Finding Leaks and Saving Money with the Ultrasonic Leak Detector

Locate costly leaks in your compressed air system!  Sounds like the right thing to do.

The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector is a hand-held, high quality instrument that is used to locate costly leaks in a compressed air system.

Ultrasonic sound is the term applied to sound that is above the frequencies of normal human hearing capacity.  This typically begins at sounds over 20,000 Hz in frequency.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector can detect sounds in this upper range and convert them to a range that is audible to people.

When a leak is present, the compressed air moves from the high pressure condition through the opening to the low pressure environment.  As the air passes through the opening, it speeds up and becomes turbulent in flow, and generates ultrasonic sound components. Because the audible sound of a small leak is very low and quiet, it typically gets drowned out by by surrounding plant noises, making leak detection by the human ear difficult if not impossible.

ULD_Pr

Detecting a Leak with the Ultrasonic Leak Detector

By using the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, the background noise can be filtered out and the ultrasonic noises can be detected, thus locating a leakage in the compressed air system. There are (3) sensitivity settings, x1, x10, and x100 along with an on/off thumb-wheel for fine sensitivity.  The unit comes with a parabola and tubular extension for added flexibility.

ULD_Kit

Model 9061 – Ultrasonic Leak Detector and Included Accessories

Finding just one small leak can pay for the unit-

A small leak equivalent to a 1/16″ diameter hole will leak approx 3.8 SCFM at 80 PSIG of line pressure.  Using a reasonable average cost of $0.25 per 1000 SCF of compressed air generation, we can calculate the cost of the leak as follows-

Capture

It is easy to see that utilizing the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, and identifying and fixing leaks is the right thing to do.  It is possible to find and fix enough leaks that a new compressor purchase can be avoided or an auxiliary back-up is not needed any more.

If you have questions regarding the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, or would like to talk about any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Estimating the Cost of Compressed Air Systems Leaks

Leaks in a compressed air system can waste thousands of dollars of electricity per year. In fact, in many plants, the leakage can account for up to 30% of the total operational cost of the compressor. Some of the most common areas where you might find a leak would be at connection joints like valves, unions, couplings, fittings, etc. This not only wastes energy but it can also cause the compressed air system to lose pressure which reduces the end use product’s performance, like an air operated actuator being unable to close a valve, for instance.

One way to estimate how much leakage a system has is to turn off all of the point-of-use devices / pneumatic tools, then start the compressor and record the average time it takes for the compressor to cycle on and off. The total percentage of leakage can be calculated as follows:

Percentage = [(T x 100) / (T + t)]

T = on time in minutes
t = off time in minutes

The percentage of compressor capacity that is lost should be under 10% for a system that is properly maintained.

Another method to calculate the amount of leakage in a system is by using a downstream pressure gauge from a receiver tank. You would need to know the total volume in the system at this point though to accurately estimate the leakage. As the compressor starts to cycle on,  you want to allow the system to reach the nominal operating pressure for the process and record the length of time it takes for the pressure to drop to a lower level. As stated above, any leakage more than 10% shows that improvements could be made in the system.

Formula:

(V x (P1 – P2) / T x 14.7) x 1.25

V= Volumetric Flow (CFM)
P1 = Operating Pressure (PSIG)
P2 =  Lower Pressure (PSIG)
T = Time (minutes)
14.7 = Atmospheric Pressure
1.25 = correction factor to figure the amount of leakage as the pressure drops in the system

Now that we’ve covered how to estimate the amount of leakage there might be in a system, we can now look at the cost of a leak. For this example, we will consider a leak point to be the equivalent to a 1/16″ diameter hole.

A 1/16″ diameter hole is going to flow close to 3.8 SCFM @ 80 PSIG supply pressure. An industrial sized air compressor uses about 1 horsepower of energy to make roughly 4 SCFM of compressed air. Many plants know their actual energy costs but if not, a reasonable average to use is $0.25/1,000 SCF generated.

Calculation :

3.8 SCFM (consumed) x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 divided by 1,000 SCF

= $ 0.06 per hour
= $ 0.48 per 8 hour work shift
= $ 2.40 per 5-day work week
= $ 124.80 per year (based on 52 weeks)

As you can see, that’s a lot of money and energy being lost to just one small leak. More than likely, this wouldn’t be the only leak in the system so it wouldn’t take long for the cost to quickly add up for several leaks of this size.

If you’d like to discuss how EXAIR products can help identify and locate costly leaks in your compressed air system, please contact one of our application engineers at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

 

 

 

Lost In The Din? Not With An Ultrasonic Leak Detector!

Have you ever found yourself in a noisy environment, trying to hear what someone is saying to you? They could speak up, but sometimes that’s not enough. You might find yourself cupping your hand to your ear…this does two things:

*It blocks a lot of the noise from the environment.  This could also be called “filtering” – more on that in a minute.
*It focuses the sound of the speaker’s voice towards your ear.

IMG_1339

“What? They’re ALL still RIGHT behind me?”

