Packaged CHP systems
Profit engines for industry
At budget time at industrial companies, attention is drawn to energy expenses. Think how sweet it would be to foresee a major decline in those expenses. More dollars could be dedicated to research, development, manufacturing improvements and marketing programs. That energy solution may already be available, in the form of packaged engine-powered combined heat and power (CHP).
Power + Heat = Savings
Packaged engine CHP uses proven, factory-assembled systems for reliable onsite generation of electric power. Increasing numbers of packaged natural gas engine CHP systems are now available in sizes from 80 kWe to 3 MWe. Reliable natural gas-fired reciprocating engines designed for peak efficiency at steady generation speeds offer electric generation efficiencies from 25% to 40%.
But the systems don’t stop there. They extract heat from the engine cooling process, and often from the engine exhaust as well, to heat water to levels useful for domestic hot water, process hot water, boiler feedwater preheating, or even to supply an absorption chiller for cooling. Major portions of the engine heat that would otherwise be wasted will replace water heating energy that previously was purchased.
Packaging Means Reliability and Economy
In the early years of these “cogeneration” applications, each installation was engineered individually. Components were ordered separately and then installed on site -- a slow, expensive and sometimes troublesome process. Owners had to supervise each step of the assembly. Those days are in the past.
Today’s factory packages offer engines, generators, heat extraction and system auxiliaries pre-engineered and assembled at the factory for optimum operation. Systems arrive on a single skid that need only be placed and connected with the electric service, fuel lines and chosen hot water applications. Startup is straightforward and little on-site assembly labor or testing is needed. Those tasks were already completed at the factory.
Packaged 100 kW Units
Jeff Glick from Tecogen was a recent presenter at a Technology & Market Assessment Forum (TMAF) sponsored by the Energy Solutions Center. He explained the business benefit of packaged CHP units, used singly or in groups. He provided information on Tecogen’s InVerde 100 package that is widely used in multifamily, commercial and industrial applications. Single packaged units can simultaneously generate 100 KW of electricity and hot water at 700,000 Btu/hr.
According to Glick, these packages are commonly used in multiple applications of six or more units. This modular approach assures engine operation at levels of optimum efficiency, and provides redundant sources of electricity and hot water, even while a unit is being serviced. Modularity also simplifies fitting the equipment into existing spaces and allows future expansion.
High Total System Efficiency
Tecogen’s InVerde 100 system efficiency is 27.0% on the electrical side and 55.4% on the heating side, for a total efficiency of 82.4%, based on Lower Heating Value (LHV). Glick indicates this solution can cut energy costs by 30-50%, and can reduce a facility’s carbon footprint by 50%. Units offer high power quality and can be equipped for black-start capability, Using abundant, low-cost natural gas also reduces our dependence on imported fuels.
Tecogen spokesperson Melinda Furse observes that in the past CHP was usually prescribed for a site by an engineering or energy firm, but that practice is changing. “Today we see more solicitations from end users – building owners and building managers – than we ever have in the past. We have found that offering a single point of accountability for engineering, installation and maintenance has been an invaluable asset to furthering the adoption of CHP.”
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.