Kinergetics has extensive experience improving the economic and environmental performance of food and dairy facilities across the United States. Our experience ranges from building lighting, heating and cooling to steam systems, heat recovery system design and engineering, to optimization of evaporators.
Kinergetics founder Tom Tucker served for over two years as a Lead Process Energy Engineer supporting Wisconsin Focus on Energy Program efforts to improve process energy efficiency in the Wisconsin food and dairy industry. The results of some of this work can be found at Wisconsin Focus on Energy – Industrial Sector
Please contact us if you would like additional information.
Using Reverse Osmosis to Preconcentrate Whey
Reverse osmosis (RO) is recognized as a cost effective means to concentrate whey and can be used to pre-concentrate whey before final concentration in an evaporator. At a cheese and whey processing facility, RO was retrofitted to a 5-effect TVR evaporator in the mid 1990’s to increase capacity. However, at the time the RO discharge was set to only 8-percent, far less than is typically possible. Management was interested in optimizing the current RO system or upgrading to reduce overall cost of whey concentration.
To answer questions concerning economic and technical feasibility, a detailed engineering evaluation of the RO system and multi-effect TVR evaporator was performed. The evaluation included computer simulation, power metering and field data collection to build confidence in the results. The major findings were:
- The capacity of the existing RO unit was limited by the booster pump power and staging, but the final concentration was increased 3/4-percent, resulting in reduced evaporator steam use.
- Energy requirements for concentration were found to be 24-Btu/lb (heat equivalent) for the RO unit and 131-Btu/lb for the 5-effect TVR evaporator. This provided the basis for further consideration of upgrading the RO system based on the facility capital plan.
- The multi-nozzle TVR was operating at less than design efficiency, most likely because evaporator requirements had changed over the years due to increased production and use of RO
Whey Pasteurizer Improvement
At a large cheese and whey processing facility, an opportunity was found to improve the “regen” section of a large plate and frame heat exchanger on a whey pasteurizer. At the same time, the hot water temperature requirement was lowered to prevent product “burn on.” This project was identified by during routine equipment maintenance. A completely new exchanger was specified that cost approximately $10,000 more, but provided a simple return for the entire unit in less than 2.5 years, with an annual cost savings of approximately $24,000. This savings does account for reducing lost production time as a result of minimizing “burn-on.”
Avoided Cost-Increased Refrigeration Load
Kinergetics was asked by a Maryland based engineering and design firm to identify cost reduction opportunities in conjunction with a major process modification. One concern raised was that the existing ammonia refrigeration system would be undersized for the expected increase in refrigeration load and management was considering the addition of a fifth 100-hp ammonia compressor.
A detailed assessment revealed that there was sufficient refrigeration capacity available and that the suction pressure could be reduced to gain additional capacity and reduce operating cost at the same time.
As a result of Kinergetics involvement, the facility saved over $30,000 in system upgrades and $3,000 per year in operating costs with no out-of-pocket expense-the simple payback was immediate.
Boiler Upgrade Cost justification and Steam System Assessment
At an east coast facility of an internationally known food and dairy processor, production had been decreased so that the primary boiler was much larger than necessary. As a result, down sizing the boiler to better match demand was being considered. The boiler operator had extensive experience but needed third party verification because his annual energy budget would be reduced by the estimated savings.
Kinergetics was asked to provide a detailed assessment, which revealed that boiler replacement could not be justified on a standalone basis. However, there were significant opportunities identified in production areas that could not be implemented with the existing boiler. As a result, the facility submitted a request for boiler replacement and concurrent implementation of the recommended measures to reduce annual fuel cost by approximately 20-percent.
Multi-effect evaporation systems can use significant amounts of energy. Kinergetics has experience determining the cost to operate evaporation systems and with evaluating changes to reduce operating cost including reverse osmosis, vacuum system improvement and thermal and mechanical vapor recompression. Please contact us for more information.
Process vacuum systems can offer significant cost reduction opportunity even without equipment change. During a recent assessment at a dairy facility in the southern US, the vacuum system on a scraped surface evaporator was targeted for a reduction in steam use. Kinergetics provided the necessary vacuum testing equipment, conducted testing and worked with facility operations to make changes that reduced the cost of system operation by $25,000 per year. At the same time, load was removed from the cooling towers, freeing capacity to meet other needs.
Modifying Startup and Shutdown Procedures
During a process and steam system assessment a New York food processor, uncommonly frequent failures of heating coils were reported. Investigation revealed that personnel were not allowing sufficient warm up time for a steam to water process heater. This was causing water hammer related tube and gasket failures. Kinergetics recommended new start up procedures, saving an estimated $25,000 per year on coil replacement cost alone. This does not include any gains from reducing process down time.
Avoided Cost-Replacement of Older Variable Frequency Drive
At a large cheese and whey processing facility, a variable frequency drive (VFD) was being used to control a 700-hp vapor recompression fan on a multi-effect evaporator. The system had been in operation for more than 15 years and facility staff believed that newer, more efficient technology would justify replacement of VFD. Synchronized metering of the VFD indicated that it was performing well and that replacement on the basis of efficiency would provide no cost savings at all.
While installation of new technology is often justifiable, this relatively simple assessment saved the facility over $50,000 in estimated drive replacement costs.
Avoided Cost-Repair of Failed Dryer Heat Recovery Coil
During the course of a facility assessment at a food ingredient manufacturer, replacement of a failed heat recovery coil was identified as a potential project. The coil was one of four installed on a “runaround loop” used for preheating process inlet air with hot process exhaust. Due to age, one of the coils had developed leaks was in need of replacement.
Assessment indicated that replacement of the failed coil would not have favorable economics. The estimated savings was only about $1,500 per year, providing a simple return of almost 20 years.
while repair of the failed coil was not favorable with the current configuration, other opportunities were suggested to help justify coil replacement. Kinergetics involvement saved the company the time and expense related to replacement of a failed component that would have done almost noting to improve competitiveness.
The Kinergetics team will assist you with improving the financial and environmental performance of your business. If you have specific questions or are seeking additional information, we would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.