New process heating tool

A new assessment tool became available to simplify these calculations, allowing managers to evaluate these manufacturing steps and to determine if there are better, less costly methods.
By Gas Technology December 2, 2015

The PHMT Tool simplifies complex calculations on plant system efficiency, but requires collection of accurate input data. Courtesy: Gas TechnologyPerforming an energy efficiency analysis of process heating operations in a factory environment is challenging. Multiple calculations are necessary, and additional steps are needed to attach an accurate cost figure to the results. Recently a new assessment tool became available to simplify these calculations, allowing managers to evaluate these manufacturing steps and to determine if there are better, less costly methods.

Process Heating a Major Energy User

In modern manufacturing, process heating consumes a large proportion of the electric and fuel energy used. Thus, to successfully assess the overall energy efficiency of a manufacturing facility, it is essential to evaluate these operations. Because multiple processes are usually involved, calculations can become dauntingly complex. What has been needed is a practical tool for assessing each operation, then collecting the results to give an overall picture.

New Tool Simplifies Calculations

The Process Heating Modeler Tool (PHMT) was jointly developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Institute for Industrial Productivity (IIP). It is an enhancement of a tool first developed by IIP and DOE in 2010. PHMT is available online at no cost to users. It allows users to perform a complete plant or industrial campus process energy balance. The tool features ten process-specific energy calculators that allow users to quickly pinpoint areas of energy losses or process inefficiency within their systems.

Results from each process can be combined to give an accurate overall picture of energy use. The tool can also be used to create "what-if" snapshots of alternate energy sources or processes. Use of the tool does not eliminate the need for accurate input information. For example, a calculation input may be the thickness of thermal insulation on a particular vessel or oven, or the temperature or volume of process exhaust streams. Without accurate numbers here, the results will be questionable. However, these actual numbers are probably available or can be measured. Accurate inputs are essential.

Allows Owners to Manage Processes

For many manufacturing processes, energy is one of the largest components of operating costs, and these costs can often be reduced significantly by process energy analysis. PHMT makes it practical for owners to do this analysis themselves. Often the analysis will indicate opportunities for energy savings or process improvements. The same tool can be used after making the changes to verify results, for possible use in applications elsewhere. The tool allows multiple inputs including ambient temperatures, insulation thickness, and alternative energy costs. It is available online.

What is the IIP?

The Institute for Industrial Productivity, the organization that partnered with the U.S. DOE in creating the PHMT, is an independent non-profit organization which identifies its goal as "To accelerate the uptake of industrial energy efficiency practices by partnering with both industry and governments." The organization places priority on reducing energy use, while contributing to continued economic viability. Programs are aimed at major energy-consuming countries such as the United States, China and India, and on industrial operations that use significant amounts of energy.

This article originally appeared in the Gas Technology Winter 2015 issue.