This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 22, 2007

DOE Launches Round 3 of its Industrial Energy Assessments

A DOE program that has performed energy assessments at 253 industrial plants throughout the United States is ready for more. The Industrial Technologies Program's "Save Energy Now" campaign began accepting applications for its third round of energy assessments on August 20th. Save Energy Now assessments primarily focus on energy-intensive components and systems, such as fans, pumps, and systems for process heating, steam, and compressed air. To date, the assessments have resulted in annual energy savings of nearly $63 million, and currently planned projects are expected to yield another $263 million in annual energy savings. If all the measures identified by the energy assessments were implemented, they would yield an annual cost savings of more than $574 million per year. In other words, each assessment has identified, on average, roughly $2.27 million in energy savings. DOE will make its initial selections of industrial plants for energy assessments starting in mid-September, and additional selections will be announced periodically until the target of 250 assessments is reached for the calendar year 2008. See the Save Energy Now Web site.

While DOE charges ahead with energy assessments at industrial plants, the agency also wants to know the best way to reduce industrial energy intensity, defined as the energy consumed to produce a unit of product, such as a pound of polyethylene or a ton of steel. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes DOE to enter into voluntary agreements with industry with the goal of reducing energy intensity by at least 2.5% per year through 2016. The goal is to reduce industrial energy intensity by 25% by 2017, and DOE is seeking information from industries, industry associations, and other groups regarding the most beneficial and efficient way to implement this goal. So to all you industrialists out there, here's your chance to tell DOE how to best work with industry to save energy. But hurry, because DOE needs your input by September 18th. See the Special Notice on the DOE e-Center Web site.

As one example of industrial energy efficiency, ExxonMobil Chemical recently announced its development of a breakthrough process for the production of butyl rubber, which is mainly used for inner tubes and liners in tires. The rubber is formed through a polymerization reaction, in which relatively small molecules link together to form a long-chain molecule, or polymer. For butyl rubber, this reaction generates a lot of heat, so it is normally carried out at about -150°F. ExxonMobil Chemical's new process saves energy by operating at a higher temperature, and it also decreases the energy intensity of the process by significantly increasing the production capacity at the company's existing plants. ExxonMobil Chemical has tested the process for two years at a plant in France and now intends to implement the process at its other butyl rubber plants around the world. See the ExxonMobil press release.