Using, Saving, and Managing Energy in a Heat Treat Facility

By Jonathan Susser | October 29, 2016

Furnaces North America (FNA) is a conference held every two years that brings together the best minds in heat treating – the process of heating products with a furnace. Professionals from around the industry discuss, share, and promote current technology and trends, while attendees are end-users looking to stay up to date on the latest developments.

fna-logo

At the 2016 conference, Mike Stowe, a senior energy engineer at Advanced Energy, attended on behalf of Duke Energy. Being able to learn from other professionals in the field allows Mike, and Advanced Energy more generally, to better help Duke’s customers save energy. Mike also presented a talk titled, “Using, Saving, and Managing Energy in a Heat Treat Facility,” which discussed ways industrial customers can develop their products with the least amount of energy, or by lowering their energy intensity. Better understanding the processes and support systems involved in heat treating is essential to finding energy-efficient solutions.

Heat treating, like many industrial processes, requires a substantial amount of energy. A key aspect of heat treating is transformation, which is the change in form, appearance, or nature of raw material into a finished product. For example, consider the transformation of clay to pottery. The clay must first be formed onto a potter’s wheel, the pottery is then fired in a kiln, the glaze coating is applied, the pottery is fired once again, and voila, the beautiful piece of pottery is complete. Many transformation processes exist, including tempering, carburizing, normalizing, and case hardening in the heat treat arena.

clay

Transformation uses what is known as process energy, which is the energy consumed by the many steps throughout a transformation process. Identifying and reducing losses in this energy can improve energy efficiency. At the same time, transformation involves facility energy, or the energy used by the systems supporting a facility. These systems include compressed air, chillers and HVAC, motors, and combustion (boilers, ovens and furnaces). Compressed air is often the most inefficient facility system, but it can be the easiest to improve and offers excellent payback. Waste heat recovery is frequently available from many of these systems by making use of economizers, heat wheels, or heat exchangers. Even simple greasing and lubrication programs can improve both equipment life and energy efficiency.

process

At Advanced Energy, we seek out energy projects to help our customers better meet their needs. Saving energy is important from more than just an energy standpoint, though. It also produces numerous non-energy benefits, such as improved plant productivity, product quality and workflow, and reduced emissions. Knowing where to look for and how to find solutions for reducing energy consumption is essential for realizing these benefits.

For more information on this topic, please contact Mike Stowe at mstowe@advancedenergy.org