Sweetening the world through energy efficiency

Sweetening the world through energy efficiency

In energy-intensive processes such as sugar processing, using the latest technology is a sure way to reduce energy consumption and costs while maintaining overall efficiency. In Belgium, one of Südzucker’s plants has taken the step towards a more sustainable future.

Processing 21,000 tons a day

The Südzucker group is a multinational producer of sugar, starch and fruit products based in Germany. With over a hundred years of history, today they produce 3.7 million tons of sugar annually at their beet sugar factories in Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, and Moldavia.

The vast majority of beet sugar arrives at the factories over the 120 days of the beet season, which runs from October to January. “At our Longchamps production site in Belgium, 21,000 tonnes of beet are processed into sugar juice every day during this period,” explains Michel Benaets.

Not surprisingly, for these four months the production machines run 24 hours a day, requiring a lot of energy usage over a relatively short time. It is during this period that the greatest energy and cost savings are to be realised.

“Of course, we want to be sustainable”

“The initiative came from the Belgian plant to reduce costs and energy usage,” Benaets comments. “Of course, as a global company we want to be sustainable, and all our clients want to know what we do in this regard and to work with a company that has effective plans.”

The first step was to find out where the most energy was being consumed.

“We have many sources of high energy usage,” says Benaets, “for example transporting thousands of tons of beet every day requires 3000 Ton/H of water, and moving that around is energy intensive.” In fact, this transportation is the most energy-intensive part of the process. Slicing machines and pressing machines were next on the list.

Identifying energy saving possibilities

Südzucker cooperated with ABB to introduce tangible improvements in energy efficiency to their production processes at Longchamps. “When we looked at the entire chain,” continues Benaets, “we found the domains where the biggest potential energy savings existed. We identified the slicing machines as having the best savings potential. The results showed that replacing their six old 160kW asynchronous motors would lead to the best improvements.”

“We found the biggest potential energy savings”

The decision was made to replace those motors with 134kW ABB SynRM motors which have an energy efficiency rating of IE5. And, to minimize OPEX, they were paired with ACS880 drives to ensure as efficient operation as possible.

The motor exchange has resulted in energy savings of 9.14 kWh per machine or 54.84 kWh in total, equivalent a reduction of just under 120 tons in CO2 emissions. Notable economic benefits have also manifested, resulting in an overall cost reduction of 27.42% for the substation.

With such benefits readily available, other companies should seize the opportunity, Benaets says. The main requirement in this regard is to effectively communicate information about the technology and its advantages, and share its successes.

“We are very happy with our collaboration with ABB,” Benaets concludes, “and we encourage other companies to explore the available energy efficiency technology.”


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