Pumps and compressors account for a large share of energy consumption in process industry equipment. Best practice that can help further reduce consumption by this type of equipment will be a major theme at ACHEMA 2012 on June 18th to 22nd in Frankfurt/M., Germany. A key aspect to consider in this context is the contribution that control valves and sensors can make in enhancing process stability in automated production environments.
We have now gotten used to hearing that many things have ‘intelligence’. We have intelligent pumps and controls and even smart materials. The meaning of the term ‘energy intelligence’ is far more coherent, and it takes a considerable amount of human intelligence to achieve it.
How do we identify opportunities to save energy? One approach for achieving quick results is to scrutinise and optimise individual components (pumps, valves, heat transfer media and compressors) or specific subsystems (compressed air supply, chilled water supply). A study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research shows that this is undoubtedly an important first step for many users. Fluid flow machinery such as pumps, fans and air compressors are particularly ‘energy hungry.’
It is considerably more difficult to take a holistic approach and perform optimisation at the system level. This approach however results in the largest energy savings. Users also benefit from enhanced process stability and improved product quality.
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Why Pumps Are Major Energy Consumers...
Realistic estimates (Motor Challenge Program, Hydraulic Institute) indicate that pumps consume 20 to 25 per cent of the electricity, which is produced worldwide, and the process industry accounts for a quarter of that total. An estimated 4,90,000 pumps are installed in the German chemical industry alone. The majority of all pump systems currently in operation are equipped with centrifugal pumps. The figure worldwide is estimated to be around 73 per cent and can be as high as 85 per cent to 90 per cent in specific industries (e.g., the chemical industry).
Energy Intelligence for Pumps: Engineering is the Key
Very well engineered pumps and optimal configuration of the hydraulic system appear to offer the best route to maximum energy efficiency. Ongoing maintenance can also reduce energy consumption, because wear and aging reduce the efficiency of all types of equipment. Corrosion and deposits increase flow resistance in pipe networks. Leakage in valves and fittings causes pressure losses in the system. A study, conducted by the FfE Research Center for Energy Economics, indicates that the energy efficiency of poorly maintained pumps can decrease by as much as 15 per cent.
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