A1 Energy

The Benefits of CHP for Food Manufacturers

08.21.20 11:36 AM By Jon

Industrial food manufacturers are known to use an incredible amount of energy when it comes to operating their facilities. Whether it is electric or thermal energy , food manufacturers depend on having enough precisely when they need it in order to operate smoothly. This need for a large amount of energy comes at both a great financial and emissions cost.


For that exact reason, major food manufacturers across the country are always looking for new and meaningful ways to either decrease their energy needs – or rather, make their energy usage more efficient – so that they can optimize the energy dollars spent and improve the bottom line.


That is why many food manufacturers evaluate and implement combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration. Adding a CHP system to a food processor facility is one of the best ways to take advantage of top technologies in order to see a business prosper.

How it Works

CHP is an energy efficient process that generates electricity and captures the heat that would otherwise be wasted to provide useful thermal energy- such as steam or hot water- that can be used for space heating, cooling, domestic hot water and industrial processes.


There are two common configurations of CHP –


    • Combustion turbine, or reciprocating engine, with heat recovery unit


    • Steam boiler with steam turbine.


A reciprocating engine with a heat recovery unit burns a fuel (natural gas, diesel, or biogas) to produce electricity and use heat recovery devices to capture the the exhaust and jacket heat from the engine.  This heat is converted into useful thermal energy, usually in the form of steam and/or hot water.


A combustion turbine is typically a simple cycle gas turbine to produce electricity and a heat recovery boiler to recover exhaust heat and turn to steam.


Steam turbines use a separate heat source and do not directly convert fuel to electricity.  The steam is transferred from the boiler to the turbine through high pressure steam that in turn powers the turbine and generator to produce the electricity.  These systems can use a variety of fuels, such as natural gas, oil, biomass, and coal and often are used in large utility plants. 

Absorption chillers are often designed into a CHP project.  The chillers can be exhaust fired using thermal energy recovered from the (CHP) prime movers. (e.g., reciprocating engines, microturbines, and combustion turbines)

Overview of Benefits

There are many benefits of combined heat and power for food manufacturers, here is a quick overview of what you can expect:


    ● Your system’s enhanced operational efficiency will dramatically decrease overhead costs


    ● You will reduce waste and further increase energy efficiency


    ● You will gain newfound and improved energy independence by moving a portion of your energy needs off the grid and decrease your carbon emissions


    ● You will potentially have the opportunity to improve other infrastructure


    ● You will gain increase energy resiliency and help ease congestion of the grid


    ● You will minimize energy cost risks based on fluctuations in the future markets


    ● You will enjoy greater economic stability and independence


As you can clearly see, all of these benefits will not only have the potential to have a positive impact on your business, but also your peace of mind going forward.
Overall, the main reason why food manufacturers turn to combined heat and power is because it can help decrease both your carbon emissions and energy costs.  Believe it or not, when it comes to total emissions, a food processor that is using CHP will be generating both electric and thermal energy at a combined efficiency of up to 85%.  Competitors without CHP, getting electricity from the grid and generating heat the traditional way typically run at a combined efficiency of around 55-60%.


You will enjoy an increased level of energy stability thanks to your business no longer fully relying on the grid.


In the end, it is quite clear why combined heat and power should be a consideration for all food manufacturers .