US utility Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) has successfully tested a new technology that uses far less energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves money.

The new industrial drying technology has been tested in partnership with the Gas Technology Institute, uses 61 to 65% less natural gas, 40% less electricity and recovers a substantial amount of water, compared to existing industrial dryers.

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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.

The 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 pilot was funded by the Utilization Technology Development and the California Energy Commission.

Yuri Freedman, senior director of business development at SoCalGas, said: “This is yet another example of quickly evolving natural gas technology that benefits many industries and businesses while positively impacting the environment.”

The project is part of efforts by SoCalGas to increase the number of technologies available to help consumers reduce their energy costs.

Between 2014 and 2018, SoCalGas energy efficiency programmes 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 programmes saved customers $57 million.

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Nicholas Nhede
Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.