Compressed Air and Pneumatic Systems

Compressed Air Pipe

Compressed air is used to operate pneumatic systems in a facility, and it can be segregated into three main sections; the supply side, the demand side, and the distribution system.  The supply side is the air compressor, after-cooler, dryer, and receiver tank that produce and treat the compressed air.  They are generally found in a compressor room.  The demand side is a collection of devices that will use the compressed air to do “work”.  These pneumatic components are generally scattered throughout the facility.  To connect the supply side to the demand side, a distribution system is required.  Distribution systems are pipes or tubes which carry compressed air from the air compressor to the pneumatic devices.  The three sections have to work together to make an effective and efficient system.

Compressed air is a clean utility that is used in many different ways, and it is much safer than electrical or hydraulic systems.  But most people think that compressed air is free, and it is most certainly not.  Because of the cost, compressed air is considered to be a fourth utility in manufacturing plants.  For an electrical motor to reduce a volume of air by compressing it, it takes roughly 1 horsepower (746 watts) to compress 4 cubic feet (113L) of air every minute to 125 PSI (8.5 bar).  With almost every manufacturing plant in the world utilizing air compressors larger than 1 horsepower, the amount of energy needed is extraordinary.

Let’s determine the energy cost to operate an air compressor by Equation 1:

Equation 1:

Cost = hp * 0.746 * hours * rate / (motor efficiency)

where:

Cost – US$

hp – horsepower of motor

0.746 – conversion KW/hp

hours – running time

rate – cost for electricity, US$/KWh

motor efficiency – average for an electric motor is 95%.

As an example, a manufacturing plant operates a 100 HP air compressor in their facility.  The cycle time for the air compressor is roughly 60%.  To calculate the hours of running time per year, I used 250 days/year at 16 hours/day.  So operating hours equal 250 * 16 * 0.60 = 2,400 hours per year.  The electrical rate for this facility is $0.10/KWh. With these factors, the annual cost to run the air compressor can be calculated by Equation 1:

Cost = 100hp * 0.746 KW/hp * 2,400hr * $0.10/KWh / 0.95 = $18,846 per year in electrical costs.

Filters and Regulator

If we look at the point-of-use or demand side, the compressed air is generally conditioned to be used to run and control the pneumatic system.  The basic units include filters, regulators, and lubricators.  The filters are used to remove any oil, water, vapor, and pipe scale to keep your pneumatic system clean.  They fall into different types and categories depending on the cleanliness level required.

Filter Separators are more of a coarse filtration which will capture liquid water, oil, and particulate.  The Oil Removal Filters are more of a fine filtration which can capture particles down to 0.03 micron.  They are also designed to “coalesce” the small liquid particles into larger droplets for gravity removal.  One other group is for removing oil vapor and smell.  This type of filter uses activated charcoal to adsorb the vapor for food and pharmaceutical industries.  Filters should be placed upstream of regulators.

Pressure Regulators change the pressure downstream for safety and control.  Pneumatic devices need both flow and pressure to work correctly.  The lubricator, which is placed after the Regulator, helps to add clean oil in a compressed air line.  Air tools, cylinders, and valves use the oil to keep seals from wearing with dynamic functions.  Once the compressed air is “ready” for use, then it is ready to do many applications.

For EXAIR, we manufacture products that use the compressed air safely, efficiently, and effectively.  EXAIR likes to use the 5-C’s; Coat, Clean, Cool, Convey and Conserve.  We have products that can do each part with 16 different product lines.  EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983.  Compressed air is an expensive system to operate pneumatic systems; but, with EXAIR products, you can save yourself much money.  If you need alternative ways to decrease electrical cost, improve safety, and increase productivity when using compressed air, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab: A Service Providing ROI

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

Have you ever stood at a dealership wondering what car to buy?  You have a variety of things to consider like safety, gas mileage, quality and price.  But what if the dealership had a professional race car driver to test each car for you and give you a detailed report about each one?  That would definitely help you to make a better choice.  At EXAIR, we are that professional driver when it comes to compressed air products.

