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New energy-efficient compressors from Mattei will save more than 430,000kWh per annum at Petrochem Carless’s Harwich refinery, meaning that the new equipment will pay for itself in just two years.

The decision to change equipment was made after a data-logging exercise by rotary vane manufacturer Mattei revealed the potential savings.

The refinery operates continuously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the reliability of its compressed-air supply is a key consideration for the smooth running of the plant as any failure would cause costly downtime.

The supply serves a variety of requirements including instrument air, valve actuators and air-driven motors.

Prior to the data logging, Petrochem Carless was using two 90kW Mattei compressors installed 12 years previously and was backed up by service support from the manufacturer.

Andy Jones, general manager of Mattei, said: ‘In principle, the existing compressors were doing everything Petrochem Carless asked of them but, as part of a programme to reduce energy consumption in general, the customer asked us to carry out a data-logging exercise.

‘This revealed substantial potential savings and, as the existing compressors had put in 12 years of service, this was an ideal opportunity to invest in new technology.

‘The decision was made both on the basis of saving energy and also taking into consideration the need to secure the supply of compressed air to the plant in the future,’ he added.

To first determine the integrity of the air supply, the refinery commissioned an air leakage survey to be carried out prior to the data-logging exercise.

This identified minimal leakage, confirming the effectiveness of the site’s maintenance procedures, and enabled the focus to be placed on the energy savings potential of the compressors themselves.

Data logging, which is a non-intrusive process that analyses patterns and volumes of usage, is a tool that identifies potential savings.

In many cases, a data-logging exercise reveals a variable requirement, thus dictating a variable-speed option.

This was not the case at Harwich, where the logging proved that there is a consistent demand for compressed air owing to the continuous operation of the plant.

Based on this information, the machines that Mattei recommended were two Maxima 75kW compressors, which, using the figures taken from the data-logging exercise, it was estimated would save in excess of 430,000kWh per annum.

Although effectively downsizing from 90kW to 75kW machines, the replacements were shown to be capable of delivering the same volume of 32m/min of air.

This enhanced output capability is a benefit of the Maxima technology, which is able to use a six-pole motor that then runs the air end at the optimum low speed of 1,000rev/min, giving the maximum output of air from the minimum consumption of energy.

With blades designed for more than 100,000 hours of life and reduced maintenance requirements, the Maxima machines also offer maintenance cost savings.

Installed in May 2009, the new compressors were data logged as a monitoring exercise in February 2010.

Andy Lee, engineering manager from Petrochem Carless, said: ‘The exercise confirmed the estimated annual saving of more than 430,000kW/h and compressor performance has continued to deliver the reliability paramount at the Harwich operation.

‘We have also seen a reduction in our maintenance costs.

‘The added bonus is that, as well as making ongoing substantial annual energy cost savings, the compressors will have paid for themselves in two years,’ he added.

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