How Mid-South Metallurgical cut Energy Use by 22%

Master looks on steelmaking process in furnace

Mid-South in Murfreesboro, Tennessee operates a high-energy plant providing precision heat treatments for high-speed tools – and also metal annealing and straightening services. This was a great business to be in before the energy crisis struck. That was about the same time the 2009 recession arrived. In no time at all the market was down 30%.

Investors had a pile of capital sunk into Mid-South’s three facilities spread across 21,000 square feet (2,000 square meters) of enclosed space. Within them, a number of twenty-five horsepower compressors plus a variety of electric, vacuum and atmospheric furnaces pumped out heat 27/7, 52 weeks a year. After the company called in the U.S. Department of Energy for assistance, several possibilities presented.

Insulate the Barium Chloride Salt Baths

The barium chloride salt baths used in the heat treatment process and operating at 1600°F (870°C) were a natural choice, since they could not be cooled below 1200°F (650°C) when out of use without hardening the barium chloride and clogging up the system. The amount of energy taken to prevent this came down considerably after they covered and insulated them. The recurring annual electricity saving was $53,000.

Manage Electrical Demand & Power

The utility delivers 480 volts of power to the three plants that between them consume between 825- and 875-kilowatt hours depending on the season. Prior to the energy crisis Mid-South Metallurgical regarded this level of consumption as a given. Following on the Department of Energy survey the company replaced the laminar flow burner tips with cyclonic burner ones, and implemented a number of other modifications to enhance thermal efficiency further. The overall natural gas reduction was 20%.

Implement Large Scale Site Lighting Upgrade

The 24/7 nature of the business makes lighting costs a significant factor. Prior to the energy upgrade this came from 44 older-type 400-watt metal halide fixtures. By replacing these with 88 x 8-foot (2.5 meter) fluorescent fittings Mid-South lowered maintenance and operating costs by 52%

The Mid-South Metallurgical Trophy Cabinet

These three improvements cut energy use by 22%, reduced peak electrical demand by 21% and brought total energy costs down 18%. Mid-South continues to monitor energy consumption at each strategic point, as it continues to seek out even greater energy efficiency in conjunction with its people.

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How Energy Conservation saved Fambeau River Paper

Making notes about printing machine

Rising energy costs caught this Wisconsin paper mill napping, and it soon shut down because it was unable to innovate. Someone else bought it and turned it around by measuring, modifying, monitoring and listening to people.

The Fambeau River Paper Mill in Prince County, Wisconsin USA employed 13% of the city’s residents until rising energy costs shut it down in 2006. Critics wrote it off as an energy dinosaur unable to adapt. But that was before another company bought it out and resuscitated it as a fleet-footed winner.

Its collapse was a long time coming and almost inevitable. Wisconsin electricity prices had grown a third since 1997, the machinery was antiquated and the dependence on fossil power absolute. So what did the new owners change, and is there anything we can learn from this?

The key to understanding what suddenly went right was the new owners’ ability to listen. They requested a government Energy Assessment that suggested a number of small step changes that took them where they needed to go in terms of energy saving. These included enhancements in steam systems and fuel switch modifications. However they needed more than that.

The second game changer was tracking down key members of the old workforce and listening to them too. This combination enabled them to finally hire back 92% of the original labour force under the same terms and conditions – and still make a profit (the other 8% had moved on elsewhere or retired). The combined energy savings produced a payback plan of 5.25 years. Three years into the project their capital investment of $15 million had already clawed back the following electricity savings.

  • Evaporator Temperature Control $2,245,000
  • Hot Water Heat Recovery $2,105,000
  • Paper Machine Devronisers $1,400,000
  • Increased Boiler Output $1,134,000
  • Paper Machine Modifications; $761,000
  • Motive Air Dryer $610,000
  • Accumulator Savings $448,000
  • Densified Fuels Plant $356,000

In terms of carbon dioxide produced, the Fambeau River Paper Mill’s contribution dropped from 1 ton to 600 pounds.

How well do you know where your company’s energy spend is concentrated, and how this compares with your industry average; could you be doing better if you innovated, and by how much? Get these questions answered by asking ecoVaro how easy it could be to get on top of your carbon metrics. This could cost you a phone call and a payback on it so rapid it’s not worth stopping to calculate.

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How Bombardier Inc. scored a Bulls Eye

Airplane In The Sky With Plane Trails

When travelling anywhere in the world on land, sea or air, chances are, you will travel courtesy of something made by aerospace and transportation company Bombardier based in Montreal, Canada. In 2009, it set itself the goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. In other words, it hoped to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it was putting in.

