American Honda generating its own electricity

Saturday, 03 December, 2005

Establishing a reputation for environmentally-conscious products, American Honda is dedicated to environmental responsibility, extending to its operations and facilities. Recently, it established the ability to generate its own electricity for its facilities at a lower cost, both fiscally and environmentally, using natural gas.

After researching generating systems from several manufacturers, American Honda selected a combined heat and power (CHP) system from Cummins Power Generation. Based on projections, it is estimated that the company will save more than 30% in on-site energy expenditures each year.

American Honda's headquarters covers more than 100 acres and includes 12 buildings with nearly 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use office space for approximately 3000 workers.

CHP systems consist of a generator set, heat recovery equipment and control systems. They produce electricity and heat from a single source of energy - usually natural gas. The heat produced can be used for space heating/cooling or for making process hot water, cold water or steam.

In addition, on-site CHP systems generate electricity about 33% more efficiently than central power stations, in part, because they capture and use nearly all of the heat that central power stations normally waste.

Depending on the application, experience has shown that the integration of electric and thermal power production using an on-site CHP system can often produce savings of up to 35% on total energy expenditures.

Garth Sellers, American Honda's manager, National Facility Management, says that, beyond saving money on its electric bill, American Honda approached the CHP project as part of its more than 30-year commitment to the environment through developing and implementing industry-leading technologies for its customers and society.

"We make every effort to contribute to human health and the preservation of the global environment in each phase of the company's corporate activities, products, manufacturing and business practices," says Sellers. "Our decision to install cogeneration was an entirely logical one - it took our environmental commitment a step further. Although we previously installed a variety of retrofits and upgrades to reduce energy usage, it was time to take the next step in this process - to begin generating our own power."

On-site power generating systems in California face the most restrictive environmental standards anywhere in the world. As a result, Cummins Cal Pacific has developed an expertise in after-treatment control of emissions from diesel and gas generating sets. The PowerCommand QSV91G generating set installed at American Honda is claimed to be one of the cleanest gas generating sets available in the market. Without after-treatment, the reciprocating gas engine generator's emissions of NOx are 111 ppm by volume (0.85 g/BHP-hr). This level of emissions meets air-quality standards in most parts of the country. However, to meet California's strict air-quality standard of only 14 ppm by volume, the generator's exhaust needed to be treated.

Cummins designed and installed a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system on the generator set's exhaust that uses a urea injection to reduce the NOx in the engine's exhaust. Following treatment, NOx in the exhaust stream is reduced to less than 14 ppm by volume in compliance with the state standard.

In addition to the CHP system, the company has other standby power systems for the site. Sellers says the standby power systems are used fewer than eight times a year for power outages that last for less than an hour. With the CHP system online, an additional 1250 kW is now available to keep the central plant running without interruption in the event of a utility power outage, thereby improving the overall power reliability for the site.

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