Increase Resource Efficiency with Universal, Integrated Metric

by | Apr 23, 2019 | Operational Excellence, Services, Consulting & Training

If you’re in the energy business—upstream, midstream, downstream, and electrical power generation & distribution, IHS Markit has a great CERAWeek On-Demand Video site of presentations and interviews from the conference.

One example is the presentation, Decarbonization vs. Profit: Eliminating the Rivalry Through Exergy, given by Emerson’s Ana Gonzalez Hernandez. Ana received her PhD from Cambridge University and is a Resource Efficiency & Commercialization Manager, based in the U.K.

Ana sees big potential for manufacturers along a decarbonization path to use a resource efficiency benchmark for continuous improvement. The challenge is to overcome current perceptions which consider energy efficiency, measured in terms of energy intensity, or material efficiency in terms of yield rates or materials intensity, separately instead of holistically. The interactions between energy and materials is much more complicated as they flow through the production process.

For instance, if you lose the materials to waste or quality non-conformance near the end of the processing, you’ve actually lost both the materials and all the energy consumed to reach that point of the process. The challenge of measuring materials and energy is that they use different units of measurement—mass for materials and joules for energy—and are challenging to reconcile.

To be able to track resource efficiency in a holistic and integrated way, a new measure is needed to be able to set benchmarks to drive performance improvements. Ana highlighted the current soup of metrics being used as performance indicators on both the materials and energy consumption sides. Instead, a single resource efficiency metric can be used at each stakeholder level-operating personnel, corporate strategists, trade sector benchmarks, and policy makers.

From her PhD work, Ana developed a universal, integrated resource efficiency metric normalized using the Exergy thermodynamic principle. Unlike energy that “is neither created nor destroyed”, exergy is:

…always destroyed when a process is irreversible, for example loss of heat to the environment (see Second Law of Thermodynamics). This destruction is proportional to the entropy increase of the system together with its surroundings.

The resource efficiency metric is:

Product + Energy Byproduct + Material Byproduct
Materials In + Energy In

This metric is scalable from a single piece of equipment, such as an electric furnace, to an entire plant or fleet of plants or even an entire manufacturing sector. This metric provides a unique framework for analysis, widens boundary to consider entire systems and interactions, appraises value of resources used, and enables greater insight into losses for opportunities to optimize.

Watch the video to better understand how this resource efficiency metric can change your perspectives on how to drive improved business performance and reduced emissions. To better understand how this metric might be applied in your manufacturing or production operations, visit the Operational Certainty section on You can also connect and interact with other optimization experts in the Services group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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