New design approach to reduce energy waste

THE problem with conventional electrical heating systems is that they have generally been designed by electrical engineers who have no training or understanding of heat transfer as a science, according to Grimwood managing director and mechanical engineer Brian Walkington.
Mr Walkington said that the heat transfer process was a core discipline of mechanical engineering, but as designs had largely been based on what worked in the past, engineers
had not had the opportunity to prove how designs could be enhanced.
“All they [electrical engineers] know is that ‘yes this worked’ and ‘that didn’t work’, but they don’t know why it did or it didn’t,” he said.
“The designs have been fairly inefficient, and the geometry of the equipment is often inappropriate, because they don’t understand why it should be designed in a particular way.”
Grimwood differentiates itself from most electric heating manufacturers around the world by having mechanical engineers at the forefront of its business. The Australian-owned and operated company’s alternative design approach enables it to fi nd innovative solutions to its customers’ diverse requirements. Mr Walkington added that Grimwood’s systems improved on energy consumption in comparison to conventional designs.
“The control systems that we use are adaptive control systems, which are able to respond to variations in the process parameters, ensuring that we only use enough heat as we need to get the required process outcome,” he said. According to Mr Walkington, the company’s systems adapted to variations in flow rate, temperature or pressure, whereas conventional designs often overheated because they were designed for a worst-case scenario.
“Our control systems are clever enough to be able to take all of that into account so that you only use the energy that you need to use… With a lot of conventional systems, it’s either on or off,” he said. Grimwood has worked for many major companies in the Australian oil and gas industry, having most success in the pipeline distribution sector. The company is looking to expand into upstream markets such as refineries, where Mr Walkington said he believed that Grimwood’s systems could provide significant reductions in energy costs. He added that a benefit the company offered to its customers was the ability to configure equipment based on their specific requirements. “What [customers] think they want is
quite often different to what they really need, because they don’t necessarily understand what we are able to do. Therefore, that can constrain their thinking about what is possible,” Mr Walkington said.

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