Upgrades at J.R. Simplot Plant Save Energy, Reduce Costs, and Improve Steam System Performance
September 30, 2005
At its food processing plant in Caldwell, Idaho, the J.R. Simplot Company is saving $299,000 in energy costs, 52,000 MMBtu of natural gas, and 526,000 kWh of electricity annually because of a project to improve the efficiency of the plant's steam system. Additional Simplot facilities stand to benefit, as well, along with other plants participating in the Western U.S. Food Processing Efficiency Initiative.
As part of a corporate energy efficiency program, Simplot commissioned Steam Engineering, Inc., of Vancouver, Washington, to analyze the steam systems at its facilities about five years ago. The analysts found that the efficiency of the steam system at the Caldwell food processing plant could be improved—and costs could be reduced—by installing new burners and controls and adding a flue gas oxygen trim system.
Then, in 2002, DOE BestPractices launched the Steam System Assessment Tool (SSAT). Bill Moir, who is now a Qualified Steam Tool Specialist at Steam Engineering, used the SSAT at the Caldwell plant in a follow-up to the first analysis.
The SSAT indicated that the plant could reduce natural gas usage by more than 25,000 MMBtu annually by operating the boilers consistently at a flue gas oxygen level of 3%. This could be done by upgrading inefficient burners and controls and installing flue gas oxygen trim systems on the boilers, as indicated in the earlier analysis. In addition, only two boilers would be needed to meet the plant's steam load, rather than three.
Simplot management decided to implement the recommendations. Now, along with the resulting energy cost savings, annual maintenance costs are lower by $30,000. Also, production is much more reliable, reducing costly downtime. At a total cost of $373,000, the project's simple payback is less than 14 months.
Because of this successful project, SSAT evaluations are being conducted at all Simplot production facilities. Energy efficiency measures already implemented at eight other facilities are saving at least 176,000 MMBtu annually.
The J.R. Simplot Company is a major food and agribusiness corporation based in Boise, Idaho. With more than 12,000 employees in the United States, Canada, China, Mexico, and Australia, Simplot produces food, fertilizer, turf, and horticultural products and conducts other agribusiness enterprises.