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BASF's Three Pillars of Energy Efficiency

April 10, 2009
BASF's energy-efficiency strategy integrates infrastructure, process, energy and waste management.

The German word "verbund" means "linked or integrated to the maximum degree," according to chemicals manufacturer BASF Corp. For BASF, Verbund is a key component of an energy-efficiency strategy that integrates infrastructure, process, energy and waste management.

Verbund is part of the company's "three pillars" for increasing energy efficiency, which also includes combined cycle gas turbine power plants and energy-efficient processes, ARC Advisory Group reported after its February Manufacturing Strategies and Best Practices for Sustainable Manufacturing forum in Orlando.

BASF operates six Verbund sites, the largest of which is located in Ludwigshafen, Germany. At its Verbund sites, production plants, energy and waste flows, logistics and site infrastructure are all integrated. For instance, at Ludwigshafen a network of more than 200 production plants are connected by 1,242 miles of pipelines that receive raw materials and energy, creating a more efficient means of transportation.

BASF's new cogeneration power plant supplies production facilities at the company's Ludwigshafen, Germany, site with 400 megawatts of electricity and 650 metric tons of steam per hour.

Another way BASF is attacking energy waste at Ludwigshafen is through a steam network that enables heat recovery, according to an ARC summary of a presentation given by Franz-Joseph Kersting, European automation coordination team director at BASF SE. Among the system's features is the incorporation of process automation for automated startups and shutdowns. It also features load-dependent control on distillation columns that have the potential to save more than US$26,000 per year for each plant, with a return on investment in less than a year.

The production complex in Ludwigshafen also utilizes variable-speed drives for pumps, which can provide a 20% to 30% energy-efficiency increase over fixed-speed pumps, Kersting noted. Additionally, the Ludwigshafen facilities are equipped with intelligent heat trace systems that prevent freezing by monitoring ambient temperatures. Heat trace systems can cut electrical consumption by as much as 80%, according to Kersting.

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