Classic approaches for energy optimization mostly focus on improving the efficiency of individual devices. However, experience shows that an optimal linking of energy streams in the overall process result mostly in a greater increase in efficiency than the often costly improvement of individual efficiencies through purely technical measures.
Process integration is the most common, generic term for such a system-oriented, integral method. The pinch analysis in turn is an important tool for process integration: It helps to find the optimal plant design and thus optimizes the energy use and profitability. Generally, the potential for reducing the primary energy consumption through pinch analysis is up to 40 percent.
In many industrial processes, the heating and cooling of material flows causes a significant proportion of the energy costs. However, these process steps offer a great often unrecognized potential for energy savings. In-process heat recovery is particularly central for increasing both energy efficiency and profitability: Process waste heat is converted into useful heat!
Simply put, pinch-analysis answers the following questions:
- What is the minimum energy requirement when the energy streams are optimally combined?
- What is the economic optimum for investment costs and energy costs?
- What measures are required to reach the optimal state?
- What energy supply is ideal for the overall system (boiler, heat pump, refrigeration plant, etc.)?
- How will the energy supply be integrated into the overall system?