The Mass-Energy Balance is a tool we use to determine if a process is operating at its optimum efficiency. At the design stage of the process it is likely that a Mass or Material/Energy balance will have been completed to define the process boundaries and to identify how each component in the process loop must be sized and designed. Often the equally important step of operational evaluation after commissioning is omitted. This step looks at the way the process actually works and identifies any bottlenecks in the system and any inefficiencies.
The Mass/Energy balance is really an accounting system. It places an imaginary container around the process and evaluates all of the material mass flow streams into and out of the container. Any imbalance in the input and an energy output streams indicates an accumulation or a deficit of material or energy, dependent on type of imbalance. There is a very important principal that is being evaluated and this directly affects the bottom line.
The difference between the ‘design stage’ and the ‘operational stage’ Mass/Energy balance is that the design stage balance is based on estimates, models of the process, experience and the application of contingencies to take care of uncertainties in the system. It is often the case that minor losses are ignored or are not anticipated. Throughout the design and construction process changes may occur due to changes in practice, technology, or market conditions, and these changes may impact such items as the total production rate of the process.
The operational phase Mass/Energy balance uses measured variables and simple evaluations to test real world operating conditions. Each of the measured variables will be subject to error. It is rare that an operational Mass/Energy balance closes satisfactorily, so it is vital to understand where the measured variables are in error and how the errors might affect the solution of the balance.
Only after this work has been completed for the defined closed system is it safe to start using this data to look for energy savings and process improvements. At Burns Energy Systems our expertise is industrial furnaces and associated ancillaries. The Mass/ Energy balance is a first evaluation step we apply when we look for improvements to your process.
Mass Energy balances are also used to evaluate the performance of a control system to better understand how the system might be improved.