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Technical Paper

Cracker Oven Gas Consumption

June 2010

Understanding Cracker Oven Gas Consumption to Reduce Energy Costs

By: Joseph S Zaleski Jr. President, Reading Bakery Systems

Cracker manufacturers worldwide have been baking their products on Direct Gas Fired ovens since the 1930s. Although electrical and mechanical components improved over the years, the basic concept of Direct Gas Fired (DGF) cracker ovens remains the same (Figure 1). A cracker oven is ideally configured with a minimum of three (3) zones and a maximum of six (6) zones. These ovens typically vary in length from 30 m (100 ft) to 90 m (300 ft). Although produced by a number of equipment manufacturers, the basic Figure 1: Typical DGF Cracker Oven principles of DGF oven designs are the same. A series of ribbon burners placed above and below the baking band produce the heat that bakes the product. The ribbon burners operate on a gas/air mixture, which combusts directly in the baking chamber. The burners heat the wire mesh belt as well as the ovens environment that, in turn, bakes the product. Exhaust is normally controlled via a series of adjustable dampers in each zone that regulate the exhaust and thus control the amount of water vapor released from the oven. All oven zones are generally the same except Zone 1 where a preheat section may be added to the return chamber of the oven to reheat the belt.

Theres estimated to be 800 to 1,000 of these ovens operating in the cracker and biscuit industry worldwide.

Line 2: Gas Usage

Determining Energy Consumption

One of the more common questions from cracker manufacturers operating DGF ovens is how to reduce fuel consumption. This is especially true in recent years, which have seen fuel prices rise at a faster past the ever. Gas conFigure 2: Cracker Oven Gas Trend Chart sumption is the largest utility cost the manufacturer incurs on a cracker production line. Cracker manufacturers usually know the monthly gas consumption of the factory but may not know the separate amount used by the ovens, boilers, heat exchangers and HVAC units. In order to determine if energy can be saved on any of these processes, one must know the energy presently being consumed. Engineers design DGF ovens with enough burners to quickly heat the oven at start-up. The burners then settle back to a mid-level firing position for baking. At start-up, burners fire at maximum rate then drift back to a steady state condition of 50 to 70% of capacity during production. To determine the specific gas consumption of their cracker oven, manufacturers can install fuel meters to measure the continued use of gas. These meters feed data to trending charts (Figure 2), which allow compilation of steady state gas usage during production. A key indicator of oven performance is the calculation of energy per unit weight of product being produced. This is normally expressed in KW-hr/kg or BTU/lb. Every product has a unique energy value determined by the oven type, bake time, specific formula and room conditions. Products that entirely cover the baking band, such as soda crackers, provide the highest oven efficiencies. Round products, which may cover only 40% of the baking band, can require up to 25% more energy from the oven. The round cracker product itself does not necessarily require more energy; the oven heat losses remain the same for both crackers. Full sheeted crackers baking at 3 minutes produce more product than round crackers covering only 60 to 70% of the belt baking Bread Snacks 0.32 - 0.45 KW-hr/kg 500 - 700 BTU/lb at the same time. Cookies 0.45 - 0.58 KW-hr/kg 700 - 900 BTU/lb Over the years, oven suppliers have Round Crackers 0.65 - 0.77 KW-hr/kg 1,000 - 1,200 BTU/lb collected typical expected values for energy consumption per unit weight of Full Sheet Crackers 0.52 - 0.65 KW-hr/kg 800 - 1,000 BTU/lb product. Table 1 shows a range of values Tortilla Chips 0.71 - 0.84 KW-hr/kg 1,100 - 1,300 BTU/lb collected for some of the most widely baked products in the industry. There Baked Potato Crisps 0.90 - 1.03 KW-hr/kg 1,400 - 1,600 BTU/lb are certainly exceptions to these values, Pretzels 0.97 - 1.29 KW-hr/kg 1,500 - 2,000 BTU/lb as older inefficient ovens may require Pita Breads 1.61 - 1.93 KW-hr/kg 2,500 - 3,000 BTU/lb more energy and newer improved insuTable 1: Gas Energy Values per Unit Product lated ovens reduce energy consumption.

