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ARCHIVED - Food and Drink - Process Integration Specifics

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Serge Bédard, CanmetENERGY
Linnoff March

CETC Number 2003-120 / 2003-09-12


Process integration is a very efficient approach to improving the energy efficiency of large and complex industrial facilities. Process integration refers to the application of systematic methodologies that facilitate the selection and/or modification of processing steps, and of interconnections and interactions within the process, with the goal of minimizing resource use. Process integration can be used in new designs, or in existing installations, in order to ensure that energy, water, and raw materials are used optimally. Among process integration techniques, pinch analysis is the most often used.

Product quality is paramount in all industry sectors and especially so for food and drink. Generally, there is a natural resistance to making changes to process operations that might conceivably affect product quality. Fortunately, the process integration data can be constrained to prevent project proposals that can upset product quality.

A common feature in food and drink manufacturing is the use of batch and continuous processes. The process integration procedure can simultaneously address batch, semi-continuous, and continuous unit operations, and deliver practical and feasible results. In these cases, energy savings may involve heat storage if, for example, heat sources and heat sinks are not synchronized. Further savings may be achieved by rescheduling batch operations, with spin-off improvements in yield. For continuous operations, energy savings typically involve direct heat recovery between process streams, and may encompass indirect heat recovery via existing or new utilities, such as a hot water loop.

The process integration track record shows that, for revamping projects, energy savings and expansion objectives are met at lower capital costs than when using conventional energy assessment techniques. In new plant design, the emphasis is on selection of the optimum process configuration, and cost savings can be even higher than for revamping projects. Significant energy and capital will be saved because plant layout can be configured to minimize the energy consumption at greatly reduced infrastructure costs. Process integration techniques may be applied alongside of the engineering company’s design process, with no adverse effect on the engineering schedule. Indeed, time can be saved through the early elimination of suboptimal alternatives, and the concentration of effort on the best solutions.

The application of process integration is complementary to the know-how and expertise of a good process engineering company. Common unit operations that must be given careful consideration include:

  • Evaporation, concentration, distillation
  • Drying
  • Pasteurization
  • Coking, mashing, etc.
  • Refrigeration
  • CIP (clean-in-place) systems

To learn more about CanmetENERGY's activities related to industrial systems, visit the Industrial Systems Optimization section of the website.

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