Now, this isn’t a perfect solution, but you’ll likely have much better luck with this in a busy restaurant than, say, at a rock concert. Especially if it’s The Who…those guys are LOUD (vintage loud). If you’re at one of their concerts, whatever your friend has to say can probably wait.

You know what else can be loud?  Industrial workplaces.  Heavy machinery, compressed air leaks, cranes, forklifts, power tools, cranky supervisors/personnel…there are lots of unpleasant but necessary (mostly) sources of sound and noise, right here, where we work.

In the middle of all this, your supervisor might just task you with finding – and eliminating – compressed air leaks…like the person I talked to on the phone this morning.  This is where our Ultrasonic Leak Detector comes in: in places with high noise levels, it could be difficult (if not downright impossible) to hear air leaks.

Most of that noise from the machinery, cranes, etc., is in the “audible” range, which simply means that it’s of a frequency that our ears can pick up.  In a quiet room, you could likely hear an air leak…all but the very smallest ones will make a certain amount of noise…but when a compressed fluid makes its way out of a tortuous path to atmospheric pressure, gets turbulent, and creates an ultrasonic sound it is a frequency that our ears CAN’T pick up on.

Not only does the Ultrasonic Leak Detector pick up on this ultrasonic sound, it can also block (or “filter”) the audible sound out.  It comes with a parabola and a tubular extension so you can hone right in on the area, and then the exact location, of the leak.

If you’d like to find out more about compressed air leak detection, how much you might be able to save by fixing leaks, or how this could make your supervisor a bit less cranky (no guarantees on that last one,) give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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IMG_1339 courtesy of Rich Hanley  Creative Commons License

Back To The Basics (of compressed air)…And The Track

The past several weeks I have been finding myself doing things the more complicated way (I  know how that sounds odd – an engineer that prefers to do things the hard way). Over the weekend I took a brief ride on the motorcycle for a short 15 minute trip that I found to be satisfying, even if it is less direct and a more out-of-the-way route for getting my errands complete.   The route runs past the local university of Mount Saint Joseph, down a winding road that has no houses and only one business, the rest is all woods and a creek.  Finally, this route runs along the mighty Ohio river and back up a steep winding road near my house.

While I have been worrying about all the projects and errands which need to be completed, this more complicated route gives me a moment to decompress and remember that my family at home and few other things are all I need.  Once  I was reminded of that and got some perspective which allowed me to “keep calm and carry on” I proceeded to break my projects and errands down into smaller pieces and everything will start to come together.

I now have a to do list at home as well as a refreshed list at EXAIR of all the items I need to do.   The list at home is considerably more fun as it all involves getting my “new to me” track bike ready for this season.  20140506_134512That’s right, it’s right around the corner, the first track weekend of 2014.  So expect to see some more motorcycle blogs coming and hopefully more ways to use EXAIR products while working on them. It was these newly developed lists that helped me reorganize and get back on track for the new season, sometimes a list is necessary in order to gain perspective, prioritize and begin to take action.

On that note, EXAIR has a list to help you gain perspective, prioritize and take some action toward getting your compressed air system optimized. Our systematic approach using the Six Steps To Compressed Air Optimization has been developed to help you save your compressed air,your hearing, and your money. By following these steps you can lower your compressed air use, minimize workplace noise exposure (OSHA will be happy) and save money on this important utility.

6 steps

 

If you have ever thought of reducing your compressed air costs, use our list to help you gain perspective on this simple process and take some positive steps toward saving your facility some money.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Find Leaks, Fix Leaks, Keep Running

A true value in our Optimization Products line, the Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector can more than pay for itself inside of a year, if only used to find one small leak:

ULD savings

Of course, you don’t want to stop there. Given its ease of use, plus the effects of vibration, temperature changes, and time on pressurized threaded connections, it’s altogether likely that you’ll find at least a few uses for it. In fact, incorporating the Ultrasonic Leak Detector into a periodic maintenance inspection will allow you to find new leaks before they can do too much damage to your bottom line. Remember, they won’t fix themselves.  There was once a company that saved a million cubic feet of compressed air per year (spoiler alert:  it was us.)

I just had the pleasure of talking to an Ultrasonic Leak Detector user whose primary concern wasn’t related to saving compressed air. The facility’s fire suppression system was pressurized with compressed air, and was losing pressure very slowly. This was activating the recharging cycle on a regular basis, and, due to the critical nature of the system, it reached a point where it was recharging too often to be acceptable.

In the past, they either had to secure the system and perform a hydrostatic test – which required them to shut down production as well, because they processed flammable materials and couldn’t continue operation without the fire suppression system on line – or conduct “soap bubble” tests, which are time consuming and messy.

The Ultrasonic Leak Detector enabled them to quickly and easily find the leaks, which were repaired during normal production off-time. If you want to find a compressed air leak – for whatever reason – give us a call…we’ve got what you’re looking for.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: www.exair.com
Email: russbowman@exair.com
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair

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