Creating an Efficient Compressed Air System

The electrical costs associated with generating compressed air make it the most expensive utility in any industrial facility. In order to help offset these costs, it’s imperative that the system is operating as efficiently as possible. I’d like to take a moment to walk you through some of the ways that you can work towards making your compressed air system more efficient.

The first step you should take is to identify and fix any leaks within the distribution piping. According to the Compressed Air Challenge, up to 30% of all compressed air generated is lost through leaks. This ends up accounting for nearly 10% of your overall energy costs!! To put leaks in perspective, take a look at the graphic below from the Best Practices for Compressed Air Systems handbook.

Compressed air leaks don’t just waste energy, but they can also contribute to other operating losses. If enough air is lost through leaks, this can also cause a drop in system pressure. This can affect the functionality of other compressed air operated equipment and processes. This pressure drop can affect the efficiency of the equipment causing it to cycle on/off more frequently or to not work properly. This can lead to anything from rejected products to increased running time. With an increase in running time, there’s also the need for more frequent maintenance and unscheduled downtime.

You can perform a compressed air audit in your facility using an EXAIR Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector. If you’d prefer someone come in and do this for you, there are several companies that offer energy audit services where this will be a focal point of the process.

Speaking of maintenance, proper compressor maintenance is also critical to the overall efficiency of the system. Like all industrial equipment, a proper maintenance schedule is required in order to ensure things are operating at peak efficiency. Inadequate compressor maintenance can have a significant impact on energy consumption via lower compressor efficiency. A regular preventative maintenance schedule is required in order to keep things in good shape. The compressor, heat exchanger surfaces, lubricant, lubricant filter, air inlet filter, and dryer all need to be maintained. This can be done yourself or through a reputable compressor dealer. The costs associated with these services are outweighed in the improved reliability and performance of the compressor. A well-maintained system will not cause unexpected shutdowns and will also cost less to operate.

The manner in which you use your compressed air at the point of use should also be evaluated. Inefficient, homemade solutions are thought to be a cheap and quick solution. Unfortunately, the costs to supply these inefficient solutions with compressed air can quickly outweigh the costs of an engineered solution. An engineered compressed air nozzle such as EXAIR’s line of Super Air Nozzles are designed to utilize the coanda effect. Free, ambient air from the environment is entrained into the airflow along with the supplied compressed air. This maximizes the force and flow of the nozzle while keeping compressed air usage to a minimum.

Another method of making your compressed air system more efficient is actually quite simple: regulating the supply pressure. By installing pressure regulators at the point of use for each of your various point of use devices, you can reduce the consumption simply by reducing the pressure. This can’t be done for everything, but I’d be willing to bet that several tasks could be accomplished with the same level of efficiency at a reduced pressure. Most shop air runs at around 80-90 psig, but for general blowoff applications you can often get by operating at a lower pressure. Another simple, but often overlooked, method is to simply shut off the compressed air supply when not in use. If you haven’t yet performed an audit to identify compressed air leaks this is even more of a no-brainer. When operators go to lunch or during breaks, what’s stopping you from just simply turning a valve to shut off the supply of air? It seems simple and minute, but each step goes a long way towards reducing your overall air consumption and ultimately your energy costs.

Tyler Daniel, CCASS


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

Image taken from the Best Practices for Compressed Air Systems Handbook, 2nd Edition

Engineered Compressed Air Products = Less Noise & Money Saved

Everyone dislikes loud noises for the most part. Here in Ohio we just got done surviving the constant buzz and swarming of cicadas. We all deal with noise on a daily basis, some of it enjoyable and some of it not so much. Noise is an inescapable fact of life and all we can do is try to reduce noise level to save our sanity. But, did you know that cutting down on the noise produced by compressed air blow offs can actually save you money? Your loud homemade blow off system is not only way too loud, but it is most likely also costing you more money than you need to spend.

EXAIR’s engineered compressed air products are designed to operate quietly and efficiently. The reduction in noise they produce is only one of the benefits – another is the reduction in money by reducing compressed air use.

EXAIR Super Air Knife Promotion
EXAIR’s SUPER AIR KNIFE

But how does one calculate out the ROI? It is very simple to calculate out your potential savings of using one of EXAIR’s Intelligent Engineered Compressed Air Products. If you would rather not do the calculations out yourself then we can do it for you by sending the item in question to our Efficiency Lab Testing. The Efficiency Lab Testing is a free service that we offer to show you the possible savings by switching to one of our products.

The following is a typical ROI preformed and replaced with a corresponding EXAIR Super Air Nozzle:

  • ¼” drilled pipe with (3) 3/32” Holes which uses 9.4 SCFM per hole at 80 psig (denoted as DP)
  • A Model 110003 3” Super Air Knife can be used to replace and only uses 8.7 SCFM at 80 psig (denoted below as SAK)

Calculation:

(DP air consumption) * (60 min/hr) * (8 hr/day) * (5 days/week) * (52 weeks/year) = SCF used per year for Copper Pipe 

(28.2) * (60) * (8) * (5) * (52) = 3,519,360 SCF

(SAK air consumption) * (60 min/hr) * (8 hr/day) * (5 days/week) * (52 weeks/year) = SCF used per year for EXAIR Product 

 (8.7) * (60) * (8) * (5) * (52) = 1,085,760 SCF

Air Savings:

SCF used per year for DP – SCF used per year for SAK = SCF Savings

               3,519,360 SCF – 1,085,760 SCF = 2,433,600 SCF in savings

If you know the facilities cost to generate 1,000 SCF of compressed air you can calculate out how much this will cost you would save. If not, you can us $0.25 to generate 1,000 SCF which is the value used by the U.S. Department of Energy to estimate costs.

Yearly Savings:

                (SCF Saved) * (Cost / 1000 SCF) = Yearly Savings

                                (2,433,600 SCF) * ($0.25 */ 1000 SCF) = $608.40 annual Savings

With the simple investment of $216 (as of date published) you can calculate out the time it will take to pay off the unit.

Time Until payoff:

                (Yearly Savings) / (5 days/week * 52 weeks/year) = Daily Savings

                                ($608.40/year) / (5 days/week * 52 weeks/year) = $2.34 per day

                (Cost of EXAIR Unit) / (Daily Savings) = Days until unit has been paid off

                                ($216) / ($2.34/day) = 92.3 days 

As you can see it doesn’t take long for the air knife to pay for itself. You also get better overall performance as the Super Air Knife will provide a solid curtain of air. In the end you get to breathe a sigh of relief as no more jump scares and a loud hiss when you turn your air on. Who doesn’t like to save a little money and sanity, especially in these crazy times?

If you have any questions or want more information on EXAIR’s Air Knifes or like products. Give us a call, we have a team of application engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Know How Much Money You Can Save with EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab

 
Free testing. Verifiable data. EXAIR Efficiency Lab.

When it comes to buying new gear for any kind of outdoor hobby the research almost becomes a full-time job to decided what to get. When I’m hanging 200 ft. in the air off of a single rope, I want to make sure that my harness, rope, and all my other gear is top notch and not going to fail me as my literal life is hanging on the line. Sometimes it would be nice to have a professional climber standing there telling you all of the pros and cons, what they like and dislike about it, and weather it’s worth the buy. Outdoor gear is expensive and climbing equipment is no exception, in an ever-changing world of innovation new things are coming out every week and is just to hard for one person to keep up with.

Similarly, EXAIR has multiple product lines, many new products, and countless applications for our products. That is where our Application Engineers come in; as experts on our products and their applications we can provide in-depth knowledge on the various uses and expected outcomes. 

EXAIR’s