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Week of 12 Dec 2016: Easy Energy Money

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These two ideas have been around for a very long time, but I am amazed at how many people don't use them, not just in replacement scenarios, but in new installations. On top of that, the electronics and controls necessary to make these work get better and better all the time, thus compelling their application whenever possible.

The first one I want to mention is regenerative drives. The number one application is winder unwind stands. Not only will this application help your winder build better rolls, it gives back a little electricity at the same time. The new ones are simply phenomenal and trouble-free. Two other places to consider regenerative drives: crane hoists and truck dump hydraulics. Crane hoists usually control load lowering via brakes. Brakes mean wasted energy. Hydraulic truck dumps usually lower through a restrictive control valve. Why not a regenerative drive that will reabsorb all that energy?

The other application is VFD (variable frequency drives) on pumps. A VFD on a pump makes so much economic sense when compared to a fixed speed motor and a control valve. At one time, these VFDs were too expensive, but no more. In any new variable flow pumping application, you should use VFDs-- no economic study required. Or, perhaps you must do a study once, but that should be the end of it. Both you and your management should think VFDs from then on.


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What I like to see in pumping situations, especially stock prep departments, is an arrangement that not only uses VFDs, but considers elevation and twists and turns as well. If I can build a configuration with initial pumping to an elevated tank, install the rest of my process downstream, lower and in a straight line, I can minimize pumping head losses and friction losses due to elbows. Such a system is inherently economical to operate from an energy cost standpoint. If you are in a high cost area for energy, the gains are even greater.

Beyond these two ideas, let me mention another great energy saving idea. This is going to sound like an infomercial, but I can't help it. Airmaster Aerators, a faithful advertiser here at Paperitalo Publications, builds an aerator that beats anything I have ever seen. It is simple, economical to operate and superior in performance. On top of that, if you are reaching the limits of electrical capacity in your lagoon infrastructure, these units, because they deliver higher performance at lower horsepower, will save on capacity upgrades in your electrical lines, switchgear and transformers that serve your lagoon system. Airmaster has had at least one engineer, albeit one without much experience, reject them out of hand because he did not believe the energy-to-performance claims and would not even check them out because he thought the claims were so preposterous. Check them out for yourself and see what you think about them.


Join Jim Thompson on the 2nd Annual Papermakers Mission Trip to Guatemala, 22 - 29 July 17. Build houses, talk about the pulp and paper industry. For more information, email with "Guatemala" in the subject line.


Energy savings have come a long way in my forty-six years in industry. From fuels to insulation to heat capture to smart uses of electricity, we have made tremendous strides. Yet, every time I turn around, it seems like someone is pointing out yet another energy source we have not optimized.

Energy is still a land of opportunity. Do you have any experience with the ideas I have mentioned this week? If so, please take our quiz located here.

For safety this week, it stands to reason that the more energy users we can eliminate, the less chance of injury around motors, pumps and so forth there will be.

Be safe and we will talk next week.


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