Buckman and energy drive partner on sustainability efforts

MEMPHIS, Tenn., USA – In 2012, Buckman, a US-headquartered specialty chemical company, partnered with Energy Drive with a goal of reducing electricity usage and water consumption at Buckman’s Hammarsdale, South Africa facility. Energy Drive is a company that forges partnerships with organizations to reduce energy consumption in a sustainable manner, with minimal capital investment requirements. Together, the two saw an opportunity to monitor Buckman’s primary cooling tower to help the company achieve sustainable environmental benefits.

The cooling tower system comprises two fans and two pumps, which originally ran at maximum speed for 24 hours per day every week from Monday morning until Saturday morning, even when water temperatures were sufficient for process requirements.

Once Energy Drive’s energy-saving solution was installed on the four motors; sensors provided variable frequency drives with the information necessary to regulate the speed of the motors depending on the temperature required. Now, when the system reaches the desired temperature, the pumps and fans slow to the optimal speed to ensure that energy is not wasted.

As the systems have been in place for 10 years, Buckman has realized many benefits of this technology. “The low monthly service charge is completely offset by the energy savings we gain from the variable speed drives,” said Mukesh Ramatar, Plant Manager for Buckman South Africa. “But even more important are the positive environmental impacts we’ve seen from the solution – they are the real driver of the value we see.”

In 2022, Buckman received a milestone achievement certificate from Energy Drive. In collaboration with the company, Buckman has surpassed the milestone of 4.0M kWh hours in energy saved. This equates to 4.16M kg of CO2 eliminated, 5.5M liters of water saved and 2.74M kg of coal and ash not used or generated.

“It has been a privilege working with Buckman, actualizing sustainability on their behalf,” says Mark Milne, General Manager for Energy Drive South Africa. “The focus on ESG targets over recent years highlights the importance of these kinds of projects. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Together we have a greater impact.”

The variable speed drives also add an extra layer of protection to motor and pump systems by allowing the pump to gradually ramp up to the speed required by the process, rather than starting and operating at 100% speed. Operating the motor and pump at less than full speed reduces the flow and pressure created by the pump meaning excess flow and pressure do not need to be dissipated in the system. When less strain is put on the pumps it not only protects the equipment, but also reduces the energy consumed by the system.

“One of the best things about variable speed drives is that they could be installed across all cooling tower systems and chiller systems globally,” said Ramatar. “Which could exponentially impact our energy savings and sustainability efforts. We look forward to continuing our close relationship with Energy Drive and are proud to continue reaching and surpassing sustainability milestones.”

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