By 2012, Bombardier concluded it was not going to become carbon neutral by 2020 at its current rate of progress. It discounted purchasing carbon offsets because it believed it would serve its interests better by introducing new energy-saving products to market faster. That way, it would achieve its objectives vicariously through the decisions of its customers. But that was not all that forward-thinking Bombardier did. It also set itself the following inward-facing objectives:

  • Reduce carbon footprint through efficient use of energy and less emissions
  • Involve the Bombardier workforce to raise awareness of behaving responsibly
  • Implement sustainable initiatives to further reduce the company carbon footprint

Specific Examples

At its Wichita site, Bombardier (a) fitted a white roof and insulation reducing summer energy consumption by 40%, (b) added an energy recovery wheel to balance air circulation, and (c) introduced skylights with integrated controllers to lower energy consumption by lighting.

At Mirabel, it enhanced the flue-gas management system by adding a pressure differential damper.

At Belfast, Bombardier (a) optimised HVAC systems to reduce pressure on chilling and air-handling plants, (b) installed solar panels on the roof, and (c) obtained approval for a waste-to-energy plant that will convert 120,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste material annually.

By the end of 2013, Bombardier had already beaten its immediate targets by:

  • Reducing energy consumption by 11% against 2009
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emission by 23% against 2009
  • Reducing water consumption by 6% against 2012

Future Plans

Bombardier will never stop striving to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. It has a number of other projects in the pipeline waiting for scarce resources to fund them. During 2014, it continued with energy efficient upgrades at its French, Hungarian, Polish, Swiss, and UK plants.

These include consumption monitoring systems, LEDs for workshop lighting, new heating systems, and outdoor energy-saving tower lighting. The monitoring is important because it helps Bombardier focus effort, and provides measured proof of progress.

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How Armstrong World Industries is going Cradle-to-Cradle

Empty room with plants and blue wall

The Cradle-to-Cradle concept holds that human effort must be biometric, in other words enrich the environment within which it functions as opposed to breaking it down. This means manufacturing must be holistic in the sense that everything is reusable and nothing is destroyed. Armstrong World Industries was the first global mineral ceiling tile manufacturer to achieve Cradle-to-Cradle certification. We decided to take a closer look at how they achieved this.

Armstrong Worldwide Industries has five plants in the UK alone. These produce an annual turnover of €2.7 billion. They have been making ceilings for more than 150 years. Fifteen years ago and way ahead of the curve it started recycling, and has maintained a policy of not charging contractors for waste ever since. Along the way, it developed a product that can be re-used indefinitely.

The Challenge

Going green must also be commercially sustainable. In Armstrong’s case, it faced a rise in landfill tax from £8 per tonne per year to £80 per tonne per year. This turned the financial cost of waste from a nuisance to a threat. It calculated that recycling one tonne of ceiling materials would:

  • Eliminate 456kg of CO2 equivalents by saving 1,390 kWh of electricity
  • Preserve 11 tons of virgin material and save 1,892 gallons of potable water

They hoped to extend their own recycling project by asking demolition and strip-out contractors to join it, so they could reprocess their scrap as new batches of tiles too.

The Achievement

As things stand today, an Armstrong ceiling tile now contains an average of 82% recycled content. Indeed, if they could find more ceilings to recycle this could reach 100%. In the past two years alone, Armstrong Worldwide Industries UK has saved 130,399m² of greenfield from landfill, being the equivalent of 520 skips that would otherwise have cost contractors over £88,000 to dispose of.

The Broader Context

Armstrong Worldwide Industries is a global leader in water management, and is bent on minimising its reliance on fossil for energy. It has implemented online measurement systems that feed data to its corporate environmental, health and safety system. This empowers it to produce reports, track corrective actions and measure progress towards its overall goal of being carbon neutral.

Next time you sit beneath an Armstrong Worldwide Industries panelled ceiling, spare a thought for how much ecoVaro consumption analytics could contribute to your bottom line (and how it would feel to be lighter on carbon too).

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How Alcoa Canned the Cost of Recycling

Alcoa is one of the world’s largest aluminium smelting and casting multinationals, and involves itself in everything from tin cans, to jet engines to single-forged hulls for combat vehicles. Energy costs represent 26% of the company’s total refining costs, while electricity contributes 27% of primary production outlays. Its Barberton Ohio plant shaved 30% off both energy use and energy cost, after a capital outlay of just $21 million, which for it, is a drop in the bucket.

