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Refrigeration and Beer presents a challenge for Engineering Student

Foster’s committed focus to energy management has produced a challenging and interesting thermal management project for QUT Engineering student Rhys Markun.

There is no better testament to Foster’s ongoing investment in energy efficiency, than the
Yatala brewery
, which is the most energy efficient site in the Foster’s Group and one of the most energy efficient in the world.  State of the art tools continually monitor the current status of the plant with an advanced real time supervisory plant control system enabling the plant operators, managers and engineers to make informed decisions on particular operations around the site, based on real-time data.

An advanced Utilities Management System (UMS) has been developed at the Yatala brewery. It is a sophisticated system that has been developed on the G2 real-time intelligent system platform.  It has connections to numerous databases and all of the networked Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) on the site. It’s automated analysis and notification capabilities assist plant operators, managers and engineers to manage plant operations and energy consumption.

Between twenty five and forty percent of Foster's Yatala brewery is consumed by refrigeration.  The UMS monitors the performance of the refrigeration system and facilitates efficient operation.  The brewery's six chilled cellars maintain the product at lowered temperatures during key stages of the brewing process.

Rhys Markun (CEED student) at Foster's Australia (Yatala brewery) 
 Pictured above:  Rhys Markun (CEED student) inside the refrigerated
 cellars during his project at Foster's Australia - Yatala brewery

Foster’s wanted to identify opportunities to minimise the energy consumption of the refrigerated cellars at the Yatala brewery.  

Having worked with CEED on a variety of other projects, they put forward a scope for this project and engaged Rhys Markun, a final year Bachelor of Engineering (First Major Mechanical and second Major Management) student, who started in December 2009. 

Rhys is the seventh CEED student that Mick Lees (Yatala brewery’s Process Automation Manager) has supervised over the last six years. The majority of the previous projects have also been related to energy management and sustainability. Overall the students have achieved some excellent results across a range of challenging projects.

“Rhys has scaled a number of learning curves in a short period of time. Although it is a challenging project, Rhys has been working hard and is on track to produce some good results”, said Mick.

The results will provide useful input into the company’s energy management planning and could potentially impact on future energy optimisation projects in the refrigeration area.”

The project has recently been extended by two months due to some unexpected delays in the project’s implementation including the procurement of specialist equipment.

Now in his seventh month of working on the project (including his summer vacation period), Rhys said that it has so far been a highly valuable and intensive experience. 

“I really wanted to get some mechanical experience and working with Foster’s on this project has been a great opportunity to add industry based experience to my CV,” said Rhys.

I have had the chance to actually apply what I have learnt through my degree at QUT, such as working out heat transfer calculations based on real world data.  The structure of CEED projects means that I am also doing actual project management – getting quotes, scheduling and troubleshooting.”

Throughout the project Rhys has been involved in looking at the energy mass balance in all the cellars through gathering energy and production data.  Information contained in the balance is being used to quantify the energy and mass transfers within each of the chilled areas.  Foster’s benefit from knowing each process’ energy consumption – this knowledge allows them to see where the largest opportunity areas lie.

“By investigating any energy being lost due to inefficiencies in the chilled areas, we are identifying what may be controlled - possibly with little or no capital expenditure,” said Rhys.

This will then form the basis of recommendations that may be made to improve the system as a whole, such as through improvements to work flow, current processes and procedures.

Rhys added that a practical bonus for him in working on the project has been improving his technical and report writing skills for the types of documents he needs to prepare as an engineer.

“I have a great supervisor at Foster’s who with an academic background himself, has spent the time mentoring me around my writing, such as improved proof reading and drafting reports and recommendations.”

“I thought I was in trouble when I first started and my original project plan was returned barely without a sentence that didn’t have suggested amendments!

“But I have realised how important succinct writing in engineering is and it has certainly made it easier for me over the last few months in putting together my thesis,” said Rhys. 

It’s a skill I’ve gained that I can apply for the rest of my career.”

Rhys is on track to complete his CEED project in July.


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