Take a four-step approach to more efficient energy use

The ultimate irony for energy companies is that it takes energy to make energy. Chemical companies often make the same additives that they consume in their own manufacturing process. Even in that short of a supply chain, the oil, gas and petrochemical industries are looking for energy efficiencies every day.


The ultimate irony for energy companies is that it takes energy to make energy. Chemical companies often make the same additives that they consume in their own manufacturing process. Even in that short of a supply chain, the oil, gas and petrochemical industries are looking for energy efficiencies every day.


The issue of that efficiency was on the minds of attendees at June’s Honeywell Users Group event in Phoenix. Part of it was the $4 price of gasoline, which translated into higher costs for all energy categories. Part of it was the 114-degree heat in Arizona, where energy demand was at a peak because of the extreme temperatures.


It was also part of the seminars and presentations at the HUG event. One of the key presentation points centered on finding a way in the chemicals industry to address rising energy costs at a time when the increased energy needs require flat out production schedules to meet overwhelming demand.


“Chemical companies are seeing a peak in production. There is consistent demand. A lot of the new capacity coming online is just to meet production demands,” said Brendan Sheehan, senior marketing manager for Honeywell’s chemical group. “One of the key factors in reducing the cost of production is reducing the cost of energy. With ethylene, for example, 70% of the costs of production are energy-related.”


Addressing these issues requires a systematic approach, Sheehan noted at the HUG event. He said there are four broad areas for energy solutions:


  • Making the best use of the raw materials, both buying in quantity and analyzing how that stock is used
  • Producing energy more efficiently
  • Consuming energy more efficiently
  • Dealing with the emissions issues.

Co-generation is another major issue, especially for greenfield facilities looking to manage energy costs on the first day the doors open. Brownfield manufacturers also are taking a fresh look at energy usage.“

Advanced process control, which is primarily used for improved throughput and quality control can also be used for energy benefit,” Sheehan said. “It can yield operational improvements and energy improvements.” One Honeywell customer reduced energy costs by 5% and increased production by 8%.


“Raw material price changes surprised everyone,” said Sheehan. “Crude oil prices have doubled since October. Refiners are taking that margin hit themselves. At the same time, chemical industries and other energy intensive industries such as metals, minerals and mining, pulp and paper and petrochem are the ones most interested in energy solutions.”


Sheehan noted environmental issues are important in developing regions.


“In developing countries, they’re bringing new plants online, but without sufficient energy to meet the demands of the plant,” said Sheehan. “What developing countries are realizing is that people are looking for safer, better environments to work in.”

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