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Industrial fan project cuts $30,000, but delivers more

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Process efficiency, social responsibility among West Coast Reduction's gains

With a three-part fan efficiency project, West Coast Reduction Ltd. is now saving an impressive $30,000 a year on its electricity bills.

The 50-year-old company recycles animal by-products from the meat, poultry, and fish processing industries. Cutting costs is a nice side benefit, say the folks who worked on the project. But they're more keen about other areas of value the project delivered.

Fans limit odours, keep neighbours happy

For environmental coordinator Paul Faber, the project was a key part of West Coast's commitment to social responsibility, because improved fan efficiency provides improved control over odours generated from the rendering process.

"We're located in a heavy industry zone, but a stone's throw away we're looking at an apartment building in a residential neighbourhood," he says of the company's plant based in the Port of Vancouver. "Those neighbours are right on our doorstep so we need to keep up with available technologies and not only meet compliance, but keep our neighbours happy."

Production improved, maintenance reduced

For purchasing agent Jim Foster, the value lay in improved process efficiency.

"When you can prove that you're installing something that the maintenance guy won't have to work on as often, or that will offer the production guy a more automated process that's more stable and gives a better quality product, that tends to sell these projects. That's when you become really successful, and people start coming to you and offering ideas.

"Those gains in process efficiency are one of the benefits we're getting out of working with BC Hydro."

Foster is also keen on the learning experience that comprehensive energy projects have offered. "We tend to get tidbits of learning about conservation from vendors when we've done projects in the past, but now, all the people in our plant who have had input into these projects have it front and centre that conservation is really important. It's been a good learning experience for a lot of people."

Fan efficiency project focuses on three areas

Jim Barazzol, Electrician and Paul Faber, Environmental Coordinator in front of sampling pipe for 50,000 ACFM 100 horsepower room air scrubber fan. Improved fan efficiency has saved energy & improved control of odors escaping from the plant.

Heat exchange improved, fan speeds optimized, inefficiency reduced

West Coast's fan efficiency project included three different priorities that improved heat exchange systems, optimized fan speeds and reduced needless fan effort.

The first area of focus was air-cooled heat exchangers that cool process air, and cooling towers that handle cooling water. In both areas, controls were added to ensure fan speeds were optimized.

In phase two, room air control systems were upgraded. The room air system ensures negative pressure in the building, which keeps fugitive emissions down. The controls ensure that the system is only running as fast as required based on production volumes.

The third phase, says Faber, was a "no-brainer." Fans that pull air from process equipment were over-capacity, and had been dampened by closing large butterfly valves.

"That was quite inefficient, because you're still using the full capacity of your fan motor," says Faber. "Now, we're able to open those butterfly dampers fully and then control our fan output with the speed control."

BC Hydro incentive cuts project payback to one year

Jim Barazzol and Paul Faber, in front of 3 stage room air scrubbing system. By installing variable speed drive control to their fans, West Coast has been able to shrink their environmental footprint through lower energy use and lower volume of treated air emissions.

'It allows your business to be more profitable, have a smaller environmental footprint'

The total project investment was approximately $110,000, including a project incentive from BC Hydro of $80,000. Total electricity savings are 591,000 kWh per year, or about $30,000 — bringing the project payback with incentive down to one year.

West Coast has completed other conservation projects with BC Hydro in the past, including upgrading pumps in the wastewater system and replacing v-belt drives with synchronous drives. Next, they're looking at the potential savings of a lighting retrofit.

Says Foster, "This [fan] project was like other conservation projects we've done with BC Hydro. It allowed us to learn more about how to operate our plant, and how to buy our equipment, so in the future we buy the right equipment instead of retrofitting it later. It allows your business to be more profitable and have a smaller environmental footprint too."

Says Faber, "BC Hydro is very effective in moving these investments through. You bring in a third party, you make a very simple business case for it, and a BC Hydro engineer looks at it. It's a very no-nonsense approach."