A holistic approach to energy efficiency assessment in plastic processing
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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Significant increases in industry energy efficiency are crucial for the transformation of the world's energy systems. Many production sites offer high energy savings capabilities, and if these are accompanied by short periods of economic amortization, companies should be willing to act. This case study provides a novel and extended energy assessment for plastics processing plants including primary energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy costs. The research distinguishes between the standard form of separate individual energy assessments and provides a more innovative holistic approach taking all relevant energy flows within the production system into account. Dynamic simulation offers a quick and effective way to predict the results of the possible energy saving measures highlighted in this analysis. The paper presents validated energy consumption simulations based on realistic processing conditions for two injection molding factories in different climatic zones. The results show that combining a number of separate energy saving measures can reduce the primary energy demand by around 26% for a German plant under temperate climate conditions and 20% for a Western Australian plant under Mediterranean conditions. However, when the separate energy saving measures are holistically combined the reduction in energy use significantly increases to 41% and 43% respectively. This holistic energy strategy involves incorporating better cogeneration and waste heat recovery options. For small and medium sized companies in particular major energy infrastructure investments may often be considered too expensive without examining the extended benefits from a holistic energy assessment perspective. In contrast, a holistic framework, like the one suggested in this paper could provide a number of new options for increasing energy efficiency that individually might normally not be accepted under conventional economic rate of return analysis.
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