Tuesday 6 July 2010

Biomass to low-cost energy

New offering helps create renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Emerson Process Management is expanding its energy management portfolio with new technologies and services that help companies and municipalities convert low-cost waste and biomass into renewable energy more efficiently and reliably, with lower carbon emissions.

As regulatory agencies increase renewable fuels standards and governments consider renewable energy and carbon management legislation, Emerson’s technology and plant automation and control solutions are helping customers convert biomass or waste fuel – whether waste gases from a petroleum refinery, hydrogen from a chemical plant, biogas from potato waste at a food processing plant, or wood waste from a pulp mill – into steam and electrical power.

In the United States, for example, the industrial sector accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the energy used nationwide and 27 per cent of the country’s carbon emissions.

“Biomass-to-energy conversion is the fastest-growing segment of the energy business,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “Faced with high energy costs and environmental goals, our customers recognise they can retrofit decades-old plants to convert their own waste streams into environmentally friendly and low-cost sources of power, which is a plus to both the environment and their bottom line.”

Emerson’s new combustion optimisation technology uses Model Predictive Control (MPC) and other algorithms to determine the heat release of biomass and waste fuels. With this capability, the combustion can be optimised to the highest potential efficiency and the waste fuel can be maximised to minimise the cost of energy and reduce emissions. This provides the most affordable and environmentally friendly operation available in the industrial energy market.
“With this technology, many of our customers are operating on renewable energy up to 95 per cent of the time,” Sonnenberg said.

Seattle Steam, a district heating facility that provides heat in the form of steam to 200 buildings and hospitals in Downtown, the central business district of Seattle, USA, turned to Emerson’s new combustion optimisation technology when it decided to rely on low-cost urban wood waste to provide energy for the Downtown area.

“We have reduced our annual carbon emissions by 60 per cent since turning on the new biomass facility that uses wood instead of natural gas,” says Stan Gent, president and chief executive officer of Seattle Steam. “We are looking at upgrading the control systems at all of our existing facilities to achieve additional efficiency gains.”
Emerson’s energy solution includes biomass and waste fuel combustion optimisation technology, that provides automatic, real-time process adjustments based on changing quality and availability of alternative fuels, costs of alternate and fossil fuels, emissions, and process constraints. Emerson also provides energy monitoring and controls to spot unusual energy usage, identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency, and manage operations based on real-time energy costs.

They also takes advantage of its wireless measurement technologies in its energy management programmes to reduce the installed cost of monitoring instruments and to allow more measurements in tougher places. In fact, wireless measurements are being installed at approximately a third of the cost of traditional hardwired implementations.

Biomass currently provides more than 3 per cent of the total energy consumption in the United States, with U.S. government studies (Report) predicting biomass could supply up to 15 per cent of U.S. energy demand by 2030.

Emerson Process Management is a leader in renewable energy, working with hundreds of biomass-to-energy industrial customers, advanced biofuel companies converting cellulosic feedstocks into premium fuels, and commercial power generators converting wind, solar, and hydro power and biomass into electricity. Emerson has a dedicated staff of experienced energy consultants who assist customers with identifying opportunities, developing alternate fuel solutions, and implementing overall sustainable energy programmes.

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