Energy reduction

A Hertfordshire-based company has developed a drying system that could save millions of pounds in energy costs.

Elstree-based Secomak linked up with engineers at Hertfordshire University to devise the Powerstrip system, which can dry a range of products, including bottles, cans, jars, fruit, vegetable and consumer goods.

The aim of the collaboration is to achieve a big reduction in energy consumption without compromising performance.

Current drying machines are very high energy users in many industrial processes, accounting for up to 20 per cent of costs.

The Powerstrip blower drying system is equipped with sensors that can detect when a product needs to be dried.

It switches itself off – sometimes for just a few seconds – when it is not needed, leading to a reduction in energy consumption of up to 60 per cent.

Six Powerstrip machines have recently been installed by Scottish and Newcastle Brewery at its Royal Brewery in Manchester and five at the Clonmel factory of Magners Irish Cider in Tipperary.

David Dell, product development manager at Secomak, said: ‘The theory behind our machines is identical to the engineering solutions applied to the hybrid car. Supply on demand on a production line is identical to the stopping of a hybrid car engine when stationary. The car runs on petrol and electricity, while our machines run on both blower-driven air and compressed air.’

The company believes that if its energy-saving solutions were applied across drying in the manufacturing industry, it would save 3.7 million tonnes of fossil fuel per annum with corresponding reduced-carbon emissions.