Energy Efficiency in the Chemical Industry

Energy efficiency has become one ofthe key topics not only in the chemical industry. There are three main reasons for that development:

1) As mentioned in the last section energy prices rose significantly during the last ten years. In parallel with the energy prices the energy costs increased as a percentage of the production costs. Therefore there was and there is a high pressure on the industry, and especially the energy-intensive chemical industry, to work on the reduction of the specific energy consumption.

2) Secondly climate change became an ever more important issue in public discussion. The targets given by politics and public and the self-commitments of the industry led to an increased level of attention to energy efficiency and by this to additional efforts in the chemical process industry.

3) Last but not least many employees and managers of the chemical companies feel the need for responsible management of resources. They influence and define the culture and the behavior of companies. This leads to company initiatives for CO2 and energy reduction that will be described in Section 6.

To quantify energy efficiency we follow the CEFIC , the European Chemical Industry Council, which defines energy intensity as the energy input per unit of chemicals production [16]. Since 1990 this energy efficiency has increased significantly. Figure 13 shows the development since then for the European chemical and pharmaceutical industry (for EU countries).

While production has increased by 3.3% per year on an average, the absolute value of the energy consumption has remained more or less constant. That means for the energy efficiency as defined above, that it has decreased by 4.6% every year for the last 16 years or by 50% in total. This result is an impressive proof that the chemical industry has understood the need for action in the field of responsible use of natural resources.

But also in the USA energy efficiency has increased in recent decades. The American Chemical Council (ACC) states that since 1974 the business of chemistry in the USA has reduced the energy consumed per unit of output by half [17] .

Figure 13 Energy intensity in the EU chemicals industry [16].

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Figure 14 Dow's energy efficiency from 1994 until 2004 (after [18]).

Figure 14 Dow's energy efficiency from 1994 until 2004 (after [18]).

As an example of a chemical company we can look at Dow, who published [18] that in the ten years from 1994 to 2004 the energy efficiency was enhanced by 21% from 5958BTUlb-1 to 4711 BTUlb-1. The development is shown as an example in Figure 14.

Since then the energy consumption could be reduced until 2007 by another 8% to 3811 BTUlb-1 [19].

As seen in the example of Dow many companies could reduce their energy consumption in recent decades and at the same time increase their production capacity. This development is still ongoing and we will see a further enhancement of the energy efficiency in the chemical industry.

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