Archive | July


6:00 am
July 1, 2009
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Utilities Manager: Big Money Talks: Power Plant Efficiency


William C. Livoti

I am sure almost everybody has received some notification from their local utility regarding energy conservation. Many of the larger utilities offer incentive programs for premium efficient motors, energy efficient windows, etc. I believe we all understand the purpose and the necessity of the power generator promoting energy efficiency on the demand side. On the other hand, have you ever wondered how efficient a power plant truly is? Let’s examine a typical fossil fuel power plant.

The average fossil plant is roughly 33% efficient (at design point). What does this mean? Simply stated only about a third of the fuel (oil, gas, coal) entering the plant actually generates electricity. Even less-around 30%-is actually transmitted to the consumer. So, where does the remaining 70% go?

Thirty-three percent of that remaining 70% goes out the stack; 33% is used to cool the process and ultimately winds up back in the cooling source (lake, river or ocean) and the other 4% is lost in transmission/distribution. This is the same level of efficiency that has existed for the last 60+ years. To get a better understanding of how the power industry determines efficiency, we can break it down by the numbers.

Power plants live and die by the Heat Rate number expressed in Btu (British Thermal Units). Heat Rate is defined as a ratio between fuel energy and generated electricity. The smaller the Heat Rate number, the less fuel is needed to generate one unit of electricity. Although there are several factors that figure into Heat Rate, in the interest of keeping this article brief, let’s break it down to the basics:

  • Thermal Efficiency:
    This is the inverse value of the Heat Rate of the power plant.
  • Load Factor:
    For a power plant, Load Factor is the ratio between Average Load and Peak Load.
  • Economic Efficiency:
    This is the ratio between production costs, including fuel, labor, materials and services, and energy output from the power plant for a period of time.
  • Operational Efficiency:
    This is the ratio of the total electricity produced by the plant during a period of time compared to the total potential electricity that could have been produced if the plant operated at 100% in the period.
  • Capacity Factor:
    For a power plant, this is the ratio between Average Load and Rated Load for a period of time.

The utility calculates your rate in the following manner:


The power company assumes the Heat Rate as a fixed cost. This is not the case, as the plant efficiency can be improved dramatically by simply improving process control. Why would one believe power generation technology hasn’t changed over the last 60 years? Europe has improved the efficiency of its fossil plants to roughly 40 to 45%. What are we waiting for?

The bottom line is the resistance to change and the paralyzing fear associated with change. That being said, how long can we—as a country—operate in such an inefficient manner? At the end of the day, we all pay the price. UM

The Engineering Toolbox, Peter Garforth of Garforth International, LLC

Bill Livoti is a fluid power and power industry engineer with Baldor Electric Company. He also is vice chair of the Pump Systems Matter (PSM) initiative. Telephone: (864) 281-2118

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6:00 am
July 1, 2009
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Utilities Manager: Energy Showcase

Energy-Saving Motors

baldor_0709Baldor’s Super-E Motors are designed to conserve energy over extended time periods. Payback can occur in less than a year depending on motor size. The right combination of these motors and adjustable-speed drives can yield energy-cost savings up to 50%, according to the company. Baldor Save+ software can compare operating costs, summarize annual savings and calculate payback time based on individual operation. Premium Super-E motors are available in Totally Enclosed Fan-Cooled and Open Drip-Proof construction. All three-phase motors are Inverter Ready per NEMA Standard MG1, Part, meaning the motors in 230 and 460 volts meet NEMA’s corona inception voltage requirements and can withstand peak voltages of up to 1600 volts. Premium efficiency motors also are available in single-phase designs.

Baldor Electric Co.
Ft. Smith, AR

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vacon_0709AC Drives

Motors controlled by AC drives enable users to control motor speed, which can afford various energy-saving benefits. Fans and pumps are the most common energy-saving applications for AC drives, with savings typically 20-50%. When a fan is driven by a fixed-speed motor, for example, airflow can be higher than needed. Airflow can be regulated by using a damper to restrict flow, but it is more efficient to regulate the airflow by regulating the speed of the motor. AC drives also reduce start-up current, which allows for use of smaller fuses and supply connections, and reduces peak loads on the electrical network. In addition to energy-savings, AC drives allow for smoother overall operation, acceleration control, use of different operating speed for each process and the ability to compensate for process variables.

Vacon, Inc.
Chambersburg, PA

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Cylinder/Valve Units for Pneumatics

bosch_0709Of the many ways in which compressed air systems can lose energy, one is the use of centralized systems, which are cumbersome and wasteful due to the need for long lines. Small, decentralized units at the site of the application are more efficient. The concentration of pneumatic functions prevents pressure losses through long lines from the control cabinet to the pneumatic drive. By using cylinder/valve units, hose connections can almost completely be spared, providing an average energy-saving potential of 35%, according to the company. Additional advantages include simple installation and maintenance, faster response times and higher cycle frequencies.

