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Industrial sustainability: Low-hanging (green) fruit

Feb. 16, 2022
There are few primary avenues to sustainability that are just right for the process industries and its users
More on industrial sustainability

This article is part of a series on industrial sustainability. Read more here.

Even though there's a dizzying array of  sustainability types, methods and strategies, most users can get greener using existing skills, infrastructure and equipment that's already in place. Here are six of the most self-evident:

  1. Deteriorating assets. Repairing and replacing long-neglected tanks, columns, pipelines, boilers, burners, valves, traps, pumps, fans, compressors and their support components can deliver double-digit operating efficiency and sustainability improvements.

  2. Emissions monitoring. Gas chromatographs, spectrophotometers, tunable diode laser analyzers and other instruments for evaluating emissions can also be extended to gather data and check for parameters related to improving sustainability.

  3. Leak detection. From porous water/wastewater systems that leak huge amounts of potable water to industrial facilities with old compressed air and other gas systems, huge amounts of energy and resources could be saved by simply finding and plugging more leaks.

  4. Flaring and waste. Traditional and still-widespread flaring at natural gas wells and refineries could be used to generate electricity and, in turn, enable other useful purposes, such as electrolyzing hydrogen. This is just one of many secondary or combined-cycle processes that could be added to increase and wring more benefits from the same amount of power and resources.  

  5. Process and power combined. Previously an accounting function, electricity has become another variable that can be monitored and optimized with familiar process control and automation strategies and solutions.   

  6. Digitalization. Process monitoring, efficiency, optimization and sustainability are being streamlined by increasingly easy-to-use  software, Internet networking, edge devices and cloud-computing services, and all of them an enable sustainability goals and projects.

About the author: Jim Montague
About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control.