Air Compressors: Savings Found on the Supply and Demand Side

Producing compressed air can be expensive, but it is necessary for pneumatic systems.  And a large part of that expense is wasted energy, in the form of heat.  Waste will add to your overhead and affect your bottom line.  EXAIR has a line of products to help reduce air consumption at the point-of-use to save you money.  This would include replacing open-pipes and tubes with EXAIR Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Knives.  But, let’s look at the supply side inside your compressor room.  The air compressor operates at about 10% efficiency where most of that loss is in a form of heat. 

Wouldn’t it be nice to recover some of that expense?  You can.  By equipping your air compressor with a heat recovery system.  These systems are designed to recover the loss of heat for other uses.  Today, they can recover somewhere between 50% for liquid-cooled compressors to 80% for air-cooled compressors.  The heat can come from the after-coolers, the electric motor, the “heat of compression”, and the oil cooler.  This reclaimed heat can be used to heat water, warm rooms, pre-heat steam systems, and dry parts. 

Let’s create an example.  A company has a 100 HP air-cooled compressor that is running 8 hours per day for 250 days per year.  The heat recovery system will be able to reclaim 60% of the heat to warm city water in the plant.  If the electrical cost is $0.10 per KWh, we can calculate the savings.

Annual Savings:

100 HP * 0.746 KW/HP * 0.6 (reclaim) * 8 hours/day * 250 days/yr * $0.10/KWh = $8,952.00 savings per year.

In practice, reclaiming the maximum percentage may not be cost effective.  Your company can determine the best percentage for heat recovery by calculating the Return on Investment (ROI).  I wrote a blog post that can help you estimate (Click Here)

As mentioned above, EXAIR saves you money and increase efficiency on the demand side.  EXAIR has engineered nozzles to help reduce compressed air usage.  The following is a quick calculation by replacing an open-end blow-off with an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle.  If you have a ¼” (6mm) copper tube, it will use 33 SCFM (935 SLPM) of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar).  As a common replacement, EXAIR uses a model 1100 Super Air Nozzle which will use 14 SCFM (396 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar).  With a simple tube fitting, you can mount the ¼” NPT Super Air Nozzle to the end of the ¼” copper tube.  If we use the same pretext as above, we can find the annual cost savings.  With an air compressor that produces 5 SCFM/hp, we can get a cost savings with the Super Air Nozzle.  The difference in air flow at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar) is:

33 SCFM (copper tube) – 14 SCFM (Model 1100) = 19 SCFM savings

Annual Savings:

19 SCFM * 1 HP/ 5 SCFM * 0.746 KW/HP * 8 hr/day * 250 days/yr * $0.10/KWh = $566.96 savings per year per nozzle.

Whether it is on the supply side or the demand side, companies are looking to reduce or reuse the wasted energy to have a more efficient compressed air system.  The heat recovery system is a bit more complex, but should be considered.  The EXAIR engineered nozzles are more simplistic, and they can give you a return on your investment in a short period of time.  If you would like to discuss how to improve your compressed air system from the supply side to the demand side, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to assist you. 

John Ball
Application Engineer

Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Photo: Idea by Saydung89Pixabay License.

Flat Super Air Nozzle vs. Open Pipe ROI

The EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles are manufactured to blow a wide forceful stream of air.  Their patented design creates a high velocity, laminar air stream with minimal air consumption and low noise.  They come in two widths; 1” (25mm) and 2” (51mm).  EXAIR offers a standard Flat Super Air Nozzle and a High Force Flat Super Air Nozzle in two different materials, zinc-aluminum alloy and 316 stainless steel.  And with a metal construction, breakage is not a concern and performance are not sacrificed even in the harshest of environments. 

The unique patented shims inside the EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles will give you three improvements to the design and function.  First, they come in different thickness to create a wide range of forces.  In conjunction with a regulator, you can “dial” in the correct amount of force from a breeze to a blast without overusing your air compressor.  The patented design also allows an even flow across the entire width of the air nozzle.  Lastly, they help to entrain the free ambient air; so that less compressed air is required.  The high efficiency design will save you money.  The EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles are effective in uniform blowing with safety and efficiency in mind.

