Trading silicon for carbon: how to reduce energy usage through automation
The average plant can conservatively achieve 15% energy savings through this technology
Energy is the largest variable operating cost after raw
materials for most of the process industries and its efficient
use is key to sustaining profitable operation. Natural
gas is the most common incremental fossil fuel and its
general increase in price and in price volatility over the past
few years are well known with most experts projecting these trends to continue
in the future. Table 1 gives typical specific energy usage
(Btu/t product) for common processes1 and the value
of a 10% energy reduction in terms of increased financial
operating margin at an energy price of $7 per million Btu
(mBtu). This value is a significant portion of the total
operating margin for most of these processes.
In addition to the direct energy price, it seems likely that
the US will eventually adopt some regulations regarding
greenhouse-gas emissions. If the regulations in other countries
are a guide, these may take the form of a "cap and trade" on
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