Northeast Clean Energy Application Center

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Food Processing

See example below

The food processing industry employs nearly 100,000 people at 3,800 establishments in the NY/New England region. Food Processing is the fifth largest consumer of energy in the U.S. industrial sector. Although the Food Processing sector as a whole is not among the most energy intensive of the major industrial energy users, within certain sub-sectors (industry groups and industries) energy costs represent a very sizeable portion of the total costs of production.

Today's consumer is spending more on highly processed, energy intensive products such as pre-cooked meats, prepared meals, beer and wine, dairy products, and candy. Many food processing sectors make ideal candidates for CHP. For these sectors, driving factors include:

  • Energy savings
    Combined Heat and Power applications offer an opportunity to lower costs of production and improve profitability. CHP is currently in use at numerous food processing plants in the Northeast. Many other facilities have examined or are examining CHP capital investment at their site. Thermal processing and dehydration are the most commonly used techniques for food preservation, and require significant amounts of energy. Process heating uses approximately 29% of total energy in the food industry, while process cooling and refrigeration demands about 16% of total energy outputs. Dr. Martin Okos, et al. Energy Usage in the Food Industry, October, 1998.
  • Increased power quality and reliability
    Food and beverage processors need reliable power to stay online during power grid blackouts and momentary power sags. Power outages can be expensive. For example, the U.S. Combined Heat and Power Association reports that for the chocolate processing industry, "hot chocolate is piped over long distances. If power is lost chocolate congeals within 3-5 minutes - and the plant could be down for 2 hours, or entire pipelines may have to be discarded.
  • Growing concern for food safety
    Slaughter houses, meat product processing plants, and pre-cooking facilities all have significant food safety concerns which can be addressed with thermal energy produced by on-site CHP in the forms of hot water and steam.
  • Waste disposal issues
    For cheese manufacturing facilities, breweries, and wineries, CHP may be attractive because of the potential to use an "opportunity fuel." These industries generate wastes that contain high levels of biological oxygen demand (BOD), which might not be tolerated in municipal sewers or might cause expensive sewer surcharges. Such facilities are good candidates for utilizing anaerobic digesters to treat waste and produce biogas to fuel a CHP system.

Example

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters: 280 kW CHP Application

Coffee roasting is an energy intensive process in which reliable power is critical. The coffee beans are brought to a very high temperature approaching flash point, and if power is lost during that process they can go exothermic and cause a fire. To ensure a reliable electricity supply, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters installed a CHP system in 1999 at their corporate headquarters and main processing facility in Waterbury, VT. They were particularly motivated by the possibility of power outages associated with Y2K. Then in 2003, when the larger roasting equipment was being upgraded, a new, larger CHP system was installed. This 280 kW 480 volt system uses a Waukesha engine to provide approximately 25% of the electricity and most of the heat and hot water required by the facility...  (Download Brochure: PDF)

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