Pumping, compressing and blowing systems account for nearly 20% of the refinery power demand. An average refinery may own more 1000 pumps, fans, blowers and compressors with more then 100 HP or 75 kW. The actual energy requirement for fluid movements is achieved in a balance between piping design, previously mentioned, and its movement driver match. In other words, matching piping and pumping or compressing system design is essential for better energy efficiency performance. There is a huge opportunity involving specially pump selection, because it is one of the most frequently used pieces of equipment in a refinery. Pumps are energy inefficient as equipment, roughly 40% of energy input is lost in conversion, and they are often improperly sized or used. Optimization of pumping systems can have significant energy impacts.
Opportunities for energy efficiency around fluid movement begin with the proper selection and sizing of equipment. In pumping systems in particular, eliminating control valve or use of by-passes to control flow are measures that increase energy efficiency. Better control of flow may be achieved by speed variation or using pieces of equipment in parallel to meet varying demand. Controlling the pumping or compressing speed is the most efficient way to control the flow, because power consumption is lower at reduced speed. The most common method to reduce pump speed is through a variable speed drive. It allows speed adjustments over a continuous range, avoiding the need to jump from speed to speed, as with multiple speed pumps. Variable speed systems can be mechanical using hydraulic clutches, fluid couplings, adjustable belts and pulleys, or electrical using eddy current clutches, wound rotor motor controllers, and variable frequency drives where electrical frequency is varied to change the motor's rotational speed. An extra advantage for variable speed control is that it can be linked to computerized advanced process control, demanding the exactly necessary energy for each flow. Replacing old and eventually improper sized equipment by newer more energy efficient and better fitted ones is always a good option.
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