our third online poll asked: "How recently have you done an energy audit of your site?" While 39% of respondents reported such an audit was done within the last year, 18% said "never."
An annual checkup makes sense, counsels "It's Time To Review Your Plant Energy Systems." It recommends looking at ten aspects — including motors, hydraulics, the air system, steam, insulation and even non-process systems like lighting.
Furnaces and boilers often offer opportunities, notes "Take a Fresh Look at Your Process Heaters," and "Take a Fresh Look at Your Process Heaters — Part 2." A key point about enhancing energy efficiency is that it must involve ongoing efforts. In some cases, achieving initial improvements isn't that hard, what's tricky is sustaining them. "Make Your Energy Savings Permanent," suggests five ways to retain the gains.
Plants must get in the habit of paying more attention to energy efficiency and conducting more frequent and comprehensive auditing.
Mark Rosenzweig is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org