Minimalising heat losses

Increasing energy costs required the Dutch producer of sugar, Suiker Unie, to minimise the heat loss at its site in Vierverlaten, where sugar beet is processed into granulated sugar. Suiker Unie estimated an annual loss of approximately € 800,000.

The production process generates by-products of sugar such as molasses, sugar beet pulp for animal feed and betacal (lime fertiliser for agricultural purposes). The fermentation of the residual sugars in the washing water of the sugar beet produces green gas which is used internally as an energy source for sugar production.  

Lukas Rietsema, team leader process technology at Suiker Unie: “It was very important for us to have a clear view of the payback time of the various recommendations by Hertel. Our site is in business 150 days a year. We can execute all necessary activities next year, during the quiet season, and start with the problems that are easiest to solve.

Room for improvement

Suiker Unie actively searches for ways to improve the efficiency of its production processes. To this end, it started a TPM programme (Total Productive Maintenance) to improve the productivity of the company. One of TPM’s goals is to reduce energy consumption. Since 1990, the company has reduced its energy loss by an impressive 42 percent. Yet there is still room for improvement. 

SOLUTION: INFRARED CAMERAS

Lukas Rietsema is team leader process technology at Suiker Unie. “The extraction of sugar from sugar beet causes energy loss. We wanted to find out how to reduce this loss. When we discussed our problem with Hertel, they suggested using infrared cameras to find the weak spots in the installation.”

Peter Stulen is head of the Plant Integrity department at Hertel. He explains how this type of analysis works. “To obtain a reliable analysis, it is important to carefully choose the spots where the infrared cameras are placed.” All aspects of the installation were therefore considered, including the connecting piping, valves and pumps, which are well known for heat loss. 

Analysis in two steps

The Hertel team consisted of Level 2 certified thermographers with a TIPCHECK certification from the European Industrial Insulation Foundation (EiiF). In 198 different locations within the factory they identified potential heat losses in 419 parts of the installation, including three boilers, evaporation pans and cooking pans, heat exchangers, pumps and valves. 
Peter explains: “The analysis consists of two steps. First, all the cold and hot spots are identified. Then the actual surface temperatures of all items are determined through measurement with an infrared camera followed by careful quantitative evaluation of the resulting infrared images. Based on these data, we can calculate the heat loss and ultimately determine the total corresponding costs.” 

Clear view of the payback time

In the Hertel report a number of solution scenarios were presented, each with its own payback time. The calculations proved that an investment of
€ 84,000 in new insulation would save € 37,000 annually. The payback time would therefore be a little over two years.

Rietsema: “It was very important for us to have a clear view of the payback time of the various recommendations by Hertel. Our site operates 150 days a year. We can execute all necessary activities next year, during the quiet season, and start with the problems that are easiest to solve.” 

Our added value

Good analysis

To obtain a reliable analysis, it is important to carefully choose the spots where the infrared cameras are placed.

Two steps

First, all the cold and hot spots are identified. Then the actual surface temperatures are determined with an infrared camera. 

Report with solutions and with its own payback time

In the Hertel report a number of solution scenarios were presented, each with its own payback time.