EXAIR has been manufacturing compressed air products since 1983, and we created a culture of making high quality products that are safe, effective, and very efficient.  Since we stand by our products, we created a program called the Efficiency Lab.  This program is to compare your current pneumatic blow-off device with an EXAIR engineered product.  We generate a detailed report to send to you for review.  It is a free service that EXAIR provides for U.S. and Canadian companies to “test drive” your current pneumatic blow-off items.

Why do we offer this?  Air Compressors use a lot of electrical power and are considered to be a fourth utility within plants and industries.  Many people do not realize the cost and safety concerns when using improper blow-off devices.  As an example, if you look at a single 1/8” open pipe for blowing compressed air, it can cost you over $2,000 a year to operate.  This will add to your overhead and cut profits.  Another reason to consider your blow-off device is that compressed air can be dangerous.  With that same 1/8” open pipe, it can violate OSHA standards in noise exposure and dead-end pressure.  In deciding your “vehicle” for blowing compressed air, cheap is not the best option.  In reference to my analogy above, it would be like buying a car that gets 3 MPG with faulty brakes.

With our Efficiency Lab, it is quite simple to do.  For starters, you can go to our Product Efficiency Survey on our website to give the conditions for testing.  If you wish for a side by side analysis, you can place your pneumatic device in a box and send it to EXAIR.  We will run the tests at the specified conditions or in a range of settings.  We will then return your pneumatic device back to you at our cost with a detailed report of the comparison.  Your information will be confidential, and we will not share it without your permission.  Many customers like to use this report to show managers, executives, HSE, etc. on the improvements that EXAIR can provide in cost savings and safety.

How do we do the Efficiency Lab?  We use calibrated equipment and standardized procedures to test for noise levels, flow usage, and force measurements.  We will recommend an EXAIR engineered solution as a replacement to your current device to do the comparison.  With the analytical information, we can also figure the total amount of air savings, return on investment, payback period and safety improvements.

Don’t be fooled; not all blow off devices are the same.  You do not want to sacrifice safety, time, and money with a sub-standard product.  Let EXAIR solve this dilemma with our free service; the Efficiency Lab.  As the expert in this industry, you can get a detailed report with a comparison analysis to make a great choice.  “Vroom Vroom!”

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Picture: Checkered Flag by OpenClipart-VectorsPixabay License

Flat Super Air Nozzles

 

EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles provide a 1” or 2” wide airstream with hard-hitting force. All of EXAIR’s Flat Super Nozzles adhere to OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure, providing a safe and efficient method of delivering a strong blast of air.

The flow and force from the Flat Super Air Nozzle is adjustable by regulating the pressure supplied to it as well as by installing different thicknesses of shims. Thicker shims provide more force and flow, while a thinner shim will reduce the force and flow as well as the overall air consumption. This makes the Flat Super Air Nozzle and ideal solution for applications that may require variable force for different applications.

The nozzles are also available in your very own Blowoff System that can be customized to fit the exact application. You have the ability to put together the best combination of nozzle, Stay Set Hose, and Magnetic Base to suit your needs. Available with either a single or dual Magnetic Base and any of our Stay Set Hoses, there’s many different possibilities. To begin:

  1. Select the Air Nozzle you’ll need.

EXAMPLE: HP1125SS 2” High Power Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzle

  1. Then select the length of Stay Set Hose. They’re available in lengths ranging from 6”-36”.

EXAMPLE: An HP1125SS with a 24” Stay Set Hose would be an HP1125SS-9224.

  1. Finally, you have the option to also select a Magnetic Base if necessary. These are available with either a one outlet Magnetic Base, or Two Outlet which would include (2) separate nozzles. For a single outlet, change the second digit of the “added on” dash number to a “3”. For a two outlet, change that number to a “4”.

 EXAMPLE: An HP1125SS with 24” Stay Set Hose and Dual Magnetic Base is a Model HP1125SS-9424.

bok_1122-9412_400

This allows you to customize the solution using ANY nozzle and ANY length Stay Set Hose, creating a custom solution for your application. If you’d like to talk about any of our Super Air Nozzles and which would be best for your application, feel free to give us a call.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD