DOE selects TTU to lead state's Industrial Assessment Center

Small- and medium-sized manufacturers across the state can soon take advantage of no cost energy assessments to increase their competitiveness.

Tennessee Tech University will lead the Tennessee 3-Star Industrial Assessment Center that will serve manufacturers in all three grand divisions of the state that seek to use energy more efficiently.

IAC analysts will focus on three main areas when they are invited by a manufacturer to a facility, said Ken Currie, assistant director.

"We'll look at energy savings and efficiency, productivity without expending more energy, and elimination of waste and waste streams," said Currie.

Currie illustrated how assessment can lead to a significant finding with an example of a manufacturer of frozen fried chicken that underwent an analysis of its three main processes: breading, deep frying and freezing. The manufacturer was paying for the oil to be removed from the premises, when analysts suggested that the oil could be used as biodiesel fuel, thus creating low-cost energy and eliminating waste and associated costs.

"If you can eliminate waste streams, you can save energy," said Currie.

The Tennessee 3-Star IAC, led at TTU with satellite offices at East Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis, is the only IAC funded within the state by DOE. IAC locations have been strategically placed at 25 other universities across the country including prominent institutions such as Georgia Tech, University of Washington, Lehigh, and Texas A&M, to name a few.

The IAC program is also intended to train young engineers to better understand the role energy efficiency and renewable energy can play in manufacturing and industrial processes. Participating students gain practical experience and hands-on training in energy engineering.

Currie says the assessments are free to industry, but participants must provide personnel to assist the analysts and be inclined to implement suggestions made.

"The program includes a six-month follow-up assessment of how changes were made and if they were successful in meeting the goals of saving energy and eliminating waste," said Currie.

Small- to medium-sized manufacturers, defined by the DOE as those with annual energy costs between $100,000 and $2.5 million, can apply for assessment by contacting Currie at 931-372-3836.

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