Raising the Bar at a Gold Leed Manufacturing Plant

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay facility in Beloit, WI, is already impressively energy-efficient, but its manufacturing team isn’t resting on its laurels. Their most recent heat recovery project is the incorporation of an ECO-MAX adsorption chiller from PPI that, in the summer, will use the waste heat from the potato chip line to air-condition the packaging room. In winter, the waste heat is used to heat the facility.

The 40-year old manufacturing facility, which achieved LEED for Existing Buildings Gold Certification in 2010, pursues a sustainability strategy that includes implementation of a number of green design and construction features, water reduction technologies and practices, improved waste management, and recovery and reuse of heat.

Heat is a precious commodity that is not to be squandered on the northern plains, where winter is bitterly cold. The Beloit Frito-Lay plant, which manufactures about 600 million bags of Lays and Ruffles potato chips, Fritos, Doritos, Tostitos, and Cheetos chips annually, is reusing its heat multiple ways. Initial projects involved the recovery of waste heat produced in its ovens and reuse of it to heat the process cooker, air in the facility, and potable water.

The most recent heat recovery initiative is now under way. The packaging area of the manufacturing plant must be air-conditioned to maintain product quality, and the Beloit team is working with PPI to run a new adsorption chiller with energy from waste heat coming from the potato chip line to cool the packaging area.

“Right now hot glycol is going to the roof to heat the building,” said Mike Stahl, Frito-Lay Beloit Manufacturing Director. “The ECO-MAX adsorption chiller will take the potato chip process waste heat in the summer months and air-condition our packaging room. The chiller will be connected to a chilled water loop on the roof that will go to the packaging HVAC units.”

The waste heat recovery project is part of a plant and global corporate strategy to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gases as part of its broad sustainability plan. In the last ten years, the Beloit Frito-Lay plant has reduced (by percent per pound of finished product produced) its water usage by 50 percent, electrical consumption by 20 percent, and natural gas consumption by 40 percent.

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