Smart design process provides major energy savings
Due to the major developments in the energy market and the Climate Agreement, Uticon Engineers is receiving more and more questions from their customers in the food industry to save energy and make their production process as sustainable and efficient as possible.
The food industry is one of the largest energy consumers in the Netherlands
Currently, this industry mainly uses fossil fuels. Due to developments in the energy market and the Climate Agreement, the need to change this has increased enormously. But how do you make the right choices and where do you start? Uticon’s mission is to help customers become more sustainable and has developed an integrated approach to make the right choices and realize the most efficient solutions. Using this approach, complex energy transition projects are tackled in six steps.
The six steps:
- Inventorize –In the first phase, an inventory is made in collaboration with the customer of the complete heating and cooling needs of the factory or a production line.
- Minimize –The next step is to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. The complete production process has already been inventorized together with the customer and the option with the most favorable energy consumption is now selected for each phase.
- Optimize –The process temperatures are then determined as optimally as possible. This means that during the steps in the production process where heating takes place, the lowest possible temperature is used and where cooling takes place, this will be done at the highest possible temperature. In this phase the goal is to start from the existing production machines. If necessary, existing installations are adapted for this, for example replacing a heat exchanger in a production machine.
- Combine –An extensive energy and temperature balance is made of the entire factory, from production to the office. The entire production process is mapped out and it is determined where a removed heat flow of a certain temperature can be used as optimally as possible at another location in the production process. Steps ‘optimize’ and ‘combine’ are repeated several times until the most efficient production process can be designed. By looking at the integral heating and cooling demand of the entire site, more efficient solutions can be found.
- Engineer – In the past, natural gas was always used to heat processes in the Netherlands. It is possible to use a heat pump for most processes. With these heat pumps, the heat released in processes can be used in other processes at a higher temperature level. The use of heat pumps in the food industry provides significant savings. When using heat pumps, the use of fossil fuels is kept to a minimum and often even completely eliminated. In addition to energy savings, this also contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Currently, the investment costs of a system as described above are higher than a conventional system with gas-fired steam boilers. However, current experience is that payback times vary from 2 to 5 years.
“the payback periods vary from 2 to 5 years”
- Realize – The system must be realized in the final phase. Uticon’s many years of experience in construction supervision and commissioning come into its own here. Uticon is currently carrying out projects in the above-mentioned manner for several large companies in the food industry.
(This article was published in: Vakblad EVMI – November 2022)