Energy prices have been in the doldrums and will only increase. That is set to change. Significant savings can be reaped by changing current practices in HVAC and process cooling system maintenance, before the inevitable increase in energy costs. The semiconductor industry is one of the biggest users of electricity. According to a 2018 McKinsey report, energy costs account for 5 to 30 percent of fab operating expenses. While energy efficiency has previously taken a backseat due to the low pricing climate, the inevitable uptick in electricity tariffs will have a significant impact on the bottom line. The graph ‘Best-fit Trendline’ illustrates the half-hourly energy price in the Singapore Wholesale Electricity Market over the last decade. We are clearly enjoying some of the lowest energy prices possible. The historical low prices were a combination of significant generating capacity coming on-stream starting from 2013, together with declining oil prices.

Electricity prices reached an all-time low in 2016 when oil prices were trading at US$ 26 per barrel. According to a November 2019 Straits Time report, the peak supply capacity is now believed to be double its peak demand. Some reports even suggest that proceeds from electricity sales are not enough to cover costs of fuel, maintenance and financing. As the energy market returns to equilibrium, and oil prices increase, energy prices will only further increase in the medium to longer term. Energy prices have already increased over 40% since the lows of 2016. This exerts downward pressure on bottom lines in the semiconductor industry, which are heavy users of energy. Of the amount fabs spend on electricity, HVAC and process cooling makes up the bulk of this cost. Our experience in non-fab settings tells us that HVAC cooling costs typically make up between 60-70% of total power consumption in commercial settings, and 50-60% in other industrial settings. Because of this, facilities managers pay special attention to the chiller plant efficiency. The energy efficiency of your chiller plant depends firstly on the efficiency built into your chiller plant, and secondly on the effectiveness of your maintenance regime to keep your chiller plant operating at peak efficiency.

 

 

Widely adopted industry practices typically use a combination of chemicals – to minimise building up of heat transfer impeding scaling, corrosion and biofouling, throwing away water to manage mineral concentration, and mechanical methods to remove some of the inevitable scaling build-up. Current practices, however, still cannot prevent a slow deterioration of system efficiency due to scaling build-up elsewhere in the system, at least until an annual shut down for cleaning happens.

Electrolysis – An Alternative & More Effective Way To Treat Cooling Tower Water

While chemical methods work by increasing the ability of water to hold more minerals, electrolysis method actively removes the culprits from the water. Not only does this prevent scaling, but it also allows for existing scales to dissolve back into the water, removing existing scales.

Chemical methods also typically require users to decide between trade-offs of scaling, corrosion and bacteria control.

With electrolysis methods, there is no such trade-offs. 

The Technical Principle 

As water evaporates from cooling tower to remove heat, scaling mineral content is left behind. Beyond certain concentration, these minerals precipitate and forms scales on chiller and piping, robbing energy efficiency. Because electrolysis directly removes scaling minerals in water, there is almost no need to throw away water for the purpose of keeping mineral concentrations low.

As such, electrolysis can improve COC to 60, from the current Gold Standard of 8 to 10. A six-fold increase. Cycle of Concentration (COC) is a measurement of how many times water can be used before it has to be blown down from the cooling tower. The product DeCaIon (DCI) is one such product using electrolysis for targeting scaling. It is specifically designed to address inefficiencies in current standard practices for maintenance. Specifically, there are 3 savings DCI target: Energy, Water, and Chemicals, while greatly simplifying maintenance.

Conclusion

Energy costs for HVAC and process cooling make up a substantial portion of operating costs. With energy costs at a historical low, it will only eat further into bottom lines as energy markets return to equilibrium. 

SOURCE OF CONTENTS 

Deston Plastics Pte Ltd (Authorised Distributor of DeCaIon)

Contact person: Mr. LIM Wei Yang

weiyang.lim@deston.com.sg