Katia Bernal
CEO
CITRUS
/
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Breaking Restrictive Paradigms in Industrial Processes

By Cas Biekmann | Wed, 09/09/2020 - 16:30

Q: How did CITRUS initiate operations in Mexico?

A: The idea for CITRUS originated from the work at our original manufacturing plant, where we produced stainless steel processing equipment for the food, beverages, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Such industrial process equipment This entailed stainless steel tanks, allowing industrial players to produce thousands of liters of any product. The tanks can be heated, primarily through steam, which can be generated by a variety of energy sources.

We have been in busines for over 50 years and have been in contact with the industry and its processes using heat. Oil and gas are the primary resources that generate power. Approximately six years ago, we realized that the next step was to transform heat generation with new technologies. After all, we cannot depend fully on fossil fuels.

How CITRUS got started is a famous story among the company’s employees. Seven years ago, CITRUS was still selling process equipment to a food manufacturer. However, the manufacturer told us that his real concern was not having access to reliable energy where his processing plant was located. This was a tough argument for me to swallow. I later found out manufacturers often get their energy from whatever source is available at that moment. It was clear that our company had to address this problem with a holistic solution including energy generation synchronized with our process equipment. Our engineering team worked to bring clean and reliable energy supply into industrial processes, focusing on solar heat collection to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. We managed this by implementing parabolic solar collectors.

Over the last seven years we have finetuned our engineering allowing us to effectively synchronize renewable heat generation technologies with process equipment to achieve the most clean and efficient industrial process available. This is one of our specialties and an added value we offer Mexico’s industry. As an engineering company we carefully study at our client’s process requirements, energy profile where after the appropriate solar heat technology is selected. Synchronization without adversely impacting the client’s production process is crucial.

 

Q: How has the company’s portfolio of solutions evolved over time?

A: We understood that addressing the aspect of energy efficiency is a pre-condition before proposing an energy generation solution.  Therefore, we developed an industrial “Energy check-up” product. We run a checklist of important elements at manufacturing plants that must be addressed in order to avoid energy losses.

It is quite a simple process compared to lengthy diagnoses and delivers points for revision, which can be implemented by the clients’ maintenance staff. We tell them exactly what to do and how much energy they can save with minimal investment. The Check-ups can be done for electrical systems in the heating lines or in the cooling systems.

We offer more intricate services in a second phase. In some cases, a re-engineering of production processes might be needed because inefficiencies go beyond simple fixes, and this represents a higher investment. Most companies are willing to implement energy generation solutions to produce solar heat after our first phase Check-up. This makes sense because energy generation reaches optimal efficiency and becomes cheaper to implement if you have already fixed previous issues.

To improve our overall value proposition to our customers we created a “CITRUS Industrial Ecosystem.” This refers to our portfolio of solutions that deal with efficiency and energy generation. This year, we are adding energy storage to our solutions. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with a Swedish listed company called Azelio. In collaboration with them, we will implement the cleanest battery-based storage solution available on the market today. This allows us to provide renewable energy 27/4 at minimal costs. Finally, we offer efficient production with our stainless-steel process equipment line. Our ecosystem allows us to provide highly efficient holistic industrial solutions, which minimizes energy losses while synchronizing the energy generation technologies with the process equipment.  Everything we do is based on the analysis of our clients’ activities.

 

Q: From which industries does CITRUS experience the highest demand for its solutions?

A: Traditionally, our customers are producers of food and beverages. However, in the past two years, we have been getting more calls from companies that produce self-care and home-care products. Demand for these products also has increased as a result of the pandemic. Some of these companies are even transforming their production line to produce high-demand cleaning and sanitization products. These companies cannot afford to have inefficient production processes, so we can provide them with energy efficient solutions at an attractive ROI.

 

Q: How will Mexican companies benefit from CITRUS and Azelio’s storage solution?

A: When you examine storage technology you will notice that it is rapidly evolving. We all seek to reduce battery costs but we have to be conscious about the resulting ecological footprint. Lithium’s impact is not as low as it could be, for instance. Through our partnership with Azelio, we can now implement technology allowing our clients to have cheap renewable energy in storage for up to 13 hours. Production can therefore take place at night, which was impossible up until now with storage solutions because they only provided up to five hours of energy. The technology relies on thermal dynamics. Aluminum is heated up to 600°C. When power is required, heat is transferred to a Stirling engine through a heat transfer fluid. The engine can then provide electricity at nominal power, as well as heat water between 50°C and 65°C for further efficiency. This coincides with our vision to empower companies to be energy independent and have more control over their production processes. 

 

Q: What are CITRUS’ main goals for 2020 and 2021?

A: We rely on three objectives that are considered pillars to build the future of the company.

Our first key objective is to continue consolidating our CITRUS “dream team,” made up of colleagues. We believe that our employees are key assets of the company. With a fully motivated team that has all the necessary tools available we are confident we can address and exceed on the challenges that lies ahead. We want our colleagues to feel proud to be part of this journey, to foster a cleaner and more energy efficient industry in Mexico and around the world.

Secondly, we provide services for our customers in a personal manner. We are committed to developing long-term relationships with every single customer. We want to fully know our customers individually and help them reach their goals. Their objectives become our objectives.

Thirdly, we also aim to promote Azelio’s storage solution in Mexico. Our agreement became a reality only three months ago. We have a great deal of preparation to do regarding the first project for next year. We are working to introduce these solutions to the mining and oil and gas sectors.  The tourism sector could benefit greatly from it as well. The paradigm that storage is expensive needs to be broken: it is affordable now, which we want to prove and communicate through our projects.

 

CITRUS implements a variety of services for customers in the industrial and commercial segments, such as solar solutions to generate heat and ba.ttery storage. It has strong engineering experience, which it uses to deliver turnkey energy-efficient projects.

Photo by:   MB
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst