Those that have worked with industrial thermal technologies likely remember when the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technology Program was actively marketing its efforts to reduce industry’s energy consumption — and thereby reduce overall demand for energy. According to a roadmap report produced in 2001, fuel-based process heating (excluding electricity and steam generation) consumed 5.2 quads of energy annually, which equated to roughly 17 percent of total industrial energy use. Electrically powered process heating technologies and steam systems — the latter being credited with accounting for about 30 percent of the total energy used in industrial applications — further contributed to industry’s energy consumption. The Industrial Technology Program focused on helping manufacturers identify system improvement opportunities with an eye toward reducing energy demands.
Fast-forward nearly 20 years later, and though industry is still a significant consumer of energy, improvements have been made. At the same time, energy costs have been relatively low and consistent (at least over the relatively recent past). Low energy costs and slower and lower paybacks have shifted manufacturers focus from some energy-efficiency projects they may have undertaken when energy costs were higher.
Yet the focuses and resources developed by the Industrial Technologies Program — now administered by the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy arm of the DOE — remain available and valuable. There is no need to wait an economic or energy shift to examine these resources available to you.
Process Heating Systems. AMO gathers software tools, training and resources focused on optimizing the performance of process heating systems with the aim to save energy at https://www.energy.gov/eere/amo/process-heating-systems.
- Improving Process Heating System Performance: A Sourcebook for Industry, Third Edition, outlines opportunities for energy and performance improvements in process heating systems. According to DOE, it is intended to help the reader identify improvement opportunities in their own facilities. Sections focus on fuel-based systems, electric-based systems (including infrared, electron beam, microwave, radio frequency and induction) and waste heat management. The sourcebook, along with case studies, tip sheets and technical publications, can be downloaded at www.energy.gov/eere/amo/process-heating-systems.
- The Process Heating Assessment and Survey Tool (PHAST) presents methods to improve the thermal efficiency of heating equipment. This Windows-based tool helps users survey industrial process heating equipment that consumes fuel, steam or electricity, and identifies the most energy-intensive equipment. Learn more at www.energy.gov/eere/amo/articles/process-heating-assessment-and-survey-tool.
AMO also is continuing to reprogram legacy tools (like PHAST) that were written for the Windows platform into a modern environment. Dubbed MEASUR, the new tools will included updated versions of PHAST as well as DOE’s Pumping System Assessment Tool (PSAT), Fan System Assessment Tool (FSAT) and Steam System Modeler Tool (SSMT). The MEASUR software also contains more than 40 equipment and property calculators for simple energy-related calculations and analyses. These can help users identify, assess and quantify energy-saving opportunities within system using equipment such as pumps, fans, process heating, steam, motors, compressed air and lighting. Learn more at www.energy.gov/eere/amo/measur.
As AMO notes, modern manufacturing requires highly skilled workers and subject-matter experts in many areas beyond the factory floor. Industrial cybersecurity, the Industrial Internet of Things, KPI-driven manufacturing — each requires a robust energy infrastructure. Though energy efficiency may at times fall off as a primary driver for decisions, it pays off long term to keep it top of mind.