Replacing a 1/4″ Open Copper Tube With a 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle Leads To Quick ROI

The generation of compressed air accounts for approximately 1/3 of all energy costs in an industrial facility and up to 30% of that compressed air is wasted through inefficient operation. Open pipes or homemade blowoffs waste a ton of compressed air, resulting in high operating costs. By replacing these devices with an energy efficient, engineered solution, you can reduce this waste and dramatically cut energy costs.

For example, let’s look at the average operating costs for a single 1/4″ open copper tube. (If you don’t know you current energy costs, a reasonable average to use is $ 0.25 per every 1,000 SCF used, based on $ 0.08/kWh.

1/4″ Copper tube

A single 1/4″ open copper tube consumes 33 SCFM @ 80 PSIG and costs roughly $ 0.50 per hour to operate. (33 SCF x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1,000 = $ 0.50). For an 8 hour shift, the total cost would be $ 4.00 ($ 0.50 x 8 hours = $ 4.00).

If we were to replace the 1/4″ open copper tube with our Model # 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with 1/4″ FNPT inlet, the air consumption would be reduced to 21.8 SCFM @ 80 PSIG. This may not seem like much of an air usage reduction, but when you look at the monetary, total cost of ownership for purchasing and operating the nozzle, the savings can quickly add up.

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

The operating cost for a 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with 1/4″ FNPT inlet is $ 0.33 per hour (21.8 SCF x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1,000 = $ .033) or $ 2.64 per 8 hour shift ($ 0.33 x 8 hours = $ 2.64).

We can now compare the operational cost between the 2 devices:

1/4″ open copper tube operating costs:
$ 0.50 per hour
$ 4.00 per day (8 hours)

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle operating costs:
$ 0.33 per hour
$ 2.64 per day (8 hours)

Cost Savings:
$ 4.00 / day (open copper tube) –  $ 2.64 / day (2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle) = $ 1.36 savings per day

The Model # 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle has a list price $ 67.00 USD.

ROI or Return On Investment calculation:
$ 67.00 (Cost) / $ 1.36 (savings per day) = 49.26 days.

The 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle would pay for itself in just over 49 days in operation. This is the savings for replacing just ONE 1/4″ open copper tube with an engineered solution! In most industrial plants, there could be several of these which presents even more opportunities to reduce the overall operational costs.

Our focus here at EXAIR is to improve the overall efficiency of industrial compressed air operating processes and point of use compressed air operated products. If you are looking to reduce compressed air usage in your facility, contact an application engineer and let us help you optimize your current system.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Intelligent Compressed Air: Distribution Piping

air compressor

An important component of your compressed air system is the distribution piping. The piping will be the “veins” that connect your entire facility to the compressor. Before installing pipe, it is important to consider how the compressed air will be consumed at the point of use. Some end use devices must have adequate ventilation. For example, a paint booth will need to be installed near an outside wall to exhaust fumes. Depending on the layout of your facility, this may require long piping runs.  You’ll need to consider the types of fittings you’ll use, the size of the distribution piping, and whether you plan to add additional equipment in the next few years. If so, it is important that the system is designed to accommodate any potential expansion. This also helps to compensate for potential scale build-up (depending on the material of construction) that will restrict airflow through the pipe.

The first thing you’ll need to do is determine your air compressor’s maximum CFM and the necessary operating pressure for your point of use products. Keep in mind, operating at a lower pressure can dramatically reduce overall operating costs. Depending on a variety of factors (elevation, temperature, relative humidity) this can be different than what is listed on directly on the compressor. (For a discussion of how this impacts the capacity of your compressor, check out one of my previous blogs – Intelligent Compressed Air: SCFM, ACFM, ICFM, CFM – What do these terms mean?) Once you’ve determined your compressor’s maximum CFM, draw a schematic of the necessary piping and list out the length of each straight pipe run. Determine the total length of pipe needed for the system. Using a graph or chart, such as this one from Engineering Toolbox. Locate your compressor’s capacity on the y-axis and the required operating pressure along the x-axis. The point at which these values meet will be the recommended MINIMUM pipe size. If you plan on future expansion, now is a good time to move up to the next pipe size to avoid any potential headache.

