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Tag Archive: Biofuels Production

  1. How shell and tube heat exchangers benefit the agriculture industry

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    Agriculture is an ever-important industry in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this sector and others related to it contributed $835 billion to the nation’s economy in 2014. Farms alone contributed $177.2 billion.

    The U.S. is home to more than 300 million people, according to the Census Bureau. For the average household, 12.6 percent of their monthly budget is dedicated to food. But agriculture is more than just our nation’s produce, meat and dairy. Agriculture also lends a hand to adjacent industries like textiles, forestry, food services and drinking places, among many others. In 2014, the agriculture industry offered 17.3 million jobs, accounting for about 9.3 percent of all employment.

    Beneficial research and development

    Though this industry holds great importance to the nation, there are many obstacles it faces. Margaret M. Zeigler, the executive director of Global Harvest Initiative explained in an article for The Hill that there are numerous challenges to the industry, including:

    • Persistent drought in agriculture-focused states like California
    • Health- and nutrition-related issues
    • Diseases that can affect livestock, poultry and crops
    • Fewer people opting to study agricultural sciences
    “Shell and tube heat exchangers ensure agricultural products are safe.”

    However, she also pointed out increased research and development can lead to a more productive industry that is able to overcome these obstacles. Zeigler noted that it was research and development efforts that grew the agricultural industry’s productivity to the point it is now. From individual farmers seeking better ways to be more productive to large-scale efforts to find solutions that can accommodate a wide range of people in agriculture, research and development has been key in pushing the industry further and making it as productive as possible.

    Shell and tube heat exchangers are critical to the ways the agriculture industry ensures its many goods are produced safely and quickly. They are heavily relied upon in the dairy industry, as well as the food, beverage and biodiesel industries.

    Dairy, food and beverages

    Generally, milks, cheeses, yogurts and other dairy products need to be pasteurized before they are available for purchase.

    Raw milk has a reputation for spreading disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause an outbreak of disease than its pasteurized counterpart.

    Like dairy products, juices and ciders need to be pasteurized to ensure they are free of harmful bacteria and safe for consumption. Again, these foods are at risk of carrying bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness. To address this risk, the Food and Drug Administration published a rule in 2001 that required businesses to create and implement Juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems. These systems follow specific rules about how to pasteurize various types of juices and purees made from fruits and vegetables.

    Pasteurization, for any of these products, entails heating up the product to a high enough temperature that will kill off any harmful bacteria. For juices and purees, this temperature is between 160 and 180 degrees, depending on how long the pasteurization process lasts, according to Pennsylvania State University. The quicker the process, the higher the temperature needs to be. For instance, if a processor decides to heat the juice to 160 degrees, it would take at least six seconds for pasteurization, but only 0.3 seconds at 180 degrees.

    Dairy products take much longer to pasteurize. According to Milk Facts, a batch of milk is usually heated to 145 degrees for 30 minutes, though depending on the dairy product and the length of time of pasteurization, the temperature varies.

    Biofuels

    Beyond producing food and beverages, the agriculture industry is also key in creating biofuels to use as alternative fuel options. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, biofuels are primarily made of either biodiesel or ethanol.

    “Shell and tube heat exchangers are used in the distillation of biofuels.”

    Ethanol is made in a fermentation process using starches and sugars. However, industry professionals are working to find ways to use cellulose and hemicellulose in its production. Most plant matter is made of these fibrous materials. Biodiesel is made of a combination of methanol and a fat, like cooking grease or vegetable oil. Biodiesel is sometimes used to reduce vehicle emissions.

    Shell and tube heat exchangers can be used in the distillation of these biofuels. According to Biodiesel Magazine, biofuels can be distilled to remove high sulfur content or to change the color of the product.

    Research and development brought the agriculture industry these advancements and will bring many more. For information about how a shell and tube heat exchanger can better your business, contact the experts at Enerquip today.

  2. Oil and gas industry to drive heat exchanger market in coming years

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    The oil and gas industry has been advancing the heat exchanger market in various capacities, according to several reports recently published.

    MarketsandMarkets explains that heat exchangers are an integral part of the petrochemical and oil and gas industry. The chemical industry is the most influential driver of heat exchanger business.

    Get cracking

    The global market for oil and gas equipment is expected to continue to grow to be worth $35.8 billion by the year 2022, according to Transparency Market Research.

    Oil and gas equipment can be categorized in two parts: rotating and static equipment. Rotating equipment is comprised of valves, pumps and turbines, while static equipment includes valves, furnaces, boilers and heat exchangers.

    “Cracking is the process of breaking the hydrocarbons into smaller pieces.”

    Heat exchangers play an important role in processing oil and gas. They are used in the refining process in cracking units as well as in the liquefaction of natural gas. Cracking is the process of breaking the hydrocarbons that compose crude oil into smaller pieces, according to Chemguide.

    Cracking takes place after the first round of distillation. Then, lubrication and heavy gas oils go through a cracking process. After cracking, a second round of distillation separates the pieces into groups. TechNavio says that heat exchangers come into play to separate oil from any water that is produced during the process.

    The BBC explains that cracking is a thermal decomposition reaction, which means heat is used to break apart the hydrocarbons. Once the hydrocarbons are in smaller, more applicable pieces, they can be used to make fuels and polymers.

    Still distilling

    A report by the American Chemical Society explains that heat exchangers are also used in the diabatic distillation process. This process occurs when heat is transferred through a reboiler as well as inside the distillation column.

    Part of the process involves pushing water through a series of trays to cool off the oil. Another portion circulates steam from the reboilers through a series of trays as well. Each tray has a heat exchanger. Introducing heat exchangers to the process has made it faster and more efficient, because they allow the reboiler to reach a higher temperature faster. Heat exchangers also help the condensers to cool faster.

