TIPCHECK at Saint-Gobain PAM
Reducing the environmental footprint of Saint-Gobain factories
Like all manufacturing industries, the operations of the Saint-Gobain group are relatively energy-intensive. Hence the fundamental importance of thermal insulation to optimise energy consumption.
When thermal insulation is applied to industrial equipment, not only the energy consumption per unit of output is reduced, but also the corresponding greenhouse gas emissions.
Learn more about sustainable insulation in Industry.
As part of the Saint-Gobain group's sustainability roadmap, Saint-Gobain PAM has decided to reduce its own environmental impact and make its industry more sustainable by focusing on thermal insulation with TIPCHECK:
TIPCHECK is an energy audit program for industrial facilities that aims to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions through insulation.
The objective of this TIPCHECK energy audit was to determine the energy losses of the two existing heat treatment furnaces of the Saint-Gobain PAM plant in Santander (Spain).
This audit included the material inlet area, the side walls, the doors and shutters, the ceiling and the hot air ducts, as well as the heat exchanger. All these areas have been audited in order to identify the energy losses for each of them and to calculate the savings that could be made.
Before starting TIPCHECK audit, it was first necessary to understand the process. Based on this information, the audit was then conducted by Saint-Gobain ISOVER certified TIPCHECK engineers.
Heat losses in the furnaces
2 furnaces used for the heat treatment of pipes were analysed as part of this TIPCHECK audit:
- a furnace for small diameter pipes
- a furnace for medium diameter pipes
The pipes are routed through the different zones of the furnace by a carrier chain, at variable speed according to their diameter. As part of their heat treatment process, the pipes must reach a certain temperature in order to eliminate remnants of cementite and pearlite.
Measurements with thermal cameras were taken to identify hot spots that could be optimised by insulation.
It turned out that the existing insulation is generally quite sufficient and in good condition, but that there were nevertheless several uninsulated areas (including the doors) which could be improved.
Inlet and Outlet of the furnaces
The inlet and outlet areas of both furnaces proved to be particularly prone to heat loss, for the following two reasons:
- Heat loss by radiation
- An overpressure inside the furnace which causes the heat inside the oven to escape through this area.
Radiant heat loss was reduced by installing curtains covering as much of the area as possible. Thus, two rows of curtains were installed in staggered rows.
Walls, roof and furnace doors
The study of the surfaces of the walls, ceilings and doors of the ovens showed that the walls were well insulated, without significant energy losses.
Doors or hatches could, on the other hand, be made more airtight.
In the roof area in particular, surface temperatures of up to 114°C have been observed. The insulation in this area could be improved to reduce heat loss and save energy.
Heat recovery circuit
In the heat recovery circuit formed by the hot gas extraction duct, heat recovery system and hot combustion air duct, high surface temperatures of up to 135°C were observed.
In the heat exchanger, mainly in the exhaust gas inlet area, temperatures measured reached up to 275ºC in the gas inlet area and up to 200ºC in the exhaust gas outlet area.
Various uninsulated areas were detected, and energy losses in this area were evaluated in order to propose an insulation solution.
Transforming energy loss into energy saving
As a conclusion of this TIPCHECK audit, the following annual savings potentials offered by better technical insulation could be highlighted:
- Investment costs: €77,081
- Payback time: 11 months
The upgrades were carried out in December 2021, and the furnaces were ready for operation again in January 2022.
Although it is still too early to measure the real savings, the gas consumption in the furnaces immediately decreased, and the thermal radiation at the entrance was considerably reduced, thus improving the comfort of the workers nearby.
TIPCHECK audit for Saint-Gobain PAM