Bosch Rexroth Corp.
Lexington, KY

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Gas-Fired Water Heaters

armstrong_intl_0709Armstrong Flo-Direct® Complete Thermal Exchange Gas-Fired Water Heaters can deliver fuel savings as high as 60% when compared with steam/water heating systems, according to the company. These units produce potable hot water instantaneously, meaning no fuel consumed for warm-up or idle time. No energy is lost through steam conversion or within a heat exchanger. Virtually all fuel energy is transferred to the water. Use of Armstrong Flo-Direct Complete Thermal Exchange Gas-Fired Water Heaters can help companies achieve Energy Conservation Measure (ECM) and Reduced Carbon Footprint objectives. The company’s line of heaters includes a range of high efficiency, compact, all-stainless steel models suitable for many industrial applications.

Armstrong International
Three Rivers, MI

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Clamp-On Flow Meters

dynasomics_0709TFX Ultra ultrasonic flow meters clamp onto the outside of pipes and do not contact internal liquid. Two versions are available: a stand-alone flow meter and an energy flow meter that’s used in conjunction with dual clamp-on RTDs. The energy flow meter measures energy usage in BTU or tons and is ideal for retrofit, chilled-water and other HVAC applications. The TFX Ultra units’ clamp-on design reduces installation time and material costs because there is no need to shut down a process for installation or maintenance. A TFX Ultra can be installed and fully operational in minutes. With no moving parts, there is no mechanical wear; no repair kits or replacement parts are ever needed. The units feature bi-directional flow measurement, a totalizer featuring forward, reverse and net total, and Modbus communications.

Racine, WI

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Software Identifies Savings Opportunities

Eaton’s Power Xpert® Reporting software helps facility, information technology and energy managers benchmark existing energy usage and power consumption in their power distribution systems, allowing energy and cost-saving opportunities to be identified and implemented. The software can aggregate data from multiple databases to provide a complete enterprise-level view of power consumption and energy usage. When combined with the company’s Power Xpert Software or Foreseer, Power Xpert Reporting is designed to enable energy-cost allocation, compare power consumption, monitor branch circuits and summarize overall power quality. It can also play a key role in helping users adopt green strategies and qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Eaton Electrical Group
Raleigh, NC

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Integrated Automation System

ABB’s IndustrialIT Extended Automation System 800xA integrates process and power systems on one unified platform, offering advantages such as improved energy efficiency, process reliability and overall productivity. By integrating power and process systems on the common 800xA platform, users can optimize the design and performance of their electrical and automation systems, and see additional benefits in reduced maintenance, engineering and overall lifecycle costs. Typical savings can result in a 20% reduction in capital and operating expenses. According to ABB, the 800xA system has been sold to more than 5000 new and existing ABB customers in virtually every industry, from process industries and mining to electric and water utilities.

The ABB Group
Norwalk, CT

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6:00 am
July 1, 2009
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The Green Edge

Energy-Efficient Hydraulic Fluid

shell_tellus_eeShell Lubricants has added a new lubricant to its Shell Tellus hydraulic oil range that can help increase the energy efficiency of hydraulic systems. Based on customer-reported and Shell-managed evaluations, the Shell Tellus EE has been shown to help companies reduce the energy consumption of their hydraulic machinery by an average of 8%, while also providing equipment protection and the capability of extending oil maintenance intervals.

Shell Tellus EE is the company’s first synthetic hydraulic fluid that has been specifically designed to help improve the energy efficiency of the machinery in which it is used. The fluid contains a unique and patented additive technology, and has undergone extensive laboratory tests and field trials that have demonstrated its ability to help improve a machine’s energy efficiency. With hydraulics being at the core of many production processes, Shell Tellus EE has the potential to contribute to the goal of reducing an organization’s energy costs.

“Energy costs will continue to represent a significant part of an industrial organization’s operating overhead for the foreseeable future,” said Dennis Woodley, Shell Hydraulics Product Application Specialist. “As a result, investing in a hydraulic lubricant designed to both help improve the energy efficiency of the machinery in which it is used and reduce the maintenance costs makes good sense from a commercial perspective.”

Shell Lubricants
Houston, TX

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Single-Source Services For Mixers

philadelphia_logoIt’s a matter of sustainability. Although capital budgets aren’t what they used to be, plant operators are still expected to deliver peak performance and maximum output while lowering energy and operational costs. That’s where the Philadelphia Mixing Solutions “Service All Mixers (SAM)” program comes in. SAM lets operators do more with less by helping them leverage their investment in existing equipment, solve their most complex mixing challenges and increase the overall financial health of their plants. According to Philadelphia Mixing Solutions, its SAM offering is the only service that allows plant operators to work with a single company for scheduled mixer upkeep, planned upgrades or emergency repairs, regardless of who manufactured the mixer. Among other things, within the scope of the program, complete evaluations of mixer conditions, such as age, service history, oil analysis, etc., are conducted. Based on results, a detailed report of recommended actions to improve the performance and extend the life of the equipment is generated. Additionally, three-year warranties are provided for all repair work. True root-cause failure analyses—a veritable “CSI” for mixer performance—identify mechanical failures in the context of process conditions to help customers eliminate downtime and promote higher levels of performance
and repeat.

