Industrial / Manufacturing
Project Number: 
Start Year: 
Markets Segments: 
Industrial - Manufacturing
Project Type: 
Type of Technology: 
California Energy Commission - PIER program
Project Status: 
Basic Research
Commercial Growth

The purpose of this project is to determine more precisely the potential benefits to the state of California of implementing advanced distillation within the state. Advanced distillation technology includes a number of enhancements to a design concept called "distributed distillation," which is an energy optimization analysis that aims to eliminate inefficiencies in conventional distillation. Advanced distillation can typically reduce energy use requirements, cooling water requirements, and environmental emission per pound of distillate by 50%. Any industry that uses distillation can potentially benefit from advanced distillation. The two industries that use the most distillation are petroleum refining and the hydrocarbon portion of the chemical industry (which includes industrial organic chemicals, plastics, organic detergents, organic pesticides and agricultural chemicals, and adhesives and sealants).

This project supports the PIER Program objectives of:
• Improving and enhancing the energy cost/value of California's electricity by developing and demonstrating an energy efficient industrial program for the chemical and petroleum industry
• Improving the environmental and public health costs/risks of California's electricity by reducing environmental impacts from California's petroleum and chemical industry production processes.

Proposed Outcomes:
The study will be conducted in two phases. In Phase I, researchers will determine the current California distillation energy use profile by industry segment and type of distillation. The project will also identify industry segments that would benefit most from application of advanced distillation technology.

In Phase II, EPRI will assist the Commission with participation in a technical study, sponsored by British Petroleum and the US DOE, to determine the energy savings of advanced distillation for an ethylene plant in California.

Actual Outcomes:
In Phase I, researchers identified the current distillation energy use profile in California by industry segment and type of distillation. The team also determined the industry segments in California that would obtain the greatest benefit from advanced distillation methods.

Results indicated that if a conservative 25% of all existing distillation within the state is revamped using advanced distillation, the annual thermal energy savings is estimated to be 52 trillion Btu. Another 5 trillion Btu in annual savings could be achieved in potential near-term new chemical plant construction. The value of this potential 57 trillion Btu/yr savings is: $142,500,000 (at a $2.5/mmBtu fuel cost); $285,000,000 (at a $5/mmBtu); and $570,000,000 (at $10/mmBtu).

Overall electricity savings would be about 1% of the thermal savings (about 200 megawatts). In addition to fuel savings and electricity savings, capital cost savings of up to 40% or more could be achieved, representing savings on the order of $800 million. Additional revenue could be realized through increased production. For the California petroleum refining industry (which represents more than 82% of the potential energy savings), the 25% of revamped distillation represents a 25% or more increase in production, which is worth on the order of $1 million per year in additional profit at a conservative $0.5/BBL profit margin.

The 57 trillion BTU/yr energy savings has an associated decrease in air pollution, water use, and wastewater discharges (including decreases of about 15 million ton/yr in carbon dioxide, 7,000 ton/yr NOx, 27 million tons/yr fresh water, and 1.5 million tons/yr wastewater).

Phase II of the study began in 2002 and will extend through 2003. EPRI is assisting the Commission with participation in a technical study, sponsored by British Petroleum and the US DOE, to determine the energy savings of advanced distillation for an ethylene plant in California. Upon completion of the study, EPRI will prepare a site-specific analysis of this application and prepare a final report to the Commission. The report will present the Phase II results and describe the impact of energy savings from the appplication of advanced distillation.

EPRI will also develop technology transfer materials to inform and educate California industries about the benefits of advanced distillation to encourage its adoption in California.

Project Status: Phase I is complete and covered in EPRI Report 1006719. Commission participation in Phase 2 of this study and a demonstration is in progress.