Best Practices, a program of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Industrial Technologies Program (ITP), works with industry to identify plant-wide opportunities to save energy and increase process efficiency. Companies across the U.S. are achieving immediate savings by implementing new technologies and systems improvements.

Process heating applications in U.S. industrial plants, such as in the metal and glass industries, consume about 38% of the energy used. Regulatory and competitive pressures to control emissions and reduce operating costs require metal and glass manufacturers to consider various options to reduce overall energy consumption, and many opportunities to accomplish this can be identified in industrial systems by conducting plant-wide assessments (PWA). ITP cosponsors PWAs through a solicitation process. Conducting a PWA involves a systems-level approach to investigate plant energy use and identifies opportunities to implement energy efficiency technologies together with other best energy management practices.

Process heating systems include many different components for generating, supplying, transferring, containing and recovering heat, and other support and auxiliary systems. According ITP, processes at operating temperatures greater than 600°F represent the greatest potential for energy savings, because the margin for improvement is large and the returns are greater.

Some of the opportunities can be implemented at little or no cost. For example, tuning burners to reduce excess air is a cost-effective technique to reduce the amount of heat lost in the exhaust. Closing oven doors when operations permit and turning off pumps and fans when not needed are other no-cost energy-saving options. Installing thermal insulation and maintaining refractory linings are effective in reducing heat loss with simple paybacks of one year or less. Also, you can realize significant energy savings by installing equipment to capture and use waste heat and by using advanced sensors, controls and materials. On the other hand, application of enabling technologies is often capital intensive and can require changes in the process or operating procedures.

Industrial Technologies Program currently has more than 120 technologies that are emerging from research and development, and are expected to be ready for commercialization within the next one to two years. More than 50 of these have been identified as being immediately ready for field testing.

Learn how your company can take advantage of energy- and cost-saving opportunities in process heating systems. You can read case studies to find out more about process heating best practices and PWAs by logging on to the ITP BestPractices Web site at

If you haven't already taken a close look at these helpful practices, maybe it's time to take a look.