ACE launches cooling system webinar series

By Matt Thompson | October 22, 2018

The American Coalition for Ethanol recently began a webinar series aimed at helping plant managers understand how proper cooling system design, maintenance, and upkeep affects their business.

During the first session, Bob Jewell, energy systems chief from Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co., in Benson, Minnesota, and Andrew Ledlie, North American marketing manager with Solenis, discussed some of the factors that can impact a plant’s cooling capacity and revenue.

“It’s not uncommon for plants to struggle due to lack of adequate cooling capacities. … And it’s relatively common that when plants do debottlenecking … the potential impact to cooling systems’ capacities is underappreciated or undervalued,” Jewell said. He also said many people don’t realize how complex a cooling system is. Understanding those complexities helps managers get the most out of their systems.

Getting plants to operate at peak performance levels is tricky in the summer, but the cooling system plays a significant role, Ledlie said. He added that plants experience summer production lulls, not because of Reid vapor pressure (RVP) restrictions and the summertime ban on E15 sales, but because of cooling system issues. “It really is an issue of operational consistency linked with cooling capacity in the ethanol plants themselves that’s causing this slow back,” he said. “And again, it rolls up to about 250 million gallons per year, on average, and when you think of the revenue that you get from ethanol and your coproducts, it’s approaching $500 million of lost revenue.”

Solenis worked with Jewell at CVEC, and after installing a larger cooling system, coupled with technology to help monitor the new system in real-time, the plant saw an improvement, Ledlie said. “If we look at the data from last summer, huge improvement there. Five percent improvement in throughput during the summer. … But also only having to run the chillers for 160 hours during that summer. A 90 percent reduction in chiller operation,” he said.

The webinar series includes six sessions, with presentations from Trane, Brentwood Industries, and Midwest Cooling Towers, among others. The sessions run every other Wednesday until Dec. 19. More information is available at www.ethanol.org.