Improving Energy Efficiency in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Operations

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Pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in the U.S. spend nearly $1 billion each year for the fuel and electricity they need to keep their facilities running (Figure 1, below). That total that can increase dramatically when fuel supplies tighten and oil prices rise, as they did last year.

Improving energy efficiency should be a strategic goal for any plant manager or manufacturing professional working in the drug industry today. Not only can energy efficiency reduce overall manufacturing costs, it usually reduces environmental emissions, establishing a strong foundation for a corporate greenhouse-gas-management program.

For most pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is typically the largest consumer of energy, as shown in Table 1 below.

This two-part series will examine energy use within pharmaceutical facilities, summarize best practices and examine potential savings and return on investment. In this first article, we will focus on efficient use of motors, drives and pumps, both for process equipment and compressed air systems. Part 2, to be published in May, will focus on overall HVAC systems, building management and boilers.

Research in this article was first published last September, in an extensive report developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories for the Energy Star Pharmaceutical Focus. Established in January 2005, this group of pharmaceutical industry corporate energy managers is working to develop resources and tools to foster improved energy efficiency within the industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also working with Argonne National Laboratory to develop an energy performance benchmarking tool for pharmaceutical plants (see "Will Pharma Wear the Energy Star?"). For more information, please visit

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