Glenfiddich measures up for energy cuts

15 April 2008

ABB has supplied eleven swirl meters in a bid to cut energy consumption at a Scottish whisky distillery. To achieve the savings William Grant required accurate data on current levels of steam consumption at its Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, Scotland.

Saving energy: whisky distiller calls in ABB
Saving energy: whisky distiller calls in ABB

The distiller uses steam in its distillation process to heat the fermented liquid to boiling point. The company had a twofold plan to improve energy efficiency and to gather data to inform the purchase of a new boiler.

Steam, for the whisky distillation process, is generated from a central boiler house previously using two boilers. Recent investment in a third boiler has increased the total steam producing capability of the site by approximately 25 per cent. The design of the steam distribution system allows steam to move in both directions from the boilers and back from the site if it is not needed. To measure this steam required a very accurate, multi-directional steam meter capable of being retrofitted into William Grant’s existing pipe network.

ABB Instrumentation alliance partner, JWF Process Solutions, suggested using ABB swirl meters back-to-back. These meters measure mass flow to an accuracy of plus, minus 0.5 per cent.

William Grant claims energy consumption can now be pinpointed to exact departments and processes, helping it to achieve its aim of cutting energy waste, limiting environmental impact and cutting costs. Information from the meters can be used to find problems, such as poor lagging or steam leaks.

Data from the meters is also being used to better manage the steam production around the site by highlighting consumption and trends. The swirl meters allow William Grant to look at fluctuations within the system to reveal the best way to balance steam requirements around the site.

‘Without steam meters you don’t know what’s being used, when or where. Previously, the system just ran and you used steam when it was required. Sometimes the steam would run out, delaying the process,’ Tony Allen, project engineer at William Grant, said.

‘ABB’s swirl meters accurately measure steam demand and reveal how much steam is being used by each piece of equipment. By analysing this data we can balance the steam use around the site and optimise our energy usage. The meters are beneficial and have already proved their value in terms of better controlling steam energy and steam usage around the site.’

Allen said the data had already been used to correctly size the replacement boiler.

He said: ‘The increased boiler efficiency and steam-raising capability of the new system have created energy savings and spirit quality has been enhanced by maintaining a constant supply pressure to the stills. We are now looking into enhancement possibilities for future development and the information from the meters is a very good way to justify the improvements needed on site’.

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