    Heating up

    According to TechNavio, the oil and gas industry is also boosting the global waste heat recovery market. It is expected to grow 7.6 percent by 2019. Waste heat recovery is primarily done through the use of heat exchangers and other equipment such as turbines and industrial heating boilers.

    “Between 20 and 50 percent of industrial energy output is wasted.”

    A report from the World Economic Forum said up to half of industrial energy input is wasted. The way to utilize this wasted energy is through waste heat recovery. A U.S. Department of Industry report stated the converted heat can usually be used for generating electricity, heating and absorption cooling. Heat exchangers in this process are typically most useful for preheating air before it enters a furnace system. This takes some of the stress away from the furnace, allowing it to use less fuel and energy to heat the air itself.

    The World Economic Forum reported governments and industries around the world begin to make environmentally friendly changes, and many have focused on striking a balance between three concepts: energy security, energy affordability and environmental sustainability. Large industries, such as oil and gas, have especially been looking into ways to achieve an ideal energy triangle.

    According to the Department of Industry, low-temperature heat recovery, which is identified as being between 100 and 400 degrees, can use shell and tube heat exchangers to condense water vapor in the discharged gases.

    In a report, Research and Markets explains that government regulations on greenhouse gas emissions have inspired the use of heat exchangers and other heat recovery equipment. Reusing wasted heat not only cuts down on emissions, but also reduces the amount of fuel needed to run oil and gas facilities. The report predicts that continued regulations on how environmentally friendly facilities need to be will keep driving the need for heat exchangers.

  3. Sewage provides energy through processing

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    Many nations are investing in new technology to turn sewage waste into usable energy. Japan has recently revised its Sewerage Law to respond to the growing consciousness of energy-saving and recycling methods, The Japan News reported.

    Japan’s sewage system covers roughly 80 percent of the land area where most people live, through approximately 279 miles of pipelines. The Japanese Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism Ministry said there’s certainly no lack of sewage in the country and that the issue is persistent.

    For that specific reason, the nation’s leaders have implemented new technology to use sewage as a form of renewable energy. Through the new law, many energy experts believe the country will have even more reason to move toward renewable energy options with the variety of sewage treatment equipment available. In fact, there is a current system in place in a terrace building that uses heat-exchanger equipment to generate energy.

    How the sewage treatment works

    Through a massive heat pump, sewage is pulled into a processing center and given a heat treatment via shell and tube heat exchangers. Once this is completed, the energy produced from the process can be reallocated to heat or cool the 32-story building, the Tokyo Sewage Bureau explained, according to The Japan News.

    “Sewage renewable energy systems help cities when power surges occur on the grid.”

    While this process is energy-efficient and actually generates new power, many other facilities around the world tend to burn sewage sludge to get rid of it, the Capital New York reported. In Albany, New York, city officials installed an $8.6 million power generator to turn sewage at the wastewater plant into harnessed energy.

    Rich Lyons, executive director of the North Wastewater Treatment Plant located in Menands, New York, said the systems saves taxpayers roughly $400,000 a year and can supply approximately 75 percent of the plant’s energy through the disposal process, the source reported.

    “It virtually is power from the people,” said Lyons. “Sewage sludge is a renewable energy. It’s always available.”

    John Rhodes, president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said new energy systems like this one help cities in critical times when power surges occur on the grid. Events like Hurricane Sandy still linger for those on the East Coast, and having additional power in a time of need could be truly helpful.

    The amount of sewage could significantly help generate power and provide energy to homes across the world.

  4. Preserving ethanol equipment with faster cleanups

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    Ethanol processing plants have to ensure their equipment can withstand months of running product through shell and tube heat exchangers. This process builds up dirt and grime on the equipment, which has to be cleaned periodically. According to Ethanol Producer Magazine, facilities have to prepare for cleanings in advance to ensure downtime for the process is limited.

    Matt Werzyn, maintenance manager for Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Elkhorn Valley Ethanol LLC, explained that ethanol processing facilities have to make sure they schedule downtime for the cleaning process, the source reported. The plant managers have to follow through with the deep cleanse, otherwise the facilities will see downtime from grime and dirt build up.

    The cleaning process must be quick and simple. If there are too many steps, the plant could be shut down for multiple days for repairs and equipment maintenance. In addition, certain metals and alloys tend to corrode over time, Engineer’s Edge reported. Finally, some of the chemicals and gases that are used with heat exchangers in ethanol processing plants can damage the metal.

    That’s why it’s essential to invest in stainless steel shell and tube heat exchangers. According to the source, stainless steel is much easier to clean and can withstand multiple cleanings.

    Regular steel is typically used in manufacturing plants, but it has a somewhat weak passivity, which leads to rusting and corrosion. However, stainless steel contains additional alloy elements that increase corrosion resistance and provide more strength over time. This can provide a quicker return on investment for processing facilities with heat exchangers that have to be replaced frequently.

    Fouled equipment slows plants down

    Werzyn added that once equipment becomes fouled or dirtier, there are other consequences for plant operation, Ethanol Producer Magazine reported.

    “As we get closer to shut down, there is a definite performance decrease and an increase in the required energies needed to run the process,” said Werzyn. “If duct lines are not cleaned over a long period of time, duct fires can result, which can be very expensive, if not destructive, if they occur.”

    Equipment needs regular cleaning to last and perform required duties at its highest level. Werzyn said keeping equipment continuously clean could help save a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, the source stated.

    Need a stainless heat exchanger solution? Reach out to an Enerquip Sales Engineer today.