ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY

In the scope of the Paris climate protection agreement, Germany has committed itself to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by 55 percent compared to the level of 1990. Only two things can help here: Designing the processes as energy-saving and efficiently as possible and relying on renewable energy. Which technologies do the food and beverage manufacturers need to reduce the consumption of energy in the production processes? Anuga FoodTec from 20 to 23 March 2018 in Cologne will provide the answers to this question.

Everyone is talking about the energy turnaround. At Malzers in Gelsenkirchen this principle has long since become everyday routine. For two and a half million Euro, the industrial bakery installed a gas-driven combined heat and power (CHP) plant including a twelve-cylinder engine, which drives a generator to produce energy. Since then, combined with a photovoltaic system spanning 7,000 square metres, Malzers has been generating around three quarters of the required energy consumption itself. Furthermore, the CHP plant provides heat, refrigeration and steam and is coupled with an absorption cooling system – in this way the waste heat that is not needed in the summer can be implemented to refrigerate the raw materials. The fact that the company reduces its carbon dioxide emissions by 2,000 tonnes a year demonstrates that this is not purely conceived as an economic solution, but also protects the environment.

The coupling of power and heat is one of the key technologies demonstrated at Anuga FoodTec that enables the food manufacturers to become less dependent on energy suppliers. In Germany the final energy consumption of the industry has remained at a constant level of around 60 terawatt hours a year for several years. The rising energy prices are becoming an ever-increasing cost factor, where each saved kilowatt hour counts. The average share of the energy costs in the value chain of the milk industry is around five to eight percent, in the meat processing industry it is up to 15 percent. Against this backdrop, investments in the implementation of highly efficient CHP systems are as a rule amortised within two to six years.

However, the companies only remain competitive if they succeed in integrating more photovoltaic systems or biogas plants and cogeneration units into the operational power supply system long-term. Intelligent systems take care of the coordination between the generation, distribution, storage and consumption of the decentrally produced power. The correlation between the energy turnaround and the fourth industrial revolution becomes apparent at the latest here, because the networked production in the smart factory also guarantees a higher transparency of the energy flows. This close coupling of the food production to the energy industry via intelligent power grids (smart grids) makes a contribution to the energy turnaround that is not to be underestimated – and offers the company a significant saving potential. Thanks to the intelligent network control they can flexibly react to seasonal fluctuations in the demand and avoid expensive peak loads.

Industry 4.0 is proving to be a direct pacemaker for the energy turnaround at field level. More and more sensors are implemented for the continual monitoring of ramified production plants, which in turn don’t need a battery since they send their data by radio transmission. They directly “harvest” the required energy from the environment via energy harvesting. This means processes that transform the energy available on-site from temperature gradients, solar radiation or mechanical movements into usable energy.

An example here is the low energy sensor BlueTEG of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS. It measures values such as the ambient temperature or acceleration rates and sends these to a tablet via Bluetooth. It uses the temperature difference between a source of heat and the environment to gain the electrical energy needed to power the electronics. In this way, autark, maintenance-free and wireless systems with almost unlimited stand-by times become reality. The areas of application include among others sensor networks for the monitoring of machines and plants (condition monitoring), tracking systems and sensors for building automation. The market of the energy harvesting systems is still in a very early phase, however the keyword will be present at the stands of many exhibitors from the automation section at the Cologne fair grounds.

From the field level through to the production planning – the implementation of an IT-supported energy management system according to DIN EN ISO 50001 is always the starting point for considerable savings. This enables food manufacturers to determine, document and continually improve the consumption of their plants. As scalable systems they can be integrated into the process control system at any time in the form of add-ons. Thus, in addition to the plants for the generation of energy and the sensors for monitoring the operating states, at Anuga FoodTec in Cologne the focus will also be on the corresponding software solutions. They are what initially enable the producers to sustainably improved processes, permanently increase efficiency and thus save costs as well as reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.

The next Anuga FoodTec will take place from 20 to 23 March 2018 in Cologne. The trade fair is jointly organised by Koelnmesse and the German Agricultural Society (DLG).

Further Information is available at: http://www.global-competence.net/food/