Cutting industrial boiler energy costs

2013-03-18 - An ABB fingerprint analysis of four industrial boilers at a US chemical facility has reduced annual boiler energy costs by a staggering $237,000 a year.

By ABB Communications

For many customers, the annual energy bill for their industrial boilers runs into millions or even tens of millions of dollars. Often, sophisticated monitoring and control processes are used to run the boilers optimally, but over time the optimization hardware and software can become degraded.

To counter this process of degradation, ABB has developed Industrial Boiler Fingerprint, a fingerprint analysis that identifies where the control loops and hardware need to be refreshed or repaired. This invariably leads to significant reductions in energy bills and carbon emissions.

ABB uses the fingerprint analysis to examine the condition of hardware and controls, test the stability and operation of the boiler, perform combustion load trials, and execute dynamic step response tests.

In the fingerprint process, boiler operations are first benchmarked to define existing performance levels and establish a basis for identifying and evaluating improvement opportunities. Recommended improvements are scrutinized to estimate return on investment (ROI) and are then prioritized according to speed of payback. Subsequent actions fix the problems and sustain performance over time.

As a bonus, the analysis showed that it was safe to operate one of the boilers at higher loads, thus getting a higher return from the installed capital equipment.

The fingerprint analysis that ABB performed on four small industrial boilers at the Arkema chemical facility at Calvert City, Kentucky - a site that includes the world’s largest HFC-32 refrigerant production plant - illustrates the power and benefits of ABB’s fingerprint analysis.

Two of the boilers were installed in 1952, one in 1965 and the fourth in 1996. All four boilers produce steam at about 165 psi, but none were run at maximum load.

ABB began the fingerprint with the second boiler, as it is the one used most often and is the least efficient. This resulted in a comprehensive to-do list for the hardware, control logic and tuning. Measures taken ranged from repairing the FD intake and ID removal fans, to fine-tuning the steam to air curves, and retuning the loops to be less aggressive.

For this one boiler alone the savings in energy consumption achieved by ABB are worth around $75,000 a year to Arkema.

In all, the ABB fingerprint of all four boilers achieved total annual plant energy savings of around $237,000. As the service costs for each boiler were only about $25,000, the payback time for Arkema was very short.

ABB has applied the fingerprint analysis to other industrial boiler installations and achieved similar successful results. As well as reducing energy consumption, the procedure has the additional benefit of reducing plant greenhouse gas emissions.

France-based Arkema is a leading chemical company, with 85 production plants worldwide of which 27 are in the United States.

Click here to learn more about the results of the fingerprint analysis on the four boilers.

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