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Industrial Energy Systems

Richard E. Putman
Richard E. Putman
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ASME Press
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Experience has shown that, at any point in time, the policy adopted by a plant for managing its industrial energy system varies with the relative price of energy, the energy resources that have been deregulated, the international political and economic climate and the energy policy currently being implemented by the national government. Thus the tools available for this management function must be capable of rapid adaptation to the set of energy resource conditions that currently apply. The rewards for a diligent pursuit of optimum operating strategies will also vary with these external factors. The energy resources can take many forms: electricity, steam, gas, fuel oil, byproduct fuel, etc. and may either be purchased or generated within the plant. Thus, tools for the analysis, optimization and control of the generation, consumption and distribution of multiple sources of energy are among those needed to perform this complex management function, taking account also of the interaction between the management of energy and its impact on the associated manufacturing process(es).

The task has grown more complicated over the years. Up until the 1970s, much of the activity focused on minimizing the fuel consumption of boilers and furnaces and maintaining adequate air/fuel ratios to prevent the formation of smog, the first having a direct economic impact on plant operating costs. It is interesting to note that, in 1916, the Hagan Corporation of Pittsburgh, PA, and the Bailey Meter Company in Cleveland, OH, developed the earliest combustion control systems and it was no coincidence that both cities were major centers of the U.S. steel industry, with a high concentration of furnaces belching smoke into the atmosphere. The maintenance of proper air/fuel ratios was also stimulated by two pollution incidents that occurred around 1953. One occured in Donora near Pittsburgh, PA and the other in the City of London. Both were the result of temperature inversions and the resulting smog killed hundreds of people. One response was the installation of combustion control equipment on all furnaces and boilers that did not already have them. Combined with other measures, such lethal smogs have not been experienced in either location since.

The economic and social benefits of combustion control technology were widely recognized after WWII and the technology was generally adopted by the utility industry, not only in the U.S. but overseas as well. Even at the end of WWII combustion control equipment specifically designed to function on mobile platforms could be found in the boiler rooms of most ocean going tankers, as well as in commercial and naval vessels.

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