Perspectives: Energy Saver

Sustain Energy Costs through Simple Changes

Inexpensive alterations to operations may substantially cut energy costs.

By Ven V. Venkatesan, Energy Columnist

Process improvements such as high-yield catalysts, equipment advances, better design and process control changes can result in substantial energy savings. However, it’s not always necessary to look for complex process changes to save energy. Simple modifications to operations also can complement energy optimization efforts, resulting in significant energy savings. Here are some examples. Plants often use equipment designed to operate only during abnormal operations in normal situations. Operating a burner over 40–50% excess air level, instead of the optimum 10–20% level is one such example. Opportunities similar to this exist in plants that run multi-stage processes. In petroleum refineries and petrochemical plants, the product of one unit could be the raw material of another unit. Such plants store the intermediate product to improve the operational flexibility of the processing units. Product coolers generally facilitate storage. However, when the product could be supplied continuously as feed to the next unit, simply bypassing the intermediate product cooler can save unnecessary cooling and fuel.   

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