|Six Capstone C65 MicroTurbines were installed at this manufacturing facility for plastic packaging products. The microturbines are saving the manufacturer $35,000 a month. Photo Courtesy Capstone Turbine Corp.|
By Jim Crouse, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Capstone Turbine Corp.
For FDS Manufacturing Company in Pomona, Calif., trigeneration is more than generating onsite electrical, thermal and cooling power from a single fuel.
It's the company's clean-and-green way to battle California brownouts and produce packaging material with a competitive edge.
FDS Manufacturing owners decided to make their recyclable, Earth-friendly paper and plastic packaging products for industrial and agriculture customers even greener.
In 2009, the company planned to install a new plastics extruder line that required large amounts of electricity, hot air, and cold water.
After a widespread search, executives selected six Capstone C65 MicroTurbines to meet the facility's forecasted combined cooling, heating, and power (CCHP) needs, and significantly shrink its carbon footprint and energy bill.
Since the installation in December 2009, the low-emission microturbines have safeguarded the company's power supply, cut costs and reinforced its reputation in the green packaging market.
According to Kevin Stevenson, FDS manufacturing vice president of engineering, the need for a reliable, Earth-friendly power source that could operate even during brownouts launched the clean energy project.
"We were evaluating ways to increase our power supply and realized microturbines would allow us to fend for ourselves when California brownouts strike," he said.
Today, FDS Manufacturing uses 100 percent of electricity generated by the microturbines for manufacturing processes at the 240,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehousing facility.
The company averages a 2 MW power load for a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week production schedule to produce recyclable strawberry baskets, fruit clam shells, tray liners and other high-demand plastic agriculture products.
The grid-connected CCHP system generates 320 kW of electricity and supports 20 percent of the site's total power usage.
The natural gas-fueled microturbines operate at near 80 percent efficiency, saving FDS Manufacturing an estimated $35,000 per month.
Microturbine plastics drying system
FDS Manufacturing's microturbines are the foundation for the company's plastics drying system.
"From drying to cooling, we use our microturbines continuously for manufacturing processes, which is a huge advantage over solar power that's only available during the day," Stevenson said.
While six C65 microturbines generate clean onsite electricity for manufacturing equipment, microturbine exhaust heat is used in the plastic extrusion process.
Prior to the plastic extrusion process, recyclable plastic is dried using 280–320°F (138–160°C) heat byproduct from two microturbines connected to Sigma Energy heat exchangers.
The four remaining microturbines are plumbed in parallel to produce 198°F (92°C) water.
The hot water is then pumped to a 100 refrigeration tons Thermax LT10C absorption chiller to produce chilled water that cools plastic during the extrusion process.
The CCHP system is low-maintenance, but because of its sophistication, Capstone distributor Regatta Solutions retains a Capstone maintenance plan with FDS Manufacturing that includes quarterly check-ups to ensure equipment runs at an optimal level.
FDS Manufacturing is a major player in the West Coast agriculture industry. For more than six decades, FDS Manufacturing has made packaging material for major California growers, distributors, grocers and universities.
Since FDS Manufacturing replaced its old pistontype chilling equipment and two natural dryers with the low-emission CCHP system, the company has notably improved its carbon footprint and marketability.
"Our customers are very conscious of our carbon footprint," Stevenson said. "Our image was competing with other companies that have solar power. Although it's hard to quantify the value of marketing our greener image, we have a solid reputation as a green manufacturer and are taken more seriously."
The company received a Self-Generation Incentive Program grant from California to fund the Capstone microturbine installation.
FDS Manufacturing's power surety and reduced environmental impact and costs has the Stevenson family thinking about installing additional microturbines.
"We have capacity for six more C65 microturbines," Stevenson said. "We believe we'll install more when additional waste heat is needed because we've had such success generating inexpensive electricity using low-cost natural gas. Ultimately, our microturbines make us more competitive and conscious of the environment. They've been a great sales tool and resource that supports our intent to be a green manufacturer."
Power Engineerng Issue Archives
View Power Generation Articles on PennEnergy.com