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.

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


Replacing Water Cooling With Air Amplifiers

Copper tubing in need of air-powered cooling

The copper tubing shown above is heated in an annealing furnace to a temperature of 175°C (347°F).  This tubing is stacked on racks in 100kg rolls, with 4-6 rolls of copper per rack, and then fed into the oven shown below.  When the tubing exits the oven, water is used to cool the copper to a temperature of approximately 35°C (95°F) with an ambient temperature of ~20°C (68°F).  While effective, the use of water to cool the copper is something the manufacturer would like to replace due to constant maintenance, safety issues and cleanup time, preferring instead to use air to provide the required cooling.

The copper tubing travels through this oven

The racks used to stack the copper tubing

I’ve blogged before about the process of determining how much air volume is needed to remove a specific amount of heat.  (You can read previous blogs here and here.)  This application was no different, and I used the flow chart shown below to determine the volume of 20°C ambient air needed to cool this aluminum.

heat load calc process
Airflow calculation process

Using the process outlined above, I determined the application would need 1,133 CFM of air at 20°C to cool these copper coils in one minute. This application, however, has up to 20 minutes available to cool these coils, allowing for a reduced volume of air.  Extending the time available to 2 minutes, and thus reducing the volume requirement to 566.5 CFM (566.5 CFM for 2 minutes = 1,133 CFM for 1 minute), we can definitively say that a series of our model 120022 Super Air Amplifier will be able to provide ample cooling.  (See below for airflow from model 120022 at 5.5 BARG (80 PSIG) at a distance of 6” from the Air Amplifier outlet.)  And, in order to evenly cool the coils, (4) of these Air Amplifiers were recommended, distributed evenly around the coils.

Performance for model 120022 operated at 80 PSIG shown in the red circle on the right

Using a bit of calculation, we were able to provide a specific solution for this customer, eliminating the need for water in the cooling phase of this application.  If you have a similar application, or would like to discuss a compressed air solution for your application, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer