CO-GENERATION unit reduces pollution & alleviates electrical congestion

Covidien’s Surgical Devices Global Business Unit began the year by initiating a five-megawatt co-generation power plant on the grounds of its North Haven, Connecticut site. The new system provides electricity and steam for two manufacturing buildings on the 60-acre campus. Its capabilities include recovering waste heat from the gas engines and supplying steam and hot water for use in the manufacturing process.

“Covidien has consistently invested in environmentally friendly projects,” said Scott Flora, President, Surgical Devices, Covidien. “The co-generation plant will play a significant role in alleviating the electricity congestion in southwest Connecticut, while reducing pollution for the residents of North Haven and surrounding communities.”

A surge in the cost of electricity caused the North Haven plant to reevaluate their energy usage and explore new ways to not only cut costs but conserve energy as well. Surgical Devices had just completed a 10-year contract during which electricity rates had increased 100%, and the outlook for upcoming years in the Connecticut area was for even higher charges. A five-megawatt natural gas-fired engine proved to be the answer to a much-needed alternative energy supply, reducing electrical bills by nearly 50% during its first year of operation.

“I’m proud to be part of a company that thinks about energy efficiency. Covidien’s environmental philosophy is to conserve energy and protect the environment whenever possible. This natural gas-fired engine turns a generator that makes electricity. The engine gives off heat that is captured and run through a steam generator, using hot water from the engine coolant to go into the building’s hot water system and, in the end, provides Covidien with electricity and heat,” said Les Smith, Facilities/Maintenance Manager, who oversaw the project from its conception.

It is estimated that this engine will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 22,000 tons per year, which equates to planting 6,775 acres of forest or removing 4,383 cars from the roads. The reduced emissions also will lower Covidien’s demand on the electric power grid by over 60%.

The North Haven plant did not rely only on the initiation of the co-generation power plant. Other recent energy efficiency projects at the facility included the installation of a new boiler to replace eight older, less efficient boilers. The new boiler will use almost 50% less natural gas than the original boilers. In addition, Surgical Devices installed more efficient lighting fixtures and variable frequency drives on motors in the manufacturing plant. These projects have produced an estimated reduction of over 800 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to planting over 240 acres of forest or removing 157 cars from Connecticut roads.

“There are always more ways to conserve energy at a facility this size. In the future, we plan on implementing additional co-generation engines. Conserving energy is always a difficult task, and we welcome this challenge,” said Smith.