General Aluminum Company Hosts Process Heating In-Plant Training to Deal with Natural Gas Shortage

By Sachin Nimbalkar on Nov 09, 2015

In October, General Aluminum and the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Plants program hosted a four day In-Plant Training (INPLT) event at a Conneaut Plant in Ohio. The INPLT focused on the plant’s natural gas consumption as the Conneaut area is experiencing a natural gas shortage. The goal was to identify energy efficiency opportunities with short payback periods to achieve energy reductions at the facility.

Approximately fifteen individuals participated in the INPLT including attendees from General Aluminum’s Fremont, Huntington, and Wapakoneta facilities as well as two participants from Charter Steel Company. The INPLT consisted of a three-day process heating assessment/training followed by a day-long training on energy management. The training schedule was packed!

And the result?

The participants identified significant potential energy consumption reduction opportunities at the Conneaut facility. The major opportunities identified in the plant are related to the flue gas heat losses. A large percentage (more than 50%) of the heat supplied to melting and heat treat furnaces is going through the exhaust stack – this is wasted heat that can be reduced.

“DOE in-plant trainings are a great mechanism to teach plants how to conduct energy assessments, how to use diagnostic tools, and identify easy to implement energy efficiency opportunities,” said Gary Applegate, Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at General Aluminum’s Wapakoneta plant.

    So what’s next?

    General Aluminum is looking into buying process heating diagnostic tools and building General Aluminum’s own energy assessment team so that in the future the company will have internal expertise to conduct energy assessments at various plants across the country.

    “Being able to use the diagnostic equipment to see how our furnaces behave was an interesting experience. Everyone in our group shared their wealth of knowledge, experience, and made valuable recommendations on how we can improve our furnaces, " said Tim Boothby, Industrial Engineer at the Conneaut plant.

    Learn more about Better Plants INPLTS

    INPLTS are system-specific workshops led by Better Plants experts that train participants on how to identify, implement, and replicate energy-saving projects. Better Plant partners host an on-site, three-day training at one of their facilities, and invite others to attend. The training traditionally focuses around a specific technology topic (compressed air, steam, fans, etc.).