6 Tips to reduce compressed air energy costs


If you have to reduce production at your manufacturing plant, you may welcome the chance to save on energy costs. Here you can find 6 tips to reduce compressed air energy costs whatever your production demands are.

Compressed air accounts for a fair chunk of total energy costs for industrial manufacturers - typically about 12% and maybe as high as 40% in some facilities, so it is an area which could have a big impact. Optimistic shows 6 tips aim to help you reduce your running costs at a difficult time:

1. Reduce unloaded running hours - The first step to optimising energy efficiency is by using these patterns to reduce unloaded running hours. Air demand in an industrial compressed air system typically fluctuates. If you have multiple compressors, then they should have been setup to do this automatically. If there's no central control, the compressor pressure bands should have been set up in a cascade method, and the on-board controllers will stop the machines if they are not needed when the compressed air target pressure is achieved. Leaving the compressor running unloaded after working hours they still use as much as 25% of the energy consumed at full load. And more, if there are leaks in the system, the compressors may switch to loaded running occasionally, consuming even more energy.

2. Eliminate air Leaks - Leakages are the biggest source of energy waste in older compressed air systems, with a leakage point as small as 3mm costing an estimated INR 4667/week in wasted energy. It is estimated that up to 20% of total compressed air consumption may be lost through leaks. we recommend taking the opportunity to detect the leaks in your system. For example, you could run your air compressor with no production to check for leaks. Fixing air leaks will start to save you money immediately, only if you work on site and have some spare time.

3. Reduce the pressure band - A reduction of 1 bar in pressure (14.5 psi) will lead to a 7% saving in electricity consumption, and that's a rule for most compressors. The pressure settings of the compressor should be adjusted until the lowest pressure can be reached and the pressure band reduced without affecting the application. Using a central controller for centralised systems utilising multiple compressors, the network can be set to run within a narrow pressure band which ensures that the compressed air network matches your precise needs. Keep in mind that lowering the system pressure reduces the impact of leaks. A 1 bar pressure reduction decreases the impact of air leaks by 13%.

4. Turn compression heat into useful energy with heat recovery - Without energy recovery, the heat is lost into the atmosphere via the cooling system and radiation. The amount of electrical energy that can be recovered depends on the size of the compressor and the running hours, typical recoveries are between 70-94%. Recovering heat from compressed air reduces the need for purchasing energy, and this reduction results in lower operating costs and CO2 emissions, also reducing your carbon footprint.

5. Ensure the correct type of compressor is installed - Most production processes require different levels of demand in different periods, which may mean that the compressor is running off-load or idle (not producing any compressed air) for long periods of time. Great savings can be made if a fixed speed compressor can be replaced by a variable speed drive unit as it only produces compressed air as and when required. This also minimises offload running of the compressor, which is known to waste energy. As a fixed speed compressor has a fixed amount of motor starts an hour, the compressor runs offload for a set time which limits the number of motor starts to ensure overheating of the motor does not occur
6. Impact of regular maintenance - The best way of taking care of your compressed air availability is by taking the best care of your compressed air equipment. This means investing in regular preventative maintenance, which will sustain the efficiency that you have gained by purchasing a new compressor, or improve the performance of an older unit. Regular servicing will improve your equipment uptime and energy efficiency: the opposite could lead to more downtime, increased energy consumption and potentially a breakdown.

Source: Atlas Copco