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Marathon Petroleum Corp: EPA recognizes Robinson refinery for one of the 12 Top Projects in energy efficiency


Using steam to lower electricity demand and emissions has earned a Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) refinery recognition from companies inside and outside the refining industry. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent ENERGY STAR® Industrial Partner Meeting showcased a steam turbine optimization project at MPC’s Robinson, Illinois, refinery as one of the 12 Top Projects for energy efficiency this year across the country’s industrial sector.

The project resulted from the refinery’s analysis of possible ways to further improve its energy efficiency, which determined the site was underutilizing a compressor turbine. This machine uses high-pressure steam to assist in starting up a major process unit and then sends medium-pressure exhaust steam throughout the refinery to provide thermal energy that helps meet a variety of refinery needs.

The refinery is in a region served largely by coal-fired power plants, meaning this project is equivalent to eliminating the burning of 2.8 million pounds of coal a year.

In the past, the turbine routinely operated at a steam flow rate of 75,000 pounds per hour. By raising the turbine’s steam flow rate to its maximum capacity of 100,000 pounds per hour, the refinery increased the amount of exhaust steam available as an energy supply, lowering the site’s demand for purchased electricity by 630 kilowatt-hours. Annually, this reduction will avoid almost 2,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions that would have been associated with generating the electricity and save an estimated $325,000.

At the ENERGY STAR meeting, Robinson Sustainability Coordinator and Refining Engineer Barret Von Behren presented an overview of the project.

“Our refinery is in a region where the electric grid is supplied largely by coal-fired power plants,” Von Behren said. “The reduction in our demand for purchased electricity is equivalent to eliminating the burning of 2.8 million pounds of coal a year.”

The Top Projects featured at the ENERGY STAR Industrial Partner Meeting are selected by attendees of the annual event. They include representatives of companies from as many as 20 different industries that range from cement manufacturing and dairy processing to petroleum refining, printing and steel manufacturing. All the companies participate in the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, which provides tools and informational resources to partner businesses to help them identify the best approaches to reducing their energy use.

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