Energy Efficient Compressed Air Technology – Tips and Tricks

There are many ways to save energy costs in compressed air usage, from production to processing to refining the pipeline system. Start with an in-depth analysis of your current compressed air usage. Energy costs are in excess of 66% of the total cost of ownership.

1. Measure your air consumption

Capture the statistics on your air usage data and analyse it. Find out how much each production area uses. Leaks are the biggest issue and even well-maintained installations can lose up to 30% of the compressed air generated through leaks.

2. Improve compressed air generation efficiency

A compressor only converts approximately 7% of the electrical energy consumption into mechanical expansion energy. The rest is released as waste heat. It is important to find other uses for this waste heat. Divert the waste heat toward heat-driven processes, such as thermal drying, heating buildings, supplying heated consumption water or processing water.

3. Choosing a compressed air station

Know the air quality required and the overall energy consumption to determine whether to choose oil-lubricated or oil-free compressors. For instance, a single-stage, oil-injected screw compressor operates at a lower temperature, providing higher efficiency and is a good choice if you need a compressor of up to 100kW.

For higher quality compressed air, a two-stage screw compressor is a good choice. With an adsorption dryer, it uses the heat to regenerate the drying agent. A two-stage, oil-free piston compressor would be a good choice. They are slightly more efficient than screw compressors and work with a lower no-load loss.

4. Measure network pressure

The required system pressure is often established inaccurately, because there is no testing to see if the maximum pressure level is necessary. There is no need to produce more pressure than can be used. Measure and be sure you are not overproducing pressure.

5. Use only the air treatment needed

Choosing air processing tools that are right for the task is important. An efficient oil-lubricated compressor when what you need is to produce high quality compressed air is inefficient. Any savings are gone in the cost of air processing to achieve the necessary quality. Adding on components such as prefilters, dryers and microfilters reduce system pressure, causing increased energy consumption. Keep an eye on the pressure differential which is the additional pressure needed for added components in a compressed air network. If the differential changes, find out what caused the change.

6. Avoid pipeline network bottlenecks

Any bottleneck in the pipeline causes a line loss which increases energy consumption. Have regular leak inspections and check the pipe cross-sections and connecting elements. If they need to be replaced, do it, but turn off unnecessary pneumatic tools using ball valves first.

7. Optimise the control system

The control system for the compressed air network is crucial in optimising energy consumption. Analyse the existing installation, before choosing a control mechanism. The goal is to avoid idling costs and operate each compressor in the optimal load range.

The better you know your system and its intended purpose, the more optimised you can make it.

As Authorised Distributors for some of the globe’s best air compressor manufacturers, Mid-Tech Compressed Air ltd are best placed to offer energy efficiency audits in Warwickshire and the West Midlands. Taking those findings and ensuring that your installation lives up to expectations. Please call us for further information on 0121 275 2787 or simply click here.

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