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Author's profile photo John Harrison

Energy Efficiency Part III – Energy in Product & Process Design

Once when products were being designed only the end product mattered, the cost of materials was analyzed, standard overhead was applied, and if the product could be made profitably it was.  With today’s environment, energy usages both in the end product and in the manufacturing of the product are becoming more important.


Today, a lot of companies are designing their product to be low energy users and advertise this fact as part of the product differentiation, (e.g. Energy Star products). Just as the product is designed to be low energy consumers, the process of manufacturing the product should be design for low energy usage.


When designing a new product, improved energy efficiency processes should be considered.  While it is recognized that utilizing these new processes might not be possible with existing equipment, with the amount of new facilities being build, it is a significant missed opportunity not to use the latest technology. Do not just replicate the existing facilities and processes; use the opportunity to design energy efficiencies into the complete process.


For example: New Processes – Ethanol Production


Carnegie Mellon University Chemical Engineers have devised a new process that can improve the efficiency of ethanol production. Carnegie Mellon researchers have used advanced process design methods combined with mathematical optimization techniques to reduce the operating costs of corn-based bio-ethanol plants by more than 60 percent.


“This new design reduces the manufacturing cost for producing ethanol by 11 percent, from $1.61 a gallon to $1.43 a gallon,” said Chemical Engineering Professor Ignacio E. Grossmann, who completed the research with graduate students Ramkumar Karuppiah, Andreas Peschel and Mariano Martin. “This research also is an important step in making the production of ethanol more energy efficient and economical.”

    • Source: Carnegie Mellon University – Press Release January 26, 2007


For example: New Processes – Amine Scrubbing Technology


As part of Dow Chemical Company’s efforts to address energy efficiency & climate change through technology, Dow Chemical has entered into a joint development & commercialization agreement with Alstom for advanced amine scrubbing technology.

    • Source: Carbon capture Journal March / April 2008 Issue 2


For example: New Equipment – Distillation Column Efficiency

An investigation in design improvements in distillation columns was carried out by Young Han Kim of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Dong-A University, 840 Hadan-dong, Saha-gu, Pusan 604-714, Republic of Korea. The design of the new system has an extra column called postfractionator and is attached to the main column of an original fully thermally coupled distillation column The outcome of performance investigation indicates that a 29% energy saving is yielded with fractionation process and a 7% saving with gas concentration process is possible over the original fully thermally coupled distillation column.


Existing Processes – Find the best current processes


An examination or energy audit should be undertaken to identify the most energy efficient processes for your existing products. These then become the default way of manufacturing the product. Existing equipment & systems should be operating at their peak and the process. With information on the energy consumption based on the products, energy usage can now be considered when deciding on the production lines / plants the product can be produced on /in

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      "A recent claim from a Harvard fellow that conducting two Google searches releases as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as that required to produce the electricity to boil a kettle...." -

      A reminder that when designing business processes too we can think about the cost of getting our data.  More so at a technical level (performance tuned data selection and processing) we can make a difference here.  Even though you might have the fastest hardware and suffer no speed problems you could always try to be energy efficient and use less carbon!