HOUSTON—Carbon black manufacturer Continental Carbon Co. plans to implement a real-time performance monitoring system at its Ponca City, Okla., plant to help improve its production and energy efficiency.
The company's goal is to increase its energy efficiency and greenhouse gas measurement capability via the monitoring system, according to Continental Carbon President Kim K.T. Pan. Continental Carbon wants to improve its energy costs and emission levels at the site.
The Houston-based firm chose to implement the RPM system at its Ponca City facility first because it is the largest among its three U.S. carbon black factories—Sunray, Texas, and Phenix City, Ala., are the others—and has the most to gain from the project, Pan said. Ultimately the company would like all its plants to have the system on-line, he said.
“This new system is another indication of our strong commitment to be among the best in the world in energy and operating efficiencies, as well as in environmental stewardship,” he said.
The RPM project in Ponca City is expected to be in place by the end of 2010. The investment at the site, while “significant,” according to Pan, wasn't disclosed.
The system will include a rigorous simulation model and a web-based interface for performance management, developed by Ingenious Inc., a Houston-based process solutions company specializing in serving the chemical, oil and gas, petrochemicals and refining industries. The interface will be connected to real-time data at the plant, and will include all facets of the Ponca City site's production process, Pan said.
Continental Carbon will rely on Ingenious' expertise in developing simulation models and providing state-of-the-art software tools for optimization and performance monitoring, he said.
The project includes the development of a reactor model for the carbon black manufacturing process, a comprehensive system to measure greenhouse gas emissions and a complete array of “key performance indicators” for energy management. These indicators are tied closely to energy efficiency and greenhouse gas monitoring.
“The introduction of more automation and data-driven processes is essential to recapture wasted energy generated in a carbon black plant,” Pan said. “Having the RPM tools will further optimize the plant operation process.”
Last month, Continental Carbon announced it was investing more than $60 million in energy recovery upgrades at its U.S. production sites, including a project in Sunray that will fuel a 10-year agreement with Valero Energy Corp. to supply the oil refiner with steam. That pipeline link is slated to begin in November 2011.
Electricity conversion via energy recovery projects at the other two production facilities are due to begin as well, with power available by late 2011, Continental Carbon said. Power generated will be used at the Ponca City and Phenix City plants, with any excess sold to other external customers or the local utility grid.