In October, I was reminded how even a moment of distraction can have long-term effects when I had a bicycling accident. It was one of those chain-reaction events about which you can never be sure you understand what happened. I’m certainly cognizant of the results: surgery on my knee and intensive rehabilitation.

Of course, possessing an engineering mindset, I’ve been compelled to analyze every phase of the accident, the treatment and my physical recovery for insights and “control” of the process. And, while I would never advocate a wholesale substitution of my judgment for that of the medical professionals’, as with any seasoned long-term process engineer at a plant, no one knows my “equipment” better than me. I am the most reliable sensor, process controller and reporter of real-time data about “Plant Linda.”

And so, as I work to get my “system” back online at 100 percent, I find myself troubleshooting the “equipment” in much the same way that Mark Crombie, a sales manager at Pittsburgh-based Chromalox Inc., advocates addressing problems with heat tracing systems. Crombie notes that a step-by-step approach and, at times, close observation of failures and faults is necessary to determine root causes and identify appropriate corrective actions. For a heat tracing system, this means paying attention to how it starts up and when and how it fails or faults. In “The Quintessential Guide: Troubleshooting Electrical Heat Trace Systems,” Crombie looks at three common problems and suggests possible causes and solutions.

But Crombie’s piece is not the only article in this issue suited to the engineer’s mindset. Each has valuable insights to offer. For example, in “7 Q&As About Using Renewable Fuels in Process Ovens,” Gordon M. Harbison, CEM, CSDP, and a senior manager for Dürr Consulting at Dürr Systems Inc., Plymouth, Mich., explains how to one manufacturer used landfill gas to power its paint curing ovens. If you’re interested in reducing your energy costs by exploring alternate energy sources -- and who isn’t? -- Harbison answers some of the most frequently asked questions about using landfill gas for process heating.

In “How to Conduct a Pumping System Survey,” an article from the Hydraulic Institute, Parsippany, N.J., and the U.S. Department of Energy, key criteria to consider when designing any pumping system, including fluid properties, end-use requirements and environmental conditions, are outlined. The stakes are high: According to the article, in the United States, more than 2.4 million pumps, which consume more than 142 billion kWh each year, are used in manufacturing processes. At an electricity cost of 5 cents per kWh, energy used for fluids transport costs more than $7.1 billion per year. Consider an effective pumping system survey the first exercise in your process rehabilitation plan to reduce energy costs.

Finally, in “Into the Zero-NOXZone,” boiler technologies that can help reduce NOXemissions are described. Steam is a primary source of energy for a range of industrial applications, yet emissions from these boilers can result in pollution. Learn about process steam boiler technology that reduces oil and gas consumption and emissions.

Linda Becker
Associate Publisher & Editor