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

To expand more on force adjustments with the Flat Super Air Nozzles, EXAIR has an easy way to change the shim to better suit your application.  You can increase or decrease the force of the nozzle by just removing two screws and changing the thickness of the shim inside.  EXAIR offers a variety pack called a Shim Set to give you a wide range of forces with the nozzles.  For the standard Flat Super Air Nozzle, they come stock with a 0.015” (0.38mm) shim for both the 1” and 2” sizes.  The corresponding Shim Sets will include a 0.005” (0.13mm), 0.010” (0.25mm), and 0.020” (0.51mm) shim.  The High Force Flat Super Air Nozzles will come standard with a 0.025” (0.64mm) shim; and the Shim Set will include a 0.020” (0.51mm) and 0.030” (0.76mm) thick shim.  This is a unique feature as most competitive flat nozzles do not allow you to do this.  The chart below corresponds the appropriate Shim Set to the Flat Super Air Nozzle.

Not only are they safe, and easily adjustable they can help save compressed air vs using a open ended pipe!

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.

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.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

Keep Your Pneumatics “Healthy” and “Running Like a Brand New Car”

Compressed air systems are used in facilities to operate pneumatic systems, and these systems are vital for industries.  So, it is important to keep them running.  The system can be segregated into three different sections; the supply side, the demand side, and the distribution system.  I like to represent these sections as parts of a car.  The supply side will be the engine; the distribution system will be the transmission; and, the demand side will be the tires.  I will go through each section to help give tips on how to improve the “health” of your pneumatic system.

From the supply side, it will include the air compressor, after-cooler, dryer, and receiver tank that produce and treat the compressed air.  They are generally found in a compressor room somewhere in the corner of the plant.  The air compressor, like the engine of your car, produces the pneumatic power for your plant, and needs to have maintenance to keep it working optimally.  The oil needs to be changed, the filters have to be replaced, and maintenance checks have to be performed.  I wrote a blog that covers most of these items, “Compressed Air System Maintenance”.

To connect the supply side to the demand side, a distribution system is required.  Distribution systems are pipes which carry compressed air from the air compressor to the pneumatic devices.  Just like the transmission on the car, the power is transferred from the air compressor to your pneumatic products.

Maintenance is generally overlooked in this area.  Transmissions have oil which can be detected if it is leaking, but since air is a gas, it is hard to tell if you have leaks.  Energy is lost from your pneumatic “engine” for every leak that you have.  So, it is important to find and fix them.  A study was conducted within manufacturing plants about compressed air leaks.  They found that for plants without a leak detection program, up to 30% of their compressed air is lost due to leaks.  This will be equivalent to running on only 6 cylinders in a V-8 engine.

EXAIR offers the Ultrasonic Leak Detector to find those pesky leaks.  It makes the inaudible “hiss”; audible.  It can detect leaks as far as 20 feet (6m) away with the parabola attachment, and can find the exact location of the leak to be fixed with the tube attachment.

Another area for discussion with the distribution system is contamination like rust, oil, water, and debris.  Compressed air filters should be used to clean the compressed air that supplies your pneumatic products. They can remove the debris for your pneumatic products to have a long life.  You can read about the EXAIR compressed air filters here, “Preventative Maintenance for EXAIR Filters”.

The third section is the demand side.  So, you have an engine that makes the power, the transmission to transfer that power, and the tires to use that power safely and efficiently.  Many managers miss the importance of the demand side within their pneumatic system.  If you are using blow-off devices like open pipes, coolant lines, copper tubes, or drilled pipe; it will be like running your car on flat tires.  It is very unsafe as well as reducing gas mileage.  To improve safety and efficiency, EXAIR has a line of Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Knives.  Not only will it increase your “gas mileage” to save you money, but they also will keep your operators safe.

