Energy Consumption

Energy Efficiency in Bulk Materials Handling

09/22/2011 | Autor / Editor: W. A. Günthner, Ch. Tilke, and S. Rakitsch * / Marcel Dröttboom

Especially the bulk handling industry still has an enormous potential to save energy and cost as well. (Picture: Jürgen Nießen, www.pixelio.de)
Especially the bulk handling industry still has an enormous potential to save energy and cost as well. (Picture: Jürgen Nießen, www.pixelio.de)

Climate protection as the only argument does not seem sufficient for the partly highly expensive investment in energy efficient solutions. But due to increasing energy costs, energy efficient equipment gets more and more attractive. Especially the bulk handling industry still has an enormous potential to save energy and costs as well.

The topic of energy efficiency is very popular today, not least due to the recently concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Increasing energy costs and the debate of the climatic change with its consequences are the nutrient medium for this development also in the industrial sector. This is the background of this article which deals with the question which potential could become useable in using an energy efficient arrangement of processes and machines.

The Change of the World Climate

In the end of 2009 the 15th United Nations Climate Change ­Conference (UNCCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark, caused a sensation in the world press. It is the second step after the conference of Kyoto, Japan, to confront the preceding climatic change and its consequences on international-law level. The aim for the industrial and commercial sector has to be to combine a reasonable and therefore saving input of resources with economical aims.

Climatic change means the continuing increase of the average earth temperature. In the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, six different scenarios are analysed. In the Best-Case-Scenario (B1-Scenario) the average temperature increases of 1.8°C till the end of the century whereas the Worst-case-Scenario (A1F1-Scenario) predicts an average warming of 4°C [1]. If we believe the climate experts, such a dramatic increase of the average temperature will lead to rising sea levels, famines, a lacking of freshwater supply, a pejoration of air quality and irreversible impacts of the ecosystem [2].

To confront these disastrous effects for mankind, the nations agreed for the first time on binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions at the 3rd UNCCC in Kyoto in 1997 and fixed them in the often quoted Kyoto Protocol. In this protocol, the climatic change is finally established as a global challenge on a political level and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is combated as the biggest ‘climate killer’ which is influenceable by mankind. The agreement entered into force in the beginning of 2005 and includes now 182 nations as completely valid parties. The target agreed upon was an average reduction of 5.2 percent from the 1990 levels in the first commitment period between 2008 and 2012 [3]. The 15th UNCCC in Copenhagen 2009 aimed to agree to a new international framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012. Even if this was not reached, the negotiators of the participant parties agreed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to keep any temperature increases to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels [4].

But the required reduction of the international carbon dioxide emissions is contrary to the tendency of the last decades (see Fig. 1). Since the beginning of the industrialisation, the carbon dioxide percentage in the atmosphere has increased significantly, mainly during the last 50 years. This shows the importance of the gist of the 4th UN-climate report that an increase of concentration of carbon dioxide in earth atmosphere contributes directly to global warming. It is here where the topic of energy consumption comes into play. Most of our energy resources are based upon fossil energy sources, which most important component again is carbon. That means that responsible and efficient energy consumption is the most important contribute to climate protection!

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