The high consumption process industry is facing a complex set of challenges. With volatile energy markets, tight budgets, increasing demands for sustainability, not to mention a global pandemic which has impacted supply chains, suspended business operations and decreased revenues, staying competitive is no mean feat.
Against such a backdrop, replacing ageing, inefficient processing equipment may not be top of mind. However, for such an energy guzzling sector, even a slight improvement in efficiency is likely to benefit not only the environment but also a manufacturer’s bottom line. Upgrading machinery with recognised efficiency ratings could significantly reduce energy and, ultimately, costs.
Despite the positive effect on the bottom line, replacing equipment means an increase in capital cost. Previously, balancing this against operating cost, reliability, revenue, safety and the environment often proved too great an obstacle to overcome.
But this situation may now be changing as new, tighter legislation governing aspects of the sector emerges. Where highly efficient equipment was once a luxury, it now looks set to become essential.
Motors and drives
Ubiquitous in the process industry and one of the major energy users, until recently some motors, including those designed for hazardous areas, were exempt from energy efficiency regulations. But these regulations are about to change to include a wider scope of motors.
Marek Lukaszczyk, European and Middle East marketing manager at leading global manufacturer of motors and drives, WEG, believes the changing regulations and the new energy efficiency requirements for hazardous area motors could provide significant financial gain.
The introduction of MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standard) by the EU Commission in 2009, along with updates to the legislation in 2016, brought about huge improvements to the energy consumption related to motor use, as well as a market which reflected the shift in regulation by transitioning quickly to more efficient motors.
However, the regulations currently cover only three-phase motors ranging from 0.75 kW to 375 kW. From January 2021 this changes, and all new 2-, 4-, 6- and 8-pole motors in the power range 0.75-1,000 kW will need to meet IE3 efficiency class (premium levels of efficiency) while sizes from 0.12-0.75 will need to meet IE2 (high levels of efficiency).
Even a slight improvement in efficiency, extrapolated over the sheer volume of motors and hours of operation, will benefit the businesses’ bottom line
Marek Lukaszczyk, European and Middle East marketing manager, WEG
New ATEX motors entering the supply chain will have to be rated IE3 or higher with increased safety motors Ex eb being the only exception. And even these motors will need to achieve at least IE2 efficiency level by 2023.
Lukaszczyk notes that while energy efficient motors for hazardous environments have been available from WEG for decades, with no obligation to implement high levels of energy efficiency in hazardous environments, some businesses opted for low efficiency motors, possibly due to cheaper upfront costs.
WEG’s hazardous area motors already meet the new energy efficiency standards and the manufacturer also has a superpremium range of safe area and hazardous area IE4 motors. This will prove useful – as from 2023, safe area motors between 75 kW and 200 kW, that are not brake motors or hazardous area motors, will be required to meet efficiency class IE4.
“In energy-intensive industries, such as chemical, pharmaceutical or oil and gas, thousands of motors often operate 24 hours a day. Even a slight improvement in efficiency, extrapolated over the sheer volume of motors and hours of operation, will benefit the businesses’ bottom line.
“Energy costs for electric motors account for 95 to 97% of total life cycle costs, depending on the application. Investment in energy-efficient drives and motors, even if it’s not through choice, usually provides 24 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 a very short return on investment.
Take the IE3 W22Xd series of explosionproof motors from WEG for example. The lower operating costs of these induction motors can reduce costs by 20 to 40% compared with conventional approaches.” says Lukaszczyk.
Boilers and burners
Another fundamental requirement of process manufacturing is the need for heat. This is commonly met with boilers which form a crucial part of many processes.
As the volatility of the fuel market looks set to continue and with the heightened focus on CO2 emissions, it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure that the efficiency of this equipment is maximised.
Following the launch of the Optimo 2 burner for medium size firetube steam boilers, Babcock Wanson has now introduced the Optimo 1.
This new product incorporates all the technological innovations of Optimo 2 but in a burner designed for smaller output boilers with a capacity of 1 to 2 t/h.
Optimo 1 is compliant with all applicable regulations, including the Medium Combustion Plant directive and has, been designed for energy efficiency.
This energy efficiency is achieved through precise digital control of low excess air levels throughout the turndown range, resulting in excellent combustion efficiency regardless of the process load. Optimo 1 performs with a very high turndown ratio, enabling the boiler to adjust its output to meet the needs of the process. This avoids the costly energy losses incurred by continual stop/start cycles.
Electricity consumption has also been reduced in Babcock Wanson’s latest burner through the introduction of three interchangeable combustion air fans, covering the power range 1 t/h, 1.5 t/h and 2 t/h. This enables Optimo 1 to perfectly match the boiler requirement and allows greater burner turndown as well as reduced electric consumption when operating at lower power levels.
The wider fan range available with the Optimo 1 has a further benefit: noise levels are reduced when using lower fan powers.
The electronics of the combustion equipment is integrated into the new casing of the Optimo 1, facilitating its interface with a customer’s plant. This, combined with a new burner management system, makes it easy to install and use. Also, the burner can be retrofitted to upgrade boilers.
“We are very proud of the Optimo 1. Its credentials are really in line with our mission at Babcock Wanson to reduce the energy consumption and environmental footprint of all our appliances. Our research and development is very much focussed on these two points,” said Charles Tetard, marketing and business development manager, Babcock Wanson.