Smart energy initiative to help customers optimize fuel use, reduce emissions

New Industrial Energy Group within Emerson Process Management deploys True BTU technology to help customers reduce energy costs


New instrumentation installed on burners at Tata Steel’s Port Townsend facility improves the efficiency and reliability of boiler operations.Emerson Process Management has announced its smart energy initiative, a global program designed to combine its industrial energy expertise with advanced energy management technologies to enable customers to leverage more renewable fuels, lower energy costs, and reduce emissions. The company has focused on an estimated $2 billion market that is poised for strong growth as refineries, manufacturers, and other industrial customers face increased pressure to adopt lower-cost fuels. With energy responsible for 30% or more of a facility’s overall operating costs – combined with higher prices for fossil fuels and new global emissions mandates – industrial customers are increasingly looking to waste fuels, biomass, and other renewable sources as a solution to these challenges. 

Emerson’s new industrial energy group will focus on modernizing and improving the performance of powerhouses and other onsite utilities that provide steam and electricity to power industrial operations, while also improving how manufacturing consumes energy. This holistic approach aims at supplying the greatest efficiency in energy production, plus reduced waste and inefficiencies where energy is used. Emerson says its technologies and expertise provide a turn-key energy optimization program to help refiners, chemical producers, and other manufacturers significantly reduce energy costs and emissions. 

“With industrial manufacturers consuming an estimated 50% of the world’s energy, combined with rising fossil fuel prices and global mandates for reduced emissions, our customers need more than incremental efficiencies in energy management,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “With our Smart Energy Initiative, Emerson is introducing a fundamentally new platform that can change energy economics globally.”

New patent-pending innovation

The company says the heart of its integrated technology platform is its True BTU technology, a patent-pending innovation for calculating the actual BTU values of fuel sources, which makes reliable energy production predictable and repeatable.

“Our True BTU combustion control platform reinvents the current model of combustion management, which has been around since the 1920s and is still in practice today,” said Chip Rennie, director of industrial energy for Emerson. “This brings about nothing short of a reinvention of combustion models, which will make the prevalent use of low-cost fuels like biomass achievable and sustainable.”

Emerson’s proprietary software suite, combined with field control technologies, enables a powerhouse to use the most available and affordable renewable or waste fuels interchangeably. These might include wood waste, food byproducts, animal waste, or manufacturing byproducts like petcoke or off-gases, that are inexpensive but which burn and deliver energy at variable and unpredictable rates. The new approach allows a facility to burn them as available to create steam without sacrificing efficiency.

Meeting global emissions mandates

Modernizing industrial powerhouses for greater sustainability not only reduces energy costs but also helps companies reduce emissions and meet global regulatory mandates. The European Renewable Energy Directive 20/20/20 seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and increase the share of renewable fuels in the European Union’s energy mix by 20% by the year 2020. China, the world’s largest energy consumer, aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40% to 45% by 2020 and to use non-fossil fuels for about 15% of its energy. According to the International Energy Outlook 2010 report, renewable energy is expected to grow by 1.8% annually to represent 8% of total energy use in the industrial sector. 

“We have seen tremendous growth for certain projects, such as biomass-to-energy conversion, where we have many customers running on renewable fuels 95% of the time,” Sonnenberg added. “Given our track record and energy management leadership, we anticipate 25% to 35% growth in industrial energy projects over the next five years.”

Recent applications of Emerson’s industrial energy solutions include increased steam production from scrap wood at a commercial power facility, more stable operation of a university’s utility boilers, and more stable and efficient consumption of byproduct gases at a steel mill. “Emerson’s work at our Port Talbot (U.K.) steel mill is helping us make better use of indigenous fuels, such as blast furnace gas and coke oven gas, that are byproducts of our manufacturing process,” said Andrew Rees, manager of a boiler upgrade project for Tata Steel. “The improved controls are part of a comprehensive energy management project that’s expected to reduce powerhouse energy consumption by 3% to 5% and help Tata Steel achieve its vision of becoming energy self-sufficient.” 

Launching the team

Emerson’s new industrial energy group is headed by Rennie, a 25-plus-year powerhouse operations expert. Emerson technologies that add real-time intelligent capabilities to the energy-generating process are Emerson’s SmartProcess Boiler and SmartProcess Energy Management software. These comprehensive solutions are designed to overhaul dated equipment and methodologies used by the majority of industrial powerhouses, as well as provide a new approach to greenfield sites. Emerson’s SmartProcess Boiler technology delivers real-time combustion control to address the inconsistent nature of renewable and waste fuel sources, automating and simplifying management of sudden changes in BTU content or the availability of those fuels.

SmartProcess Energy Management is another sophisticated software application that runs in real-time, closed-loop control to balance steam systems, manage electrical demand swings and upsets, identify opportunities to buy and sell power, improve efficiency, and run an entire industrial utility at the lowest cost automatically.

“Improving energy efficiency at a customer site by just 1% to 2% can translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, and substituting a waste fuel for a purchased fuel can save millions of dollars annually,” Rennie said. “Opportunities like these are now too big to ignore. We look forward to

Edited by Peter Welander,

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