Energy Innovation: Delivering More Tomatoes to Your Table

March 20, 2018

In bottles of ketchup and jars of sauce, from the supermarket shelf to the dinner table, there’s a good chance the most basic ingredient—the tomato—begins its transformation at one of the three California facilities of The Morning Star Company in Merced and Colusa counties. Picking, inspecting and shipping is only the beginning. It takes a lot of work to turn today’s tomatoes into tomorrow's marinara—and like most any production process, care must be taken to manage emissions, minimize environmental impact and operate sustainably. That’s where John Zink Hamworthy Combustion, a Koch company, comes in. For more than two decades, Morning Star has relied on the equipment of JZHC to control its emissions, keeping on top of growing regulatory standards with innovative technology.

A John Zink Hamworthy Combustion (JZHC) welder works on equipment used to control emissions, much like Morning Star uses.

A JZHC welder works on equipment used to control emissions, much like Morning Star uses. Photo taken by Reed Young. 

Founded in 1970 by Chris Rufer as a one-truck operation hauling tomatoes to other canneries, Morning Star today accounts for more than a quarter of the California processing tomato operation while supplying about 40 percent of the United States’ tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Morning Star is but one of many businesses and operations worldwide utilizing JZHC’s technology to reduce emissions and create higher-quality products to help people improve their lives.

The impact is clear. Through partnership with JZHC and installation of its pollution prevention technology, Morning Star’s facility in Colusa County decreased total NOx emissions (nitrous oxides that contribute to air pollution) even while doubling its capacity. In just one year, the facility reduced its NOx emissions by 1,600 pounds—the equivalent mass of about 2,000 cans of tomato soup—despite doubling its hourly steam capacity from 680,000 pounds per hour to more than 1.3 million pounds per hour. Morning Star boiler operator and emissions compliance manager Jon Ikerd said that through a more robust burner and in collaboration with JZHC senior process engineer Steve Bortz and senior engineer Craig Biles, “the company has achieved both lower emissions and greater boiler efficiency.”

Infographic about stat which states that: In just one year, processing capacity more than doubled, while NOx emissions decreased by 1,600 pounds. That

“It’s a fact that our company benefits from every visit paid by JZHC’s representatives,” Ikerd said. “Not only do we save money, but we’re operating more efficiently and sustainably.” Combined efforts from JZHC’s Bortz and Biles have also led to increased savings and reduced operating costs over the last two years alone, Ikerd added.

As the company has grown, so too have the state’s regulatory requirements. The 1990s brought demand for greater reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions. More recently, California mandated greenhouse gas reporting and compliance standards, which have also grown more stringent over time. Crediting JZHC for its equipment solutions, expertise and analysis, Ikerd said the relationship has been mutually beneficial.

“Morning Star Company’s success is just one example of how JZHC’s pollution prevention technology has improved operations across companies in industries around the world,” said David H. Koch, executive vice president of Koch Chemical Technology Group, who helped lead the company’s acquisition in the late 1980s. “We are focused on refining and growing our capabilities so that we can continue these mutually beneficial relationships.”

At its Colusa County facility alone, Ikerd said the two boilers using more advanced emissions prevention technology, in combination with modifications to the four older models’ operating parameters, have been able to achieve similiar compliance obligations as before the expansion.

“I'm looking at the old boilers and wishing they would go away,” Ikerd said.