June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Energy Conversion and Conservation
15.102.1 - 15.102.16
A Systems Approach to Energy Conservation: Challenging Industrial and Educational Paradigms Abstract
Rising costs of fuel and a greater sense of environmental responsibility have increased interest in energy efficiency. Great emphasis has been placed on the use of alternative sources of energy, though conservation efforts that rely on existing technologies offer the greatest opportunity for immediate benefits. This is particularly true in traditional, energy intensive manufacturing plants that rely on mature technologies. In such plants, where certain requisite criteria are met, opportunities for simple energy savings are substantial. This paper presents a case study of a food manufacturing plant with characteristics common to many manufacturing facilities. Through an integrated design process, this facility was able to reduce energy consumption considerably. Based on comparison with industry-standard implementations of similar equipment and processes, the new facility reduced energy consumption by more than 70% for some aspects of the production operation. Building on the lessons learned from this design exercise, it is proposed that similar energy savings are possible in a wide variety of industries for which certain criteria are met. Criteria for successful implementation are proposed, including recommendations for changes to both industrial and educational paradigms that perpetuate sub- optimal system designs and implementations. Possible changes to existing curricular structures are explored, and recommendations for an integrated, multidisciplinary curriculum are proposed.
One of the most significant challenges facing humankind today is that of energy. Engineers and scientists of every stripe have been challenged to address the world's energy needs. Though there is a great deal of excitement and public attention focused on alternative energies, most of that research represents high risk with the potential of high reward. Over the long term, breakthrough technologies that free us from our reliance on fossil fuels are a must. However, the benefits of alternative energies generally have an implementation horizon that ranges from years to decades and rely on technologies that have yet to be made technologically or economically viable.
In the near-term, conservation efforts must be developed concurrently. Such efforts offer great opportunity for immediate reduction of the energy problem. The magnitude of benefits that can be achieved from conservation can be observed in the consumer market. Hybrid vehicles and compact fluorescent lighting use only a fraction of the energy required by their traditional counterparts. It is increasingly apparent that energy savings of comparable magnitudes can be achieved in traditional industry.
Researchers at Youngstown State University, working with industry, have identified that surprising reductions in energy consumption are achievable through the application of
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