Current Research

HVAC

The aim of this project is to investigate ways of reducing the cost of providing appropriate working environments for product, people and machines in Irish manufacturing plants (HVAC systems and clean rooms). Maintaining appropriate working conditions is costly. According to the SEAI Energy Agreements HVAS Special Working Group Report 2007, HVAC energy costs can be as high as 80% of a site’s total energy budget and, among the 14 companies which participated in the SEAI study, €15 million a year of savings were identified.

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Compressed Air

Compressed air is one of the most expensive sources of energy used in manufacturing accounting for the cost of generating useable energy at point of use. According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, approximately 10% of all electrical energy used in industry is used for compressing air. However in some industry sectors this figure is significantly greater and for some companies compressed air consumption can account for as much as 60% of plant energy costs.

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Real-time energy use modelling and optimisation

Industry energy tends to have a high baseline, driven by setting equipment to meet the maximum demand of process needs. For instance chilled water has a setpoint of minus 20deg C even though it is only required for a small percentage of time and for specific plant. Compressed air has a setpoint of 10 bar although 95% of equipment requires only 4 bar. Modulation of equipment to demand requirements from end user through distribution to on site utility generation. Much plant, even when it is idle, continues to use from 80 to 100% of its working energy requirement in order to be available to meet worse case scenarios. If this idle energy use can be reduced there is the potential for significant energy saving.

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Low Grade Heat

In the majority of manufacturing plants, low grade heat is generated and discarded because of the difficulty in using it. This heat can be in gas or vapour but is more often in water. The heat sources are defined as low grade because the difference between their temperature and ambient temperature can be as low as 10 degC but is more often in the range 30 to 50 degC. Typical sources of such heat include chilling circuits, compressors, cooling towers and CIP systems.

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