Compressed air networks

Wednesday July 3, 2013

Compressed air networks Five tips to save energy

You know better than anybody that compressed air is responsible for significant industrial energy costs. This is why it is paramount to identify sources of waste so as to prevent unnecessary costs for the company.

 


1.     Reduce air leaks

Air leaks can represent one of the major causes of energy waste. In industry, these losses can amount to 20% to 30% of the compressor’s output, hence the need to perform a thorough check every two years to locate and seal affected areas.

 

Here is an example of the annual costs that can result from these leaks:

 

Source: Hydro-Québec


2.    Lower the system's pressure

The compressed air network’s pressure is often set at the compressor's maximum capacity, i.e. 110 psi. However, most equipment does not require such pressure to operate. Therefore, it is possible to save energy by setting the compressor’s pressure at 80-90 psi. In the event that some equipment needs more air pressure, it can be beneficial to reconfigure the compressed air network using two individual compressors at different pressures.

 

3.    Use air from outside

During the winter, outside air is, of course, colder and denser than indoor air. However, dense air is much easier to compress than air at room temperature. If the compressor(s) is/are next to an exterior wall, it could be beneficial to supply them with outside air using an air intake, which would result in additional energy savings.


4.    Zero-air-loss purge drain

All compressors are equipped with air purges to drain off the water held inside the tank. Most drains are activated by a timer that opens the drain at regular intervals during a specific period of time. Unfortunately, this procedure allows a large volume of air to escape (and therefore be wasted). A new drainage technology has existed for several years that allows water to be drained off without any air loss.


5.    Variable-speed compressor

Unlike fixed-speed compressors, variable-speed compressors help regulate the air flow rate based on factory demand. By opting for this type of machine, it is possible to reduce energy costs considerably.


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