In this analogy, you can have a high-performance engine and a durable transmission, but if your tires are bald, flat, or cracked; you cannot use your car safely and efficiently.  The same thing with your compressed air system.  You have to optimize your blow-off devices to get the most from your pneumatic system.  EXAIR is a leader in engineered blow-off devices for efficiency and safety.  So, if you want to improve the “health” of your pneumatic system, you should begin at how you are using your compressed air on the demand side.  EXAIR has Application Engineers that will be happy to help you in trying to keep your pneumatic system running like a “brand new car”.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb


Photo: Ford Mustang Roadster by openclipart-VectorsPixabay License

OSHA Safety, Efficiency, and Flexibility from Engineered Compressed Air Nozzles

Throughout my years here at EXAIR as well as my years in the metal cutting industry, one of the most common quick fixes I see in production environments for compressed air blowoffs in a process is an open copper pipe that is contorted into a position, pinched at the end, and more often than not kinked from repositioning. I call this a quick fix because it does blow air, more often than not it will get production up and running, but it does not meet or exceed OSHA standards for safety and is an inefficient use of compressed air. [OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 29 CFR 1910.95(a)]

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles that are easy replacements for 1/8″ and 1/4″ Copper pipe.

The first engineered solution I could offer to prevent any costly OSHA fines and to lower the ambient noise level caused by these blowoffs is to implement an EXAIR Engineered Air Nozzle. We offer a wide variety of nozzles ranging from a 4mm thread up to a 1-1/4″ NPT thread. With this wide range comes a wide variety of forces and flows as well.

Today, I would like to focus on the common sizes of copper blowoffs which are 1/8″ and 1/4″. To simply adapt a nozzle to copper line a compression fitting can be easily sourced, often from EXAIR, and convert the copper tubing in place to an NPT threaded outlet for easy installation of an EXAIR nozzle. More often than not a compression fitting is how the copper tubing is tied into the machine’s compressed air system.

We have a total of 37 engineered air nozzles from stock that will easily fit a compression fitting which goes to a 1/8″ NPT or 1/4″ NPT thread. Several of these are also adjustable through a gap adjustment or a patented shim adjustment to vary the force and flow out of the nozzle from a forceful blast to a gentle breeze in order to me your application needs. What if you want to eliminate the copper line and compressions fittings?

EXAIR offers a replacement option for the ever-common copper tube that is more robust and does not require a tool to be properly repositioned. We currently offer twenty-four different models of our Stay Set Hoses that can be easily connected to any of the nozzles mentioned above. The lengths that are available are 6″ (152mm), 12″ (305mm), 18″ (457mm), 24″ (610mm), 30″ (762mm) and 36″ (914mm).

These lengths are available with two separate connection options. 1/4″ MNPT x 1/4″ MNPT or 1/4″ MNPT x 1/8″ FNPT. The Stay Set Hoses can easily be bent by hand into position for a precise placement of the air pattern from the engineered nozzle attached to it. This permits operators a tool free adjustment for fast and reliable location to keep production up and running. They can also be paired with Magnetic Bases.

EXAIR Magnetic Bases are available in single outlet or dual outlet configurations. Both include a 100 lb. pull magnet that will hold tight to any ferrous metal surface for secure mounting, as well as a quick 1/4 turn miniature valve on each outlet. This permits independent customization of the force our of each output for the dual outlet mag base. Each magnetic base offers a 1/4″ FNPT inlet port and outlet port. We offer these with any of combination of the Stay Set Hoses mentioned above as well as any of the Super Air Nozzles mentioned above.

Mag Bases come with one or two outlets. Stay Set Hoses come in lengths from 6″ to 36″.

The Super Air Nozzles, Stay Set Hoses, and Magnetic Bases can be easily combined before they ship to your facility to make a complete blowoff station that is easily installed and adjusted to fit any of the needs your process may have for a point of use blowoff. If you want help determining how much compressed air you would save by replacing the open pipe blowoffs with an engineered solution like a Stay Set Magnetic Base Blowoff System please contact myself or any Application Engineer here at EXAIR.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer