A Plant-Wide Assessment at Solutia Inc. Targets More Than Thirty Ways to Conserve Resources, Increase Productivity, and Reduce Operating Costs
July 15, 2005
A recent plant-wide energy assessment at the Solutia Inc. chemical plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, had an ambitious goal: to find effective ways to reduce the plant's use of steam, electricity, compressed air, and water while increasing productivity. That goal was not out of reach, however; in fact, the assessment team identified at least 31 ways to conserve resources, reduce operating costs, and streamline Solutia's day-to-day operations.
Solutia, which manufactures polymers and other chemicals, was formed in 1997 from one of Monsanto's chemical divisions. Its energy management team conducted the assessment and included utility and process experts and engineers, scientists, estimators, accountants, and consultants. Here's what they found:
- Potential annual cost savings of nearly $3.3 million that could result from an investment of about $6.3 million in improvements
- Ways to achieve long-term cost savings, such as improving the efficiency of motors and steam systems
- Ways to obtain immediate benefits, such as steam trap and lighting surveys and improvements
- Estimated annual electricity savings of at least 9.5 million kWh and natural gas savings of more than 338,000 MMBtu.
Solutia's energy assessment team used the company's Steam, Electricity, Cooling Utility Reduction Exercise (SECURE) method to analyze both the process and utility sides of plant operations. SECURE takes an integrated approach to this analysis, rather than looking at the plant as a collection of individual processes.
For production processes, the assessment team collected data on steam, electricity, water, and wastewater usage and costs. They also compiled data on the energy used by individual equipment. Then, they analyzed this information to identify primary energy users and their savings potential.
Their 31 final recommendations include several that involve installing variable-frequency drives (VFDs) on pumps, fans, and motors. The VFDs alone could save the plant more than $550,000 per year.