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Dec 21

Combined Heat and Power for the Food and Beverage Industries

By: Patti Dinneen


In the United States dairy and beverage sector, the opportunities to save money, increase efficiency and decrease environmental impact are abundant when a combined heat and power (CHP) system is employed.  A CHP system (sometimes called Cogeneration) produces electrical and thermal energy onsite to exactly satisfy the energy needs of a manufacturing facility, campus, water treatment plant, or other large consumer of electrical and thermal power.  Food and beverage plants pose a special challenge to select the right suite of equipment.  Kinsley Energy Systems has met this challenge by coupling Opra Turbine’s OP16 with a large group of equipment options to tailor customized energy solutions for unique plant demands. 

Food and beverage operations often comprise a steady electrical load with a large – yet highly variable – thermal demand.  In some plants, night-time cleaning operations (called Clean-in-Place, or  CIP) can require 7 to 10 times more thermal energy than the processing equipment needs during the day.  A two-megawatt cheese plant, for example, uses 50,000 lbs/hr of steam for cleaning at night but needs only 5,000-8,000lbs/hr during the day.  On the other hand, evaporating milk or producing whey protein powder demands far more heat for production, but not always in the form of steam.  The key is to thoroughly understand plant energy needs in order to select equipment that will deliver thermal energy in the right form for the lowest capital and operating cost.

Using heat from the turbine exhaust, a heat recovery steam generator equipped with supplemental duct burners can satisfy peak steam demand for CIP and turn down to lower load for process operation.  Even after shutting down duct burners, the generator may still produce more heat than the process can efficiently utilize. CHP becomes uniquely ideal for this type of application when instead of being deemed as waste, the excess steam can be supplied to an absorption chiller to supplement building cooling or refrigeration systems.  Greater thermal efficiency can also be achieved by using dampers to divert turbine exhaust directly to chillers or process dryers.  The oil-free exhaust from the OP16 can be employed directly in any process that would be otherwise heated by natural gas burners. 

Finally, to further reduce operating cost, an anaerobic digester can be added to convert organic solids in the process waste stream to useable energy.  The OP16 can be equipped with a dual-fuel system that maximizes the use of biogas, supplementing with natural gas to maintain generator output.  Digesting the food waste also lowers sewage bills by minimizing the amount of organic material discharged from the plant, thus reducing the burden on downstream waste water treatment systems.  The block diagram below illustrates many of the ways a cogeneration system can be employed to maximize the efficiency, sustainability, and profitability of food and beverage facilities.

Kinsley Power Systems | Combined Heat and Power

However great the energy challenge, Kinsley Energy Systems and their partners can walk you through the entire project, from initial feasibility assessments through investment grade audit, equipment selection, permitting and interconnect agreements, design, construction, commissioning, and long-term maintenance and operating services.  Contact us to schedule a free lunch and learn and discover how CHP can solve your power challenges.

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