Once you’ve determined the appropriate pipe size, you’ll need to consider how everything will begin to fit together. According to the “Best Practices for Compressed Air Systems” from the Compressed Air Challenge, the air should enter the compressed air header at a 45° angle, in the direction of flow and always through wide-radius elbows. A sharp angle anywhere in the piping system will result in an unnecessary pressure drop. When the air must make a sharp turn, it is forced to slow down. This causes turbulence within the pipe as the air slams into the insides of the pipe and wastes energy. A 90° bend can cause as much as 3-5 psi of pressure loss. Replacing 90° bends with 45° bends instead eliminates unnecessary pressure loss across the system.

Pressure drop through the pipe is caused by the friction of the air mass making contact with the inside walls of the pipe. This is a function of the volume of flow through the pipe. Larger diameter pipes will result in a lower pressure drop, and vice versa for smaller diameter pipes. The chart below from the “Compressed Air and Gas Institute Handbook” provides the pressure drop that can be expected at varying CFM for 2”, 3”, and 4” ID pipe.

pressure drop in pipe

You’ll then need to consider the different materials that are available. Some different materials that you’ll find are: steel piping (Schedule 40) both with or without galvanizing, stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and even some plastic piping systems are available.

While some companies do make plastic piping systems, plastic piping is not recommended to be used for compressed air. Some lubricants that are present in the air can act as a solvent and degrade the pipe over time. PVC should NEVER be used as a compressed air distribution pipe. While PVC piping is inexpensive and versatile, serious risk can occur when using with compressed air. PVC can become brittle with age and will eventually rupture due to the stress. Take a look at this inspection report –  an automotive supply store received fines totaling $13,200 as a result of an injury caused by shrapnel from a PVC pipe bursting.

Steel pipe is a traditional material used in many compressed air distribution systems.  It has a relatively low price compared to other materials and due to its familiarity is easy to install. It’s strong and durable on the outside. Its strength comes at a price, steel pipe is very heavy and requires anchors to properly suspend it. Steel pipe (not galvanized) is also susceptible to corrosion. This corrosion ends up in your supply air and can wreak havoc on your point-of-use products and can even contaminate your product. While galvanized steel pipe does reduce the potential for corrosion, this galvanizing coating can flake off over time and result in the exact same potential issues. Stainless Steel pipe eliminates the corrosion and rusting concerns while still maintaining the strength and durability of steel pipe. They can be more difficult to install as stainless steel pipe threads can be difficult to work with.

Copper piping is another potential option. Copper pipe is corrosion-free, easy to cut, and lightweight making it easy to suspend. These factors come at a significant increase in costs, however, which can prevent it from being a suitable solution for longer runs or larger ID pipe installations. Soldering of the connecting joints can be time consuming and does require a skilled laborer to do so, making copper piping a mid-level solution for your compressed air system.

Another lightweight material that is becoming increasingly more common in industry is aluminum piping. Like copper, aluminum is lightweight and anti-corrosion. They’re easy to connect with push-to-lock connectors and are ideal for clean air applications. Aluminum pipe remains leak-free over time and can dramatically reduce compressed air costs. While the initial cost can be high, eliminating potential leaks can help to recoup some of the initial investment. Aluminum pipe is also coated on the inside to prevent corrosion. While an aluminum piping system may be the most expensive, its easy installation and adaptability make it an excellent choice.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed with the variety of options at your disposal. Your facility layout, overall budget, and compressed air requirements will allow you to make the best choice. Once you’ve selected and installed your distribution piping, look to the EXAIR website for all of your point-of-use compressed air needs!

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

Super Blast Safety Air Gun Saves Air vs. an Inefficient Homemade Lance

I was recently contacted by a Chicken Farm in Canada about a blow off application for cleaning the dust and debris off the walls and ceilings in their barns. They currently use a 185 SCFM portable, engine driven compressor and a lance made from 3/4″ open copper tube. The barns are rather large, approximately 10′ high by 500′ long, and they place the compressor in the middle of the barn and have a 250′ length of hose going to the homemade blowoff. This setup worked fine for a minute or so but then the airflow would start to weaken at the point-of-use and the compressor would run continuously as it wasn’t able to maintain pressure to keep up with the demand of the copper pipe.

Picture of existing homemade air lance

After discussing the details of the application, I recommend the customer use our Model # 1214-6 Super Blast Safety Air Gun with 6′ aluminum extension. This would reduce the air demand to 91 SCFM, more suitable for use with the existing 185 SCFM compressor.

