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Waupaca Foundry Awarded for Environmental Accomplishments

Oct. 4, 2022
The Wisconsin-based ferrous foundry group has been recognized by federal, state, and trade organizations for its recent efforts to reduce energy consumption and adopt “smart” controls for environmental management.

Ferrous foundry group Waupaca Foundry Inc. has earned three awards from national, state, and industry groups recognizing its commitment to cutting energy consumption, and to finding “smart” ways to use and protect natural resources. Its energy projects included overhauling an air-compressor system at Plant 1 in Waupaca, Wis.; installing a dehumidification system at Plant 5 located in Tell City, Ind.; and adopting a smart exhaust-fan system at Plant 2/3 located in Waupaca, Wis.

“We have been on a corporate-wide mission of sustainability since 2009,” stated Waupaca Foundry director of Environmental Engineering, Bryant Esch. “Reducing our energy consumption and costs has a direct benefit to our customers in terms of producing high quality iron at a competitive price with a reduced environmental footprint.” 

The award from the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Better Plants program recognizes manufacturers for creating and implementing industrial energy and water efficiency projects, as well as renewable energy and energy resiliency projects. The foundry was recognized for completing an extensive upgrade to the Waupaca plant’s air-compressor system that increased energy efficiency and reduced annual energy and water usage.

It is the second time in two years that Waupaca Foundry has been recognized by DoE for its environmental achievements.

Outdated compressors were replaced with new, more efficient models in a new compressor room; improved piping layouts, and captured the waste heat to provide building heating during the colder months. Also, the remaining old compressors were replaced with new high-efficiency units, a master control system was installed, overall air pressure was reduced from 95 to 87 PSI, and operations and maintenance practices improved.

Finally, an ongoing compressor air-leak management program was implemented.

These projects increased overall energy efficiency by 13.5%; reduced energy usage by 18,000 MMBTU / year, the equivalent energy consumed by 20 U.S. single family homes annually; reduced water usage by 13 million gallons of water/year; eliminated 1,240 tCO2, or 1%, of GHG emissions; and energy usage was reduced by 1.1 million kWh.

The second award, the 2022 Green Foundry Sustainability Award, was presented by the American Foundry Society in recognition of the Waupaca Foundry Tell City, IN, plant’s new dehumidification system that significantly reduced energy consumption.

Roof-mounted exhaust fans were installed to run continuously – to remove humidity in order to improve cupola melting efficiency – though temperature variations affected the melt rate. A desiccant wheel was installed to remove water vapor from ambient air, and a smart system that triggered fan use only when sensors detected high levels.

The results of this system are more efficient cupola melting, decreased coke usage, reduced CO2 emissions, and a decrease in overall plant energy usage.

Last, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) association recognized Waupaca Foundry’s environmental innovation with its “Business Friend of the Environment” award in the large business category. The award cites Waupaca Foundry Plant 2/3’s project to install smart controls, to improve efficiency of ventilation equipment.

Six roof-mounted exhaust fans removed heat and circulated air in the summer months, although continuous operation did not adequately address seasonal temperature variation.

The existing fans were automated with temperature and carbon monoxide sensors, so they now operate only when needed ,as defined by temperatures and/or carbon monoxide levels.

These modifications resulted in significant energy savings, reducing annual electricity and natural gas usage, improved workplace ventilation and worker comfort, and ensured CO2 levels were actively monitored. Also, the project implementation costs were low, Waupaca Foundry noted.

The foundry group added that its 2023 sustainability goals are:
 To reduce energy intensity by 5%;
  To reduce the cumulative electrical consumption carbon footprint 30%;
  To maintain air pollution-control systems considered as “best available” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
  To achieve a cumulative 80% beneficial reuse of spent foundry materials; and
  To reduce water use consumption by 10%.