Mechanical Engineering Series
More and more food manufacturers are developing energy management and resource conservation programs, focusing on water and heat as the two resources that offer the greatest opportunity for significant savings in the long run.
Conservation – Water is the most important, and most wasted, resource in a food processing plant. It’s also one of the easiest resources to conserve. Most water loss occurs during the sanitation process. By installing flow restrictions, such as high-pressure, low-volume nozzles on spray washers, a plant can significantly reduce the amount of water used and lost during wash downs.
Purification – Installing water softeners or filtration systems is one of the easiest, most cost-effective solutions to purify water and reduce energy usage. In addition, the more you treat the water, the less makeup water required for most processes. Cleaner water also helps to minimize wastewater and the expense of treatment at municipal facilities.
Reuse – Steam is used to process most functions within a food plant. As a result, capturing and reusing this valuable resource can lead to significant cost savings. Low pressure waste steam from boilers can be captured and reused to power a number of processes within the plant. Water from many functions within the plant can also be captured, treated and reused. For more information, read our previous post on wastewater treatment and reuse.
Recovery – There are many waste heat sources within a plant from which useful heat can be recovered and reused. For example, waste heat from compressors can be captured and used to pre-heat make up water for the boilers.
Auditing your facility on a regular basis is the most important step you can take in effectively managing your resources. An energy audit can spot leaking water hoses, leaking pipes where compressed air may be escaping, and many other small fixes that offer huge paybacks.