Electrode Boiler Integral to Mar-Jac’s Feed Mill Efficiency


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Chris Smith, feed mill manager, in front of electrode boiler.

Chris Smith, feed mill manager, in front of electrode boiler.

When Mar-Jac Poultry wanted to construct a new 15,000-ton per week feed mill in Maysville, Ga., their primary goal was efficiency.

Mar-Jac chose a location next to a Wayne Farms feed mill to preserve costs otherwise needed to initiate new rail infrastructure. Additionally, Mar-Jac had Younglove Construction LLC design a highly automated mill, requiring only 40 employees to run the mill at full capacity.

However, Tony Gravitt, live operation manager at the mill, says that the component integral to the overall efficiency of the mill is an 800-bhp electrode boiler. Currently, the Mar-Jac feed mill has two natural gas boilers that are going unused (construction of a gas line to the facility is under way) and a liquid petroleum tank that would cost a significant amount to run. According to Gravitt, producers should always look at fuel costs and efficiency rates to determine which fuel to select to run its processes. In doing so, Gravitt found it was a “no brainer” to run the facility exclusively with the electrode boiler this past year.

Mar-Jac credits its willingness to go electric with a positive experience it had with two 300-bhp electric boilers in their previous feed mill. “The options you create with electricity,” Gravitt says, “are worth the heavy infrastructure costs required to install the boiler.” While the initial cost of the boilers was not cheap, Gravitt saw that in the long run, his boilers would pay for themselves in approximately 1.5 years.

Efficiency in the poultry business is paramount. If the production process is not improved to operate efficiently, costs will rise and ultimately, consumers will be asked to pay more at the supermarket – a risk Mar-Jac is not willing to take. The electrode boiler is 99 percent efficient and costs approximately $5,000 a year to maintain. Additionally, its footprint is only 200 square feet, thus freeing up space in the mill.

Ultimately, the Mar-Jac feed mill plans to maximize efficiency by examining fuel switching. Once their gas line is operational, Gravitt plans on doing a cost comparison on which unit to run and when. Because their facility does not run 24 hours per day, it is fairly easy for Mar-Jac to stick with electric on off-peak hours. When they do choose to run gas, Gravitt says the “insurance” in knowing that his electrode boiler is there as a backup is worth every penny.

Photography courtesy of Mar-Jac Poultry.

PoultryTech is published by the Agricultural Technology Research Program (ATRP), Food Processing Technology Division (FPTD) of the Georgia Tech Research Institute. ATRP is conducted in cooperation with the Georgia Poutry Federation with funding from the Georgia Legislature.
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Angela Colar - Editor - angela.colar@gtri.gatech.edu