 

Super Blast Safety Air Gun Model # 1214

The design of the Super Blast Safety Air Gun features a spring loaded manual valve, providing automatic shutoff and a comfortable foam grip. The 6′ extension provides the extra reach they need to effectively treat the walls and ceilings in the barn.

The Super Blast Safety Air Guns are ideal for wide coverage, long distance applications. They use our Large Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Nozzle Clusters, providing forces levels from 3.2 lbs. up to 23 lbs, depending on which nozzle is fitted on the assembly. Air inlets range from 3/8 FNPT up to 1-1/4 FNPT and aluminum extensions are available in 36″ or 72″ lengths.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact an application engineer.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Energy Rebates and EXAIR Products

In case it goes unnoticed, EXAIR focuses on engineered compressed air point of use products to ensure that our customers are utilizing their costly utility as efficiently as possible.  The main benefits to purchasing EXAIR products are the support you receive from us at EXAIR, the quality of the product, the savings in compressed air, and the increase in safety.  Another added benefit is a large number of utility companies are offering rebates on the purchase of engineered nozzles, just like the Super Air Nozzles that EXAIR offers.

Many energy providers offer these energy rebates for commercial or industrial users.  Here in the Cincinnati area, Duke Energy offers rebates on items such as lighting, air compressors, engineered air nozzles, heaters / dryers for extrusion machines, energy management systems, variable frequency drives, data center equipment, even food service equipment, custom incentives, and many other items.

Duke Energy Rebate
Example of our local energy rebate offering for Engineered Nozzles

For each engineered compressed air nozzle that is installed, in order to meet the rebate requirements they must flow less than or equal to given flow rates in SCFM at 80 psig inlet pressure. The pipe sizes, flow rates, and EXAIR equivalents are shown below.

EXAIR Engineered Air Nozzle Part Number EXAIR Flow Rate @ 80 psig
#1102/#1103 – 1/8 NPT 10 SCFM
#1100/#1101 – 1/4 NPT 14 SCFM
#1108SS-NPT/#1109SS-NPT/#1110SS-NPT
All are 1/8 NPT
2.5, 4.9, 8.3 SCFM
respectively
#1003 – 3/8 NPT 18 SCFM

By just replacing the nozzles the customer saved 2.7 SCFM per nozzle.If we take an example such as the EXAIR Case Study  shown below for 1/4″ copper tube that was being used as an open ended blow off.  The copper tubes were consuming 19.6 SCFM at 100 psig inlet pressure, there were 10 machines with one line per machine operating 40 hours, 52 weeks per year.   The customer retrofitted the open pipes with a model 1100 Super air nozzle and was able to reduce the air consumption by 2.7 SCFM per nozzle.  If they were to purchase these nozzles this year, current list price for a model 1100 Super Air Nozzle is $36.00 USD, then apply for the energy rebate offered by Duke Energy and receive $20.00 per nozzle replaced.  The total savings and return on investment is shown below.

Case Study 1561
EXAIR Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle Replaces Open Copper Pipe Blow Off

10 nozzles x 2.7 SCFM = 27 SCFM  x 60 minutes per hour x 8 hours per day x 5 days per week x 52 weeks per year = 3,369,600 SCF of compressed air saved per year.

3,369,600 / 1,000 SCF x $.25 = $842.40 USD savings in compressed air per year.

Cost Savings per week = $16.20 USD

Total purchase cost is  $36.00 x 10 nozzles = $360.00 USD

Energy Rebate = @20.00 per nozzle x 10 nozzles  = $200.00 USD in rebates.

$360.00 USD purchase price – $200.00 USD energy rebate = $160.00 USD final purchase cost.

Return on investment at a savings of  $16.20 USD per week is

$160.00 / $16.20 = Less than 10 weeks pay back!

By applying for the energy rebate this customer could reduce the ROI of this air savings project from just over 22 weeks (which is still very good) to less than 10 weeks.

If you would like to learn more about whether there are Industrial energy rebates available in your area, contact an Application Engineer and let us know where you are located and who your energy provider is.

We will help you determine the correct engineered solution to save your compressed air as well as help you to apply for eligible energy rebates in your area.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF