Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Heat Recovery

If you enjoy the occasional beverage from an aluminum can, there’s a decent chance the can was made by Ball Corporation, a container manufacturing giant with facilities across the world. The company’s facility in Saratoga Springs, New York, services beverage companies throughout the northeastern United States. The plant operates four production lines producing millions of aluminum cans per day.
Heat recovery opportunities have resulted in the largest amount of savings of our common projects our industrial energy management teams have implemented.  It is not the easiest type of project to implement but the amount of savings and the reduction of emissions makes this project very worthwhile.
When the topic of discussion is making ice cream, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t heat, but at Nestlé’s Ice Cream factory in Tulare, California, heat is recovered from air-cooled air compressors to heat process water. “Right out of the gate, everything is pneumatic,” explains Tom Finn, Project Engineer with Nestlé Ice Cream Division. “Air cylinders and air driven motors, the process piping valves which divert, route, stop/start, and mix process fluids, our packaging machinery including rejection, cleaning and vapor removal processes, all of these rely on compressed air.
The rise in energy prices is an unwelcome reality in today’s manufacturing and business environment. And while the rate of price increases for natural gas, heating oil and electricity may vary from year to year, the upward trajectory is clear. Energy cost reduction strategies are vital to staying competitive. Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine recently discussed heat recovery, from industrial compressed air systems, with the Compressed Air and Gas Institute’s (CAGI) Technical Director, Rick Stasyshan and with CAGI member – Werner Rauer of Kaeser Compressor. Their inputs should provide you with some insight in energy-saving technology.
When compressed air is generated, heat is inevitably produced as a by-product. Anyone looking to enhance efficiency can use this heat and increase the efficiency of compressors to about 95 percent as a result. To achieve this, there are easy-fit heat exchangers which can be fitted to existing air compressor stations. This investment often pays for itself within less than a year.  
Its simple physics that compressing air gives off heat. The heat energy is concentrated in the decreasing volume of air. To maintain proper operating temperatures, the compressor must transfer excess heat to a cooling media before the air goes out into the pipe system. As much as 90 percent of that heat can be recovered for use in your operation. If you can supplement or replace the electricity, gas or oil needed to create hot water for washrooms, or direct warm air into a workspace, warehouse, loading dock, or entryway, the savings can really add up.
Reducing energy costs and pollution emissions involves many areas within an industrial facility.  My studies have found key (or common) areas where low cost practical projects can be implemented.  Combined, these projects provide savings exceeding 10% of the annual energy spend with an average payback of less than one year.