Good practice

US surfactant-maker

US surfactant-maker
© vkilikov, image #105216262, 2017, source:
Chemical and process engineering
Annual saving:
Payback time:
3 Year(s)
Resource savings: Energy:
Savings of some 30 % on its baseline energy cost
Associated cost savings: Energy:
Premises and operation areas:
Production building
Size of company:
Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:

Look below the surface for savings

  • Operating costs can be reduced in obvious and less obvious ways
  • The key is to know where to look

A US company producing surfactant was looking at ways to reduce its operating costs. It decided to map energy consumption during production process, to identify any potential for improvement. This proved to be the right move.

Surfactant is a substance or compund designed to reduce the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved. Superfactant-making is an energy intensive process, using steam-heat inputs. Using a heat-value-add analysis, the company realised it was wasting 90 % of the steam-heat inputs: only 10 % of what they used was actually themodynamically required.

Key results

Thanks to the energy analysis, some 20 measures were implemented to improve efficiency during operations. One effective measure was to implement a new software algorithm to control the company’s heating and cooling control loop. This alone was able to reduce steam needs by 5 %.

Overall, the manufacturer managed to cut its baseline energy costs by 30 %, and the investment paid for itself within three years.


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