Driving Industrial Innovation With Next-Gen Solutions
Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

Driving Industrial Innovation With Next-Gen Solutions

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Figure this. By 2030, the global middle-class population is estimated to grow by over 70 per cent – from three billion to more than five billion people worldwide. Developing nations like India and China will be at the core of this growth, with both estimated to house one billion middle-class nationals each.

Projections also suggest that global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will double within this period, and India’s per capita GDP is expected to triple, even though it will remain at less than half of that of China’s. Such rapid growth will come with a corresponding increase in the purchasing power, and several small towns and cities will transform into industrial hubs and business centers to cater to the increased demand for consumables in the changing landscape.

Quite naturally, an increased amount of energy will be required to fuel this urbanization. More and more homes will turn airconditioned and an even larger number will get electrified, creating added demand for consumer goods like appliances and automobiles like never before. This access to modern energy is expected to improve quality of living, increase life expectancy, reduce poverty, and support higher levels of education.

It is estimated that by 2040, global energy demand will increase by a whopping 25 per cent. A large part of this demand will be generated in India and China where energy use is estimated to increase by 40 per cent to meet the changing requirements of the population and support widespread development.

This development, however, will come at a huge cost to the environment which is already struggling to support the burgeoning population and rampant expansion of cities, especially in developing nations. The soaring energy demands will cause an exponential increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions thereby raising the environmental costs of development steeply while also adversely impacting global biodiversity and our collective health and well-being.

Industries are the big polluters

Developing nations such as India need to strike a balance between providing affordable energy to its citizens and reducing its consequent ill-effects on the environment. The energy sector is the largest source of GHG emissions globally, which is one of the main causes of climate change. Countries around the world are coming together to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

This growing awareness has resulted in a worldwide callout for conscious actions. Individuals around the globe are attempting to do their bit by making simple alterations in day-to-day activities, like containing energy use, switching to energy-efficient vehicles, saving power, and more.

However, the reality is that industrial use accounts for over 30 per cent of the world’s energy and about 50 per cent of global electricity demand.

The industrial sector, therefore, has a key role to play in reversing the damage being caused by climate change through innovations in materials and systems used. The processes and choices need to be switched for options which are more energy efficient and reduce our carbon footprint.

For industries, a shift to lower carbon energy sources and better industrial operations are key to bringing down CO2 emissions. In addition, it is equally important to focus on small business decisions such as the right choice of lubricants. New technological solutions are being designed to achieve climate goals even as the living standards of people rise.

Switching to low-carbon solutions

Lubricants are used to meet different needs. They are aimed at reducing friction and heat, increasing machine life by reducing wear and tear and the impact of extreme temperatures on machines. By using the right kind of lubricant, industrial units can contain their carbon footprint and reduce the impact of harmful pollutants like CO2 that are spewed into the air and at the same time increase the life of the machines and increase productivity.

For industries looking for low-carbon solutions, making the right choice of lubricant that fits their machinery’s requirements is critical. It is important to compare the costs of operation between different lubricants keeping in view their time of use because synthetic lubricants offer longer oil drain intervals.

The energy efficiency varies from lubricant to lubricant and every variant would offer different savings on the overall energy bill. It is important to assess the savings in both the energy consumption and resultant savings in carbon footprint in a controlled environment to get accurate results.

In addition, making the switch from one lubricant to another involves a cost – this could include a one-time price of disposal of the used lubricant, the cost of the lubricant in operation which has already been delivered and labour costs. All these costs must be factored in while calculating the overall savings.

Energy conserving lubricants offer many other benefits too, including economy in energy bills. Well lubricated machines take less energy, leading to big savings on operating costs and increased profits. This reduced energy consumption leads to lower levels of pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, sulfates, CO2 and other unburned hydrocarbons.

Fuel for the future

An innovative study conducted by ExxonMobil, EVCO plastics and Focus on energy showed how a lubricant can provide significant energy and financial savings.

A case in point is an Oklahoma-based natural gas pipeline provider which operates natural gas engines using 75 million cubic feet of natural gas annually. The company wanted to bring down their energy bill and made a switch to ExxonMobil’s Mobil SHC Pegasus 30 synthetic natural gas engine oil to lubricate its engines. The switch led to annual savings of US$ 3,938 per engine in natural gas fuel costs, which translates into a 1.5 per cent increase in fuel efficiency for the entire plant. This savings had a green side too – the annual CO2 emissions also came down by about 50 tons per engine.

A similar saving was reported by Apollo Tyres which recorded higher efficiency for their Cracker Mill gearbox lubrication systems after making a switch from conventional mineral gear to ExxonMobil’s Mobil SHC 634.

The change in lubricant, supported by the ExxonMobil Engineering Support team, brought down oil drain intervals and improved the reliability of the machinery, increasing the energy efficiency by 2.6 per cent. This resulted in cost savings of US$ 4,160.

ExxonMobil’s Mobile SHC Elite series of lubricants which have been scientifically engineered using the revolutionary PAO molecule to improve the performance of machinery, reduce energy wastage and reduce carbon footprint. New-age technological solutions such as these enable human development and economic progress while offering “green” solutions for the environment too.

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