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  Tutorial Part I  

 
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THERMAL PINCH ANALYSIS

OVERVIEW

 
A brief introduction to the Pinch Analysis concepts using a simple hot water tank example is presented below. This overview will describe the different steps generally involved in a study, starting from the process mass and energy balance to the final design of solutions.

 
  | Introduction - Where does Pinch Analysis stand in the Thermal Energy Efficiency Universe | 

Many factors may bring energy inefficiencies in industrial processes. Here, we summarize them by the 6 following principal components:
 

  1. The process' core design: the type of unit operations, equipment technology and reactors selected. Obviously, not all choices are equal there in terms of thermal energy requirements.

  2. The process design around the process' core: heat recovery exchangers network, piping length and diameter, layout constraints, ...

  3. The imposed operating conditions: flows, temperatures, pressures, etc.

  4. The design and selection of utilities: steam pressure levels, heat pumping, CHP (cogen), condensate collection, make-up water preheating, ....

  5. The process dynamics: control strategy and controllers tune-up, seasonal variations, fluctuations in raw materials quality, production scheduling (grade changes,... ).

  6. Plant maintenance.

Pinch Analysis is a Process / Energy integration approach suited to handle items 1 to 4 in a very cost-effective way. This means that you can move a big step ahead in a single study to minimize your energy cost and, consequently, your greenhouse gases emissions. This is the ideal tool to help the management taking strategic decisions in energy on a medium to long term basis.

Being a system approach, an interesting feature of Pinch Analysis is its capacity to examine a process as a whole in order to find global optimum solutions, not local ones, for a new design or an existing one. Also, Pinch Analysis can guide the engineer to identify the required actions to reduce at its source the energy usage by the modifications of some operating conditions, by a more appropriate integration of a given unit operation, by the recycling of some streams like used water, etc. Pinch analysis can do all this by following a conceptual path that sets energy and capital cost targets ahead of design. In other words, before we spend money to install heat exchangers and recover energy, we set targets and make sure we have found the global optimum solution.

Our vast experience in the practical application of this discipline has shown that, in a large majority of cases, Pinch Analysis will lead to the identification of many low cost projects with a very high return on investment. These findings may procure a short payback period of a few weeks to a few months to the study fee.

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Copyright 2014 Pragmathic Inc.
Updated Feb 19, 2014

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