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Aquatherm Laundry Heat Exchanger Control System

Case Study: Laundry Heat Exchanger Control System

Market Sectors: Distribution & FMCG

Project Description: Supply of a Control System to Control and Optimise a Heat Exchanger for Energy Recovery for Industrial Laundries

Modern industrial laundries are capable of washing, drying and finishing several tonnes of linen an hour, returning clean sheets and pillowcases to their busy hotel customers in neatly folded packs ready to put straight onto guest beds. Other sectors of this important service market provide sterile linen for hospitals, clean uniforms for factory workers, entrance mats for banks and supermarkets – in fact we all encounter the output from this hidden industry every day of our lives in some form.

The processes use a significant amount of energy and water – think of a domestic washing machine multiplied by 200 – and that is just the equivalent of a single ‘tunnel washer’, of which there could be several. A typical laundry can discharge 20 tonnes of hot dirty water to drain each hour, every litre of which has been heated using gas or oil. Energy bills can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds each year, to say nothing of the environmental impact that result from these losses.

In theory it should be straightforward to recover much of this lost heat and use it to heat fresh water for the next production cycle. However, the cocktail of lint, fibre, dirt and grease, together with the industrial strength chemicals used to cleanse the fabrics is more than a match for most types of heat exchanger, which is where Aquatherm’s unique design, developed over 30 years comes into play.

The Aquatherm Heat Exchanger contains 1000 metres of specially indented stainless steel tubes, specially designed so they don’t get clogged up with loose fibres dislodged from garments during the washing process.

The heat exchangers recover heat from outgoing waste water which is used to heat incoming fresh water in the exchanger. This saves a typical laundry £ 50-100,000 per year, usually enough to recover the capital cost in the first year of operation.

A key element of the design is the control system. Whilst being a relatively standard unit, each Laundry configuration is slightly different, so the MCS Control Panel has options for 1 to 3 Variable Speed Drives to drive the pumps pumping the water through the Heat Exchanger, temperature inputs from thermocouples to optimise the flows from the temperature gradients of the ingoing and outgoing streams , inputs from flow meters and tank level sensors to control tank levels, and outputs to control the system valves.

The system is set up and controlled via an HMI in the front door of the panel, and the system also logs data and efficiencies which can be viewed historically on the HMI to monitor system performance and energy savings.

MCS have supplied controls systems for Aquatherm installations as far away as Manila, Norway, along with several installations in the UK.

Mike Edwards commented:

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