When Ocean Spray decided to open a new plant in Breinigsville a few years ago, engineers thought they’d need big boilers for steam to pasteurize juice concentrate, a complex and costly system that the industry had relied on for years.
Turns out they were wrong.
So the company quickly shed its old ways after talking with engineers from Worthington Energy Innovations, an Ohio-based energy efficiency organization that pioneered huge energy savings at Ford car manufacturing plants.
Thursday morning at EnergyPath 2017, a conference held at DeSales University in Center Valley, WEI officials gave insight on how their technology annually saves the Lehigh Valley-based plant more than a $1 million in energy costs by ditching the boiler technology – a system that would have cost $10 million – and incorporating energy efficiencies through equipment that cost millions less up front, cut carbon emissions and slashed its gas bill.
The annual daylong conference, sponsored by the Sustainable Energy Fund of Upper Macungie Township, featured a series of panel discussions, speakers and exhibits exploring what consumers buy and eat and the energy they consume.
Ocean Spray plant director Tim Haggerty, speaking via video, said the facility is the only juice plant in North America that uses this technology that relies on hot water, not steam, in its pasteurization. The plant blends and packages juices.
Ocean Spray opened the $110 million, 315,000-square foot building in 2014 after deciding to close its factory in Bordentown City, N.J.
Mike Merchant, a WEI energy engineer and site manager at the Ocean Spray plant, said the savings are the result of several technical factors that primarily involve negative pressurization of the plant, meaning the facilities are pressurized in a way that pushed out outside air so it can’t enter the building. That has a big impact on heating and cooling costs,
“You don’t need as much energy to move air around,” Merchant said.
On top of that, Ocean Spray did not have to install expensive heating and ventilation ducts.
Then there was the 37-percent reduction in energy use by switching from steam.
“Why buy more energy when you’re throwing it away,” Merchant said.