Philadelphia Mixing Solutions
Palmyra, PA

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Lower Operating Costs In Drying & Blow-Off Operations

spraying_systemsA new White Paper published by Spraying Systems Co. takes an in-depth look at how to reduce or eliminate compressed air use in drying and blow-off applications and achieve dramatic savings. Among other things, How to Reduce Compressed Air Consumption in Drying and Blow-Off Applications reviews various air nozzle options that use compressed air, provides application guidelines and estimates the savings each option offers over open pipe. The White Paper is available at no cost upon request from the company or at its Website

Spraying Systems Co.
Wheaton, IL

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GE Plans $100M R&D Facility

GE recently announced plans to build a $100 million research center in Michigan, about 25 miles from Detroit. The new Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center will include a research and development component that will be part of GE’s Global Research network (which is headquartered in Niskayuna, NY). The state of Michigan is providing $60 million in incentives over 12 years for the project. The center is set to open later this year and is expected to employ more than 1100 people within the next few years. They’ll work there to help develop new manufacturing technologies for GE’s renewable energy, aircraft engine, gas turbine and other products. Work on smart grid technologies, software development, networking and program management are some of the other fields to be targeted. “Michigan is well positioned to be a leader in advanced manufacturing and development of green technologies,” said U.S. Senator Carl Levin. “This facility will take advantage of our state’s strengths and keep us on the forefront of these critical emerging industries.”

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EGSA Establishes Green Committee

The Electrical Generating Systems Association (EGSA) has announced the formation of its new Green Committee. Michael Pope of Süd-Chemie will serve as the inaugural committee chairperson. Initially, the Committee will gather, monitor, communicate and distribute Green business opportunity information to the EGSA membership. Additionally, it will teach best practices in conducting Green Conferences as well as instruct techniques to move to a Green strategy. Any EGSA members are welcome to join the Green Committee It will hold its first meeting at the association’s Fall Conference.

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6:00 am
July 1, 2009
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Solution Spotlight: Controlling Pesky Critters Humanely


(Left to right) Bird-X representative Jeremy Garrity and one of his company’s menacing, life-sized 3D-Coyote decoys, with Maintenance Technology’s Jane Alexander and Tom Madding, at a recent Grainger event in Schaumburg, IL.

Bird-X has been producing humane pest and bird deterrents for 45 years. Established in 1964, its first product was an ultrasonic repellent engineered to affect pest birds using audio signals undetectable to human ears. Since that time, the company has continued to develop unique and effective products and now offers a full arsenal of bird repelling devices and other pest and critter deterrents. In fact, according to company literature, today Bird-X offers the most comprehensive line of eco-friendly (i.e. “green”), environmentally safe, non-toxic and non-harmful pest and bird-control products available. They range from state-of-the-art laser technology to ultrasonic/sonic bird control, goose and pigeon repellents, bird spikes, bird netting, animal sound repellers and taste aversion gels and solutions.


Bird XPeller

Bird-X deterrents are the result of decades of scientific study and field testing. These products fall into four basic categories:

  • Physical Barriers: Bird Spikes, Sticky Gels, Bird Netting

    Gator Guard
  • Sound Repellers: Bird XPeller, Critter Blaster, Goose Buster
  • Ultrasonic Sound Deterrents: QuadBlaster QB 4, Ultrason X
  • Taste Aversions: Bird Repellent Sprays, Bird Repellent Solutions
  • birdx_terror-eyes

    Terror Eyes

    Visual Deterrents: Bird BLazer, Terror Eyes, 3D Coyote

Bird-X notes that while each of its products is an effective deterrent on its own, using them in combination (i.e. a sound device plus a visual device plus a physical roost inhibitor) can yield significantly greater results than any one product alone. This is especially true in situations where pest birds are particularly stubborn, where they have nested in one place for extended periods, or where an area provides food, warmth or shelter. In spite of your best efforts, does this sound like your plant or facility? If so, a combination of Bird-X products will work synergistically to create an aurally, visually and physically undesirable environment for bird and animal pests. MT

Bird-X, Inc.
Chicago, IL

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6:00 am
July 1, 2009
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Communications: The CMMS Setup In A Maintenance Partnership

ken_bannister_thumbMaintaining an interactive collaborative partnership with inter- and intra-departmental groups and outside groups is essential if a maintenance department is to be successful in delivering asset reliability and availability at a level suitable to achieve production throughput and quality targets. To achieve this, a maintenance department must understand the difference between “what it manages” and “what it controls.”
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