Aluminium smelting is so expensive that some critics describe the product as ‘solid electricity’. In simple terms, the method used is electrolysis whereby current passes through the raw material in order to decompose it into its component chemicals. The cryolite electrolyte heats up to 1,000 degrees C (1,832 degrees F) and converts the aluminium ions into molten metal. This sinks to the bottom of the vat and is collected through a drain. Then they cast it into crude billets plugs, which when cooled can be re-smelted and turned into useful products.

The Alcoa Barberton factory manufactures cast aluminium wheels across approximately 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) of plant. It had been sending its scrap to a sister company 800 miles away; who processed it into aluminium billets – before sending them back for Barberton to turn into even more wheels. By building its own recycling plant 60 miles away that was 30% more efficient, the plant halved its energy costs: 50% of this was through process engineering, while the balance came from transportation.

The transport saving followed naturally. The recycling savings came from a state-of-the-art plant that slashed energy costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Interestingly enough, processing recycled aluminium uses just 5% of energy needed to process virgin bauxite ore. Finally, aluminium wheels are 45% lighter than steel, resulting in an energy saving for Alcoa Barberton’s customers too.

The changes helped raise employee awareness of the need to innovate in smaller things too, like scheduling production to increase energy efficiency and making sure to gather every ounce of scrap. The strategic change created 30 new positions and helped secure 350 existing jobs.

The direction that Barberton took in terms of scrap metal recycling was as simple as it was effective. The decision process was equally straightforward. First, measure your energy consumption at each part of the process, then define the alternatives, forecast the benefits, confirm and implement. Of course, you also need to be able to visualise what becomes possible when you break with tradition.

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FUJIFILM Cracks the Energy Code

Digital electric meters in a row measuring power use. Electricity consumption concept.

FUJIFILM was in trouble at its Dayton, Tennessee plant in 2008 where it produced a variety of speciality chemicals for industrial use. Compressed-air breakdowns were having knock-on effects. The company decided it was time to measure what was happening and solve the problem. It hoped to improve reliability, cut down maintenance, and eliminate relying on nitrogen for back-up (unless the materials were flammable).

The company tentatively identified three root causes. These were (a) insufficient system knowledge within maintenance, (b) weak spare part supply chain, and (c) generic imbalances including overstated demand and underutilised supply. The maintenance manager asked the U.S. Department of Energy to assist with a comprehensive audit of the compressed air system.

The team began on the demand side by attaching flow meters to each of several compressors for five days. They noticed that – while the equipment was set to deliver 120 psi actual delivery was 75% of this or less. They found that demand was cyclical depending on the production phase. Most importantly, they determined that only one compressor would be necessary once they eliminated the leaks in the system and upgraded short-term storage capacity.

The project team formulated a three-stage plan. Their first step would be to increase storage capacity to accommodate peak demand; the second would be to fix the leaks, and the third to source a larger compressor and associated gear from a sister plant the parent company was phasing out. Viewed overall, this provided four specific goals.

  • Improve reliability with greater redundancy
  • Bring down system maintenance costs
  • Cut down plant energy consumption
  • Eliminate nitrogen as a fall-back resource

They reconfigured the equipment in terms of lowest practical maintenance cost, and moved the redundant compressors to stations where they could easily couple as back-ups. Then they implemented an online leak detection and repair program. Finally, they set the replacement compressor to 98 psi, after they determined this delivered the optimum balance between productivity and operating cost.

Since 2008, FUJIFILM has saved 1.2 million kilowatt hours of energy while virtually eliminating compressor system breakdowns. The single compressor is operating at relatively low pressure with attendant benefits to other equipment. It is worth noting that the key to the door was measuring compressed air flow at various points in the system.

ecoVaro specialises in analysing data like this on any energy type. 

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Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS): An Overview

solar panels and wind turbine

Energy management is crucial to most businesses in the UK. This is primarily because energy usage substantially affects all organizations, whether large or small. The good news is that, energy costs can be controlled through improved energy efficiency. And this is exactly why Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) came into being – to promote competitiveness among businesses.

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is the realisation of the UK Government’s ambition towards achieving the maximum potential of cost-effective energy in the economy. ESOS aims to stimulate innovation and growth, cut emissions and support a sustainable energy system.

ESOS at a Glance – Legal Perspective

The EU Energy Efficiency Directive took a major step forward on November 14, 2012 and headed towards establishing a framework to promote energy efficiency across various economic sectors. To interpret Article 8 of the Directive, the government has given birth to ESOS; requiring large enterprises to undergo mandatory energy audits and energy management systems by December 5, 2015 and at least every 4 years thereafter.

Large enterprises include UK companies that have more than 250 employees or those businesses whose annual turnover exceeds £50 million and whose statement of financial position totals more than £43 million. With this, over 7000 of the biggest companies in Britain will need to comply with ESOS as an approach to review their total energy use in buildings, business operations, transport and industrial processes.

Generally, ESOS is both an obligation and an opportunity. It is an obligation for the indicated target companies since they need to submit to additional regimes; focus on audit evidences; act in accordance to group structures and compliance; and observe limited penalties and note retention periods. Moreover, it is also an opportunity for companies to strive for more savings on energy projects; attempt to standardise their potential market; and effectively lower debt and legal costs.

ESOS Audits – Looking Beyond

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), average first audit costs would be estimated at about £17,000 and subsequent ones at around £10,000. As expected, these audits will result in energy saving recommendations, of which companies need not proceed for a follow up; and substantially improve businesses in their energy management issues. DECC further states that every business that complies with ESOS could save an average of £56,400 each year from an initial investment of £17,000 only.

Currently, up to 6,000 UK businesses are already subject to existing CRC Carbon Reduction Scheme, Mandatory Carbon Reporting, Climate Change Levy and other compliance. This signifies that ESOS may overlap with prevailing energy efficiency legislation and may put additional pressure on energy administration. While this is true, however, ESOS holds extensive benefits. Although the scheme can be viewed as another costly compliance to environmental standards, ESOS goes straight to the bottom line and provides the organisation with competitive advantage. If large businesses act now and comply with it, they will be able to enjoy maximised payback in the long run.

Indeed, Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is already here. It is mandatory with minimal investment. And all you have to do is act quickly, implement new improvements and earn more.

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Benefits of Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

Saving energy and your money

More than just building energy, improving skills and undertaking audits, Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme works beyond. ESOS adheres to policy coherence, provides information to raise awareness, facilitates energy efficiency market and encourages adoption of appropriate energy efficiency measures.

Generally, ESOS is great for energy professionals and businesses. And in the current situation of UK’s energy industry, this new scheme is a substantial help. The key is to know the benefits that ESOS provides, understand how it can affect you, learn how to maximise its potential and make a big difference. Here’s to explore the highlights of ESOS.

Who benefits from ESOS?

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme covers non-SME enterprises which includes UK businesses having more than 250 employees; even those with employees fewer than 250 but have annual turnover of more than £50m and balance sheet exceeding £43m; or those professionals that belong to a large enterprise. This is in accordance with what Article 8 of the EU Derivative provides.

What are the benefits of ESOS?

ESOS provides opportunities to enhance an organisation’s energy efficiency strategy, of which the benefits include:

Economic Growth and Competitiveness

The implementation of energy efficient measures increases local employment in the labour markets. Consequently, this taps the labour potential and drives economic growth.  In a lower carbon economy, businesses need to develop green projects to maintain economic competitiveness as well. ESOS is strategic approach initiated by the UK government to push technological innovation and energy investments.

Cost Savings and Emission Reductions

ESOS is flexible in such a way that it combines energy policies and innovations tailored to every organisation’s need. The energy efficiency measures taken, resulting from the scheme, quickly cuts down both carbon emissions and energy bills at cheapest possible ways.

Managing Energy Demand

ESOS provides energy security to UK by reducing the energy consumption of enterprises. With this, the economy would be more efficient and less exposed to international energy market volatility. Also, this will lead to more savings from less future investment in energy infrastructure.

Getting your Management Performance Noticed

If you are an energy professional, you will benefit from ESOS by exploiting it  to boost your charisma towards the company directors. You can show them how the scheme works and how it can save your company substantial costs. Managing energy with ESOS can help an organisation grow. Nevertheless, you are the key person designated to get the project done and achieve success.

How can ESOS make a difference?

More than anything else, ESOS can make a huge change. True to its name, it provides large enterprises the opportunity to manage energy wisely, reduce overhead costs and promote responsible corporate energy consumption.

The International Energy Agency said that investing in energy efficiency leads to growth, additional jobs, competent budgets on public spending and enhanced industry productivity. If you are an energy and environment professional or a non-SME business entity, you hold the impulse to act. Aside from all those excellent business benefits that you get to enjoy, you will be able to contribute a portion towards achieving UK’s national carbon target of 80% in CO2 by 2050.

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Recognizing Your Carbon Footprint

Footprint in the sand

Countless times we have heard of the term “carbon footprint”. Perhaps we have seen and heard it on TV or read it in newspapers, magazines and published articles. Indeed, it has been an expression familiar to everyone as it is always associated with climate change, carbon emissions, global warming, pollution and other environmental issues. Carbon footprint is real. It exists and, in fact, continues to affect the world we live in.

Defining Carbon Footprint

Two essential words comprise the term carbon footprint. Fundamentally, “carbon” means the carbon dioxide circulating in the atmosphere. It is also the general word used for other greenhouse gasses emitted into the air. On the other note, “footprint” refers to impact or effect.

Think about the footprints people leave on the beach sand upon walking on the shore. That is exactly what carbon footprint is like. It’s about the impact humans leave on the earth in the form of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Calculating Your Personal Carbon Footprint

The food we eat, products we use, vehicles we ride on and electricity we consume emit carbon dioxide. In fact, our activities, lifestyle, homes, and countries contribute to climate change. And carbon footprint is the best estimate we can get of the full impact our doings affect the earth. It quantifies the amount of our carbon emission. With this, knowing how to calculate your personal carbon footprint is important.

There are various standards in calculating one’s carbon footprint. There is the so-called “lifestyle assessment” and the input-output analysis. Lifestyle assessment works by adding up all the feasible emission pathways while the input-output analysis involves determining the total emissions of a particular country, dividing it by the carbon-emitting sectors and estimating the overall emissions of each sector. The input-output analysis makes sure that no emission pathway is missed out.

Calculating your carbon footprint manually is an effective way for you to understand your emissions better. You just need a lot of patience to learn how each footprint is generated. Moreover, there are also several resources online that can help you calculate your carbon footprint. Online carbon calculators are abundant across the web. To make your life simpler, you can opt to try those online calculators and easily determine your carbon emissions. However, such calculators vary in scope. So make sure that the online carbon calculator, you choose, is one that includes emissions both direct and indirect.

Avoiding Toe Prints

A toe print is a portion of a footprint. Sometimes, people are misled in their calculations because they only get a carbon toe print instead of a footprint. The idea is that, you should cover a smart scope of your carbon emissions. Not only measuring a portion, but the whole.

Say for example, running a conventional car. The carbon emitted from the car is not only the fuel combustion from the diesel or petrol.  Likewise, the carbon released as the gas was processed and transported to your nearby gasoline station is also an addition to your carbon footprint. If you do not understand this, you will end up calculating your direct emissions while neglecting the indirect ones.

Be wise in calculating your carbon footprint. And when in doubt, whether you are an individual or a business entity, you should seek help from experts who can do it right.

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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Woman leaving footprints in the beach sand

Climate change creates a loud buzz across the globe. People are talking about how extreme the weather is, how polluted the environment has become or how devastating the results of carbon emissions are. While it is true that humans contribute a large impact to the worsening climate situations, people are also the most influential key towards making this world a better place. As much as the increase in carbon emissions results from what you do, the healthy change can also start in you.

Although it is a bit difficult to determine what you can do to help the society, do not be disheartened. The devastating forces may be massive for you to work through, but there are countless simple actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprints day by day.

Home

While you are in the comfort of your home, you can start saving energy to reduce your carbon emission. You could replace your standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. A compact fluorescent bulb saves more than 2/3rds or up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. This bulb contains mercury, so make sure to choose a brand that has lower mercury than others.

Another thing, you can do to reduce your carbon footprint at home, is to mind your electronics. When you do not use your gadgets and appliances, make sure you unplug them. If you buy new ones, take time to look at the energy rating of the electronics to save you more energy in future use.

Alternative renewable energy is also a good thing to shift into. Try solar, hydro or wind power at home. Setting up your own residential solar panels and building your own turbines are excellent ways to choose green energy.

Food

The food industry is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions. You may not have control over the food processing, but you can lower your carbon footprint by buying local products in the market. These local products are not transported from far off places, so the carbon dioxide released from them is lower compared to imported ones. Take a look at the packaging as well; less packaging means less waste.

If you have a big backyard, you could use your it to grow food.  Eating food, either fruit or vegetable, which you grow at home is energy efficient. No more fuel combustion from transportation and other consequent food processing.

Travel

When you have your own car, accelerating it slowly and smoothly, as well as maintaining speed while driving will help lower your carbon emissions. If you drive a lot, it would be better to get a green car. As of now, you can consider using public transportation and go for road travel rather than air travel when you take long distance trips. But when you need to take planes, better choose a non-stop flight instead of connecting ones.

Indeed, there are many ways you can combat global warming and climate change. The road to improved life quality through energy efficiency might be hard, but a transformed lifestyle can make a big difference. Start now – lighten your carbon footprint and help save the world.

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