In general, most products will fall into this range when baked on a typical tunnel oven. Once the total gas consumed by the oven is determined with a gas meter, the number needs to be broken down further to identify the areas consuming energy in the baking process. How much energy goes into the product and how much is attributed to oven losses? Once the breakdown is understood ways to improve the process and reduce energy can be determined. So, what consumes the heat in a DGF oven?

Balance of Energy in the Oven

The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy is always conserved in a process. The input energy must equal the output energy. Considering a cracker oven, the input energy, which is gas converted to heat, must equal the output energy consumed in the process. The combustion process of the ovens burners accounts for the energy going into the oven. Assuming the burners operate efficiently and at proper ratios, flow meters can measure the gas input to the oven. Gas flow can be converted to energy by using the standard tables for heat capacity of gases. For natural gas, the heat content of the gas varies between 9.8 and 10.9 KWh/m3 (950 and 1,050 BTU/ft3). The local gas company has the exact chemical makeup providing the specific heat capacity (or energy) for the local gas. Typically 10.3 KWh/m3 (1,000 BTU/ft3) is used as an average. Determining the energy consumed by the process is not as easy as measuring gas flow however, it must equal the energy input to the process. There are four primary areas of gas consumption in an oven. First, the product requires energy to raise its temperature and remove the water. Second, the exhaust system removes energy by discharging heated air and water vapor from inside the oven. Third, the belt continuously circulates through the oven requiring energy to re-heat for each cycle. And finally the oven loses energy by the transmission of heat through the walls, floor (oven base) and ceiling (oven top) as well as the entrance and exit of the oven chamber (Figure 3).

Qosr Energy Out Oven Surface Loses Qexh Energy Out Heated Exhaust Air is
replaced with cooler make-up air Product In Product Out

Qproduct Energy Out Qbelt Energy Out - Heat lost by the oven belt
Heat required for the product

Qgas Energy In - Heat from the Gas Combusting

Figure 3: Oven Heat Balance

The heat balance for the oven is as follows: Energy into the Oven: Energy Consumed: Energy Consumed: Energy Consumed: Energy Consumed: Combustion of Gas Qgas Qproduct Qbelt Qmuair Qosr

Drying the Product Heating the Belt Heating the Makeup Air Oven Surface Radiation losses

Qgas = Qproduct + Qbelt + Qmuair + Qosr Product: Energy is consumed in stages during the baking process. In the first stage, the cracker dough absorbs heat from the air, belt and radiation. As the water in the cracker dough transfers phases from liquid to gas it undergoes an energy transformation process called Latent Heat of Vaporization. Water is now separated from the product as vapor and both product and vapor continue to absorb heat and increase in temperature to match the oven environment. The product can be broken down and considered separately: dry materials and water. So the crackers go through the following energy changes: Heat Required by Product: Sensible Heat for Dry Product: Sensible Heat for Water in Product: Latent Heat of Evaporation: Sensible Heat of Vapor: Qproduct Qdryp= Mp cp (tp2 tp1) Qwat= Mw cp (tw2 tw1) Qevap= Mw (H) Qw vap= Mp cv (texh tp)

Mp, Mw, Mass Flow of the Product and Water cp, cv Specific Heat of the Product and Water Vapor H Energy of Vaporization Converting Water to Vapor tp2, tp1, tw2, tw1, texh, tp Temperatures of the Process: [tp2] product at oven exit; [tp1] product at oven entrance; [tw2] water at exit; [tw1] water at entrance; [texh] exhaust measured in oven stack; [tp] average product temperature in the oven. Belt: For the baking belt, the coolest temperature is measured on the inlet roll stand just prior to the oven. Raw product is deposited on the belt at this location. The hottest temperature recorded for the belt is at the oven discharge as it carries product out of the oven. The belt continually loses heat until it returns to the oven inlet unless there is a pre-heat system on the belt. Pre-heat is additional energy consumed by the process. To determine the energy consumption of the belt, either sum all the losses of heat for the belt or just calculate how much energy the belt absorbs during the baking process. Since the belt travels a fixed cycle, the heat gained equals the heat lost. The calculation for heat the belt is as follows: Heat Required for the Baking Belt: Qbelt= Mb cb (tb2 tb1)

Mb Mass Flow of the Belt cb Specific Heat of the Belt tb2, tb1 Temperatures of the Belt: (tb2] at exit; [tb1] at entrance

Surface Radiation: The heat lost to surface radiation requires a number of assumptions. The insulation and construction of the oven define the Heat Transfer Coefficient (U) used to calculate surface heat losses. This is similar in concept to how the insulation R values define how well a house holds heat. The more insulation and air entrapment a structure contains then the better overall R value of the structure. The Heat Transfer Coefficient, however, is inverse of the R value. High R values mean lower heat transfer coefficients and thus less energy lost. In order to calculate heat lost through surface radiation, the oven surface areas must be calculated. Heat Loss due to Oven Surface Area Radiation: Uo Heat Transfer Coefficient Ao Surface area of the Oven to, tr Temperatures of the Oven and Room Makeup Air: The exhaust system removes heated air and water vapor from the process. An ideal exhaust system would only remove water vapor from the process without removing the heated air. However the water vapor and air are thoroughly mixed together so removing one gas removes the other. Water vapor is lighter than air and will stratify in the upper chambers of the oven. The art of baking is to remove enough water vapor from the process so as not to saturate the inside of the oven and make the drying process less efficient. For maximum drying efficiency, all of the water vapor should be removed to allow the water to transition more easily out of the product. This would be very inefficient from an energy standpoint but it achieves the fastest possible product drying curve. To determine the energy required for makeup air, the exhaust flow rate is needed as well as the air temperature of the room and the oven temperature. Heat Required for Makeup Air: Ma - Mass Flow of the Air cpa - Specific Heat of the Air texh, tr Temperatures of the Exhaust and Room Qmair = Ma cpa (texh tr) Qosr = Uo Ao (to - tr)

Determining the Energy Consumption of a Typical DGF Cracker Oven

Consider a cracker production line with a typical DGF oven that is 1 m wide with six zones extending 90 m in length (Figure 4). The line produces round snack crackers at the rate of 1,833 kg/hr (4,032 lbs/hr) of finished product. The cracker dough is mixed with a moisture content of approximately 30%. The dough is then sheeted and cut into round shapes weighing 68 g (2.4 oz) for 18 pieces. Each raw cracker piece loses about 2% of its moisture in the sheeting process before it enters the oven. The crackers bake in the oven for 2 minutes 32 seconds (2.58 minutes), after which the end-of-oven product moisture is 2.25%. The crackers now have a finished weight of 52.5 g (1.9 oz) for 18 pieces. The DGF oven has an exposed surface area 582 m2 (6,265 ft2) to the room. The oven room is well ventilated with the average daily temperature of 35C (95F). The oven is sealed throughout except for where the belt and product enter and exit the oven. The open area at the entrance and exit of the oven are 0.185 m2 (2.0 ft2) each. The oven and

Zone 1: 48 DGF

Zone 2: 48 DGF

Zone 3: 48 DGF

Zone 4: 48 DGF

Zone 5: 48 DGF

Zone 6: 60 DGF

1 m (40 in) wide x 91 m (300 ft) long DGF Oven

Figure 4: Typical Cracker Oven

1,715 mm (67.5 in) return chambers are fully insulated (Figure 5). The Heat Transfer Coefficient for the oven is estimated to be 3.0 W/m2 C (0.53 BTU/hr ft2 F). A CB5 mesh belt transports the product through the oven and 1,450 mm continuously cycles through an (77 in) insulated return chamber below the oven. The insulated return has a preheat chamber to restore the belt temperature but it is not used for this product. The CB5 belt has a weight of 22.0 kg/m2 Figure 5: Oven Cross Section (4.5 lbs/ft2). A meter measures the gas flow to the oven and reports it to the process control screen for graphTemperature ing. The gas meter consistently reads Value C (F) 125 m3/hr (4,415 ft3/hr). The local gas company reports that the heat content Zone 1 3 Top Burners 308 (588) of the gas is 10.6 KW-hr/m Bottom Burners 235 (455) 3 (1,020 BTU/ft ). Pre-Heat 229 (444) Belt Temp Entering 163 (325) Table 2 contains the temperatures Zone 2 and exhaust settings as the oven bakes Top Burners 277 (531) Bottom Burners 229 (444) the cracker product. These are reference Pre-Heat 260 (501) temperatures as measured at points in Zone 3 Top Burners 246 (475) each zone. Bottom Burners 219 (427) To measure the actual environment tem- Zone 4 Top Burners 190 (374) perature of the oven, a SCORPION data Bottom Burners 156 (313) logger with a temperature sensing bar was Zone 5 passed though the oven to determine the Top Burners 251 (484) Bottom Burners 156 (313) average temperature of the baking process. Zone 6 Since each zone is controlled separately, Top Burners 255 (492) Bottom Burners 212 (414) the temperatures vary throughout the bakBelt Temperature Exiting 189 (370) ing process. For simplicity of calculations, 165 mm Mineral Wool Insulation

Fire Bricks above and Below Baking Belt

Insulated Belt Return

Exhaust Setting Open Rate m3/hr % (cfm) 100 2,040 (1,200)


2,040 (1,200)

100 100 50 50

2,040 (1,200) 2,040 (1,200) 1,020 (600) 1,020 (600)

Table 2: Oven Conditions

use the average temperature inside the oven as the oven environment temperature. According to the Figure 6, the average oven environment temperature is approximately 200C (392F).

What is the total hourly consumption of gas energy used by the Oven?
According to the flow meter, the oven consumes 125 m3/hr (4,415 ft3/hr) of gas to produce 1,833 kg/hr (4,032 lbs/hr) of finished crackers. The local natural gas at the plant has an energy value of 10.6 KW-hr/m3 (1,020 BTU/ft3) when burned properly. For simplicity of calculations, assume the oven is set up correctly and that the burners are operating efficiently. Calculated Hourly Gas Energy used by the Oven: 125 m3 gas/hr x 10.6 KW-hr/ m3 gas = 1,325 KW (4,521,088 BTU/hr)

What is the gas energy per unit weight of product produced?

Calculated Energy per unit weight of Product Produced: 1 hr/1,833 kg product x 125 m3 gas/hr x 10.6 KW-hr/m3 gas = 0.723 KW-hr/kg (1,122 BTU/lb) Referring back to Table 1, a cracker process generally runs in the range of 0.52 to 0.77 KW-hr/kg (800 to 1,200 BTU/lb). At 0.723 KW-hr/kg, the cracker oven is operating within the typical range.

Figure 6: Oven Conditions

What is the calculated energy required to bake 1,833 kg/hr of Finished Crackers?
From the discussion on Heat Balance, the energy in must equal the energy out.

Qin = Qout
Qin = Energy in the Oven from the combustion of Gas Qout = Energy consumed during the Baking Process (Product, Belt, Makeup Air and Oven Surface Radiation Losses)

Qout = Qproduct + Qbelt + Qmuair + Qosr

Heat Required by Product: Sensible Heat for Dry Product: Sensible Heat for Water in Product Latent Heat of Evaporation: Sensible Heat of Vapor: Heat Required for the Baking Belt: Heat Required for Makeup Air: Heat Loss due to Oven Surface Area Radiation: Qproduct Qdryp= Mp cp (tp2 tp1) Qwat= Mw cp (tw2 tw1) Qevap= Mw (H) Qw vap= Mp cv (texh tp) Qbelt= Mb cb (tb2 tb1) Qmair = Ma cpa (texh tr) Qosr = Uo Ao (to tr)

From the information collected during a site survey at the bakery, the following basic process data was collected: Product: Bake Time: Oven Belt Speed: Production: Mixer Dough Moisture: Oven Entrance Moisture: End of Oven Moisture: Finished Production Rate: Dry Ingredients Rate: Dough Rate at Mixer: Dough Rate into Oven: Total Water in Dough: Total Water in Dough at the Oven: Water Remaining in Finish Product: Round Laminated Snack Cracker 2 min 32 sec (2.58 minutes) 36 m/min 1,833 kg/hr (4,032 lbs/hr) of finished product 30% 28% 2.25% 1,833 kg/hr @ 2.25% Moisture 1,792 kg/hr @ 0% Moisture 2,560 kg/hr @ 30% Moisture 2,489 kg/hr @ 28% Moisture 2,560 kg/hr - 1,792 kg/hr = 768 kg/hr 2,489 kg/hr - 1,792 kg/hr = 697 kg/hr 1,833 kg/hr x 0.0225 = 41 kg/hr

Oven Dimensions: Total Oven Surface Area: Oven Exhaust Capacity: Oven Inlet and Exit Open Area: Belt Type and weight:

1.72 m wide x 1.45 m high x 91 m long 582 m2 2,040 m3/hr (1200 cfm) for each Zone; 0.185 m3 each CB5 Carbon Steel Belt @ 22.0 kg/m2

The information in a Table 3 correlates each value with a meaning in the energy balance equations. In addition, the calculations call for standard engineering values, which can be found in Handbooks1.
Designation Process Conditions (Units) Value

Mass Flow of the Dry Product: Mass Flow of Water in the Product at Oven Entrance: Mass Flow of Water in the Product at Oven Exit: Mass Flow of Water Evaporated in Oven: Temperature of Product/ Water at Oven Entrance: Temperature of Product/ Water at Oven Exit: Belt Temperature at Oven Entrance: Belt Temperature at Oven Exit: Air Density at Oven Temperature of 200C: Air Density at Oven Exhaust Temperature of 150C: Air Density of the Oven Room at a temperature of 30C: Temperature Average of the Product/Water in the Oven: Average Temperature of the Oven: Temperature of the Room: Temperature of the Exhaust (Estimated from Stack): Specific Heat Capacity of the Water: Specific Heat Capacity of the Dry Product (Cracker @ 2.5% Moisture): Specific Heat Capacity of the Water Vapor: Specific Heat Capacity of Air: Specific Heat Capacity of Carbon Steel Belt: Latent Heat of Evaporation: Heat Transfer Coefficient for the Oven/ Dryer: (Estimated)

Mp (kg/hr) Mw (kg/hr) Mw (kg/hr) Mw evap (kg/hr) tp1 & tw1 (C) tp2 & tw2 (C) tb1 (C) tb2 (C) a (kg/m3) a (kg/m3) a (kg/m3) tp ave (C) to (C) tr (C) texh (C) cpw kJ/(kg C) cpc kJ/(kg C) cpv kJ/(kg C) cpa kJ/(kg C) cpb kJ/(kg C) H kJ/kg Uo W/(m2 C )

1,792 697 41 656 30 98 180 225 0.75 0.84 1.13 64 200 35 150 4.2 1.57 2.0 1.0 0.49 2,270 3.0

Table 3: Oven Process Conditions and Parameters

Calculating the Energy Balance for the Oven

1. Heat Loss due to Oven Surface Area Radiation: Qosr = Uo Ao (to - tr) = 3.0 W/m2 C x 582 m2 (200C - 35C) = 288.1 KW 2. Heat Required by Product Sensible Heat for Dry Product: Qdryp = Mp cpc (tp2 tp1) Qdryp= 1,792 kg/hr x 1hr/3,600 sec x 1.57 kJ/kg C x (98C - 30C) = 53.1 KW Sensible Heat for Water: Qwat= Mw cpw (tw2 tw1) Qwat = 697 kg/hr x 1hr/3,600 sec x 4.2 kJ/kg C x (98C - 30C) = 55.3 KW Latent Heat of Evaporation: Qevap = Mwevap (H) Qevap = 656 kg/hr x 2,270 kJ/kg x 1 KW hr/3,600 kJ = 413.6 KW Sensible Heat of Vapor: Qwvap = Mw cpv (texh tp ave) Qwvap = 656 kg/hr x 1hr/3,600 sec x 2.0 kJ/kg C x (150C - 64C) = 31.3 KW Heat Required by the Product: = 53.1 + 55.3 + 413.6 + 31.3 = 553.3 KW 3. Heat Required for the Belt Sensible Heat for Belt: Qbelt = Mb cpb (tb2 tb1) Qbelt = 36.0 m/min x 22.0 kg/m2 x 1.0m x 1min/60 sec x 0.49 kJ/kg C x (225C-180C) = 291.1 KW 4. Heat Required for Makeup Air to replace Exhausted Air and Air Leaks: Qmair = Ma cpa (texh tr) Exhaust Stack Flow: Air Leaking from Oven End: Total mass of air to be reheated (Ma): (4 x 2,040 m3/hr) + (2 x 1,020 m3/hr) = 10,200 m3/hr Estimated to be 170 m3/hr x opening of 0.37m2 = 63 m3/hr 10,263 m3/hr x 1 hr/ 60 min x 0.84 kg/m3 = 143.7 kg/min

Qmair = 143.7 kg/min x 1.0 kJ/kg C x (150C - 35C) = 16,526 kJ/min Qmair = 16,526 kJ/min x 60 min/hr x 1 KW hr / 3,600 kJ = 275.4KW


Total Heat Required for Oven Qoven = Qosr + (Qdryp + Qwat + Qevap + Qwvap) + Qbelt + Qmair Qoven = 288.1 KW + 553.3 KW + 291.1 KW + 275.4 KW = 1,408 KW

Calculated Heat Required for the Cracker Oven:

1,408 KW (4,804,295 BTU/hr)

How does the calculated value compare to the measured value?

The calculated value can now be compared to the actual measured value by the gas meter: Calculated Energy Consumption: Actual Energy Consumption: 1,408 KW (4,804,295 BTU/hr) 1,325 KW (4,521,088 BTU/hr)

Close but not quite the same. Several reasons can explain the difference: Oven Burners may not be burning perfectly, converting all of the gas energy to heat. The oven may not be getting 10.6 KW-hr/m 3 (1,020 BTU/ft 3) from the combustion process as burners get fouled in the baking process. Estimates on the ovens Heat Transfer Coefficient may be slightly off. Measured Exhaust Flow rates may be slightly off. However, the calculated rate is within 10% of the actual value. Therefore this information can be used to determine the magnitude of the four categories of oven energy consumption identified (Figure 7).

Summary: Identifying Opportunities to Save Energy in DGF Cracker Ovens

Product Heat: Heat required by the product remains a constant for a given formula. The only possible means to reduce the required product energy is to remove water from the formula. Usually removing water from a product negatively affects the product development and texture. However one benefit of continuous mixing processes is that the thorough blending of water and flour can reduce water content of dough by 1 to 2%. Reducing the dough water content by 2% saves 3 to 4% of the overall oven energy requirement. Oven Surface Heat: Surface heat losses are dependent on the insulating quality of the oven. In most cases, this is fixed based on the oven construction. However, a portion of this calculated heat loss is due to the oven room environment and temperature. The cooler the oven room, the more heat is transferred from


the oven; blowing cool air over the oven also Cracker Oven Energy Input increases the heat transfer. So there must be a balance between keeping the oven room temperature warm enough to minimize radiant heat Oven Surface Heat transfer yet cool enough for people and electriMake Up Air cal components to co-exist. 20% Heat The ideal situation is an isolated oven room 18% where people do not have to work continuously within the environment. Isolated oven room temperatures between 32 and 42C (90 and 110F) minimize radiant heat losses of ovens. Oven Makeup Air: Removing water vapor is required in all baking ovens. Unfortunately, Belt Heat removing water vapor means removing heated 21% Product Heat air. If during the process of removing this water 39% vapor and air, the two streams can be separated discharge the water and save the heated air Figure 7: Oven Energy Consumption a much more efficient process would result. This is the function of a Makeup Air Heat Exchanger. Cooler makeup air entering the oven is passed over the hotter tubes of exhausting air thus transferring energy to the makeup air stream. The temperature of the exhaust air decreases as the temperature of the makeup air increases. Using heat exchangers makes it possible to capture up to 50% of the energy required to heat the makeup air thus reducing overall energy consumption of the process by approximately 5 to 10%. Oven Belt Heat: All tunnel ovens with belts traveling inside and outside the oven lose heat when outside the oven. Reviewing the basic energy equation for the belt, there are two opportunities to reduce the energy lost by the belt. First, a well insulated oven return will maintain more heat in the belt during the return process yielding a higher oven entrance temperature. Returning the belt back through the bottom of the oven chamber is even better. Higher temperatures inside the oven maintain a higher retention of belt heat. Belt weight accounts for the other opportunity to reduce heat. Lower belt weights consume less energy. Consider changing heavy dense belts such as a CB5 belt (22.0 kg/m2) with a similar but lighter belt such as a CB3 belt (15.6.0 kg/m2). This can reduce overall oven energy consumption by approximately 5%.

Contact details
For more information contact, Reading Bakery Systems, Robesonia, PA, USA. Ph 610-693-5896, Email:

Engineering Tool Box: Scorpion Oven Report. Midwest Bakery Producing Round Snack Crackers. May 2010.