New Industrial Drying System Promises to Save Water and Reduce Energy Use by 65 Percent
SoCalGas and the Gas Technology Institute have demonstrated an innovative drying technology that saves money and reduces emissions

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Gas Technology Institute (GTI) announced they have successfully demonstrated a new industrial drying technology that uses far less energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves money. The new technology can be used for drying or heat processing across a broad spectrum of industrial, agricultural and commercial applications—including drying livestock feed, textiles and pharmaceutical ingredients.

Compared to existing industrial dryers, the new technology uses 61 to 65 percent less natural gas, at least 40 percent less electricity, and recovers a substantial amount of water, all while drying up to eleven tons of wet material per hour. Utilization Technology Development (UTD) co-sponsored the project along with SoCalGas, and project funding for developing this innovative process was awarded by the California Energy Commission.

"SoCalGas is pleased to support the development of this natural gas drying system, which produces very low emissions and offers significant energy savings," said Yuri Freedman, senior director of business development at SoCalGas. "This is yet another example of quickly evolving natural gas technology that benefits many industries and businesses while positively impacting the environment."

The new technology was demonstrated at Martin Feed LLC, an industrial food processing site based in Corona, California. The site collects waste bakery material, such as dough, crackers and pastries, then dries and processes it to sell to dairy farms for feed.  Prior to implementing this new natural gas drying system, processing the bakery waste was an extensive and time-consuming process of sun drying that was affected by climate conditions such as wind and rain especially during the fall and winter months.

This new technology uses natural gas to generate a vacuum and captures excess heat from the process to preheat the incoming material being dried. The combination of the heat and vacuum results in faster, more efficient drying. The material is loaded into a feeding hopper and supplied into the drying chamber where controlled heat is applied to the continuously moving product while a vacuum draws out the moisture, allowing the product to be dried to specified moisture requirements in a shorter time. The product can be dried over a wide range of temperatures and production rates providing reliable operation, better product quality, and improved energy efficiency. Once the product is dried, it exits the system and is stored in a loading area.  

SoCalGas has been a leader in the research and development of new technologies that increase energy efficiency, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and keeps bills affordable for customers. Between 2014 and 2018, SoCalGas energy efficiency programs delivered more than 180 million therms in energy savings, enough natural gas usage for 403,000 households a year, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 955,000 metric tons, the equivalent of removing more than 202,000 cars from the road annually. These advances have also helped save SoCalGas customers more than $198 million in utility bill costs. In 2018 alone, SoCalGas' energy efficiency programs saved customers $57 million.

"This new drying system has been a gamechanger for our processing site. Not only does it save us copious amounts of time and money, but it's better for the environment. We are very pleased with this new technology," said Brian Hopkins, general Manager at Martin Feed, LLC.

"The Energy Commission works with researchers throughout the state and is proud to invest in innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse gas and other air pollutants while cutting energy use and costs," said Michael Lozano, CEC senior mechanical engineer.

"This emerging gas-fired thermo-vacuum drying technology offers significant energy and water savings across the industrial sector and has the potential to impact a lot of drying positively, and perhaps one day, can be replicated for commercial use as well," said Yaroslav Chudnovsky of GTI and principal investigator of the project.

About SoCalGas
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable natural gas service to 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Natural gas delivered through the company's pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians— about 45 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas' vision is to be the cleanest natural gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. In support of that vision, SoCalGas is committed to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its natural gas system infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2014 through 2018, the company invested nearly $6.5 billion to upgrade and modernize its natural gas system to enhance safety and reliability. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.  

About GTI 
GTI is a leading research, development, and training organization that has been addressing global energy and environmental challenges by developing technology-based solutions for consumers, industry, and government for more than 75 years.  

About Martin Feed, LLC
Martin Feed, LLC is a family owned and operated feed business based in Corona, Calif.  The Martin family began in the bakery waste industry in the 1960's when Frank E. Martin Sr. started collecting waste to feed his cattle.  Martin Feed now collects waste bakery material and sells the processed product to dairy farms throughout California. 

About Southern California Gas Co.: Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 145 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21.6 million consumers connected through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. SoCalGas is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.


SOURCE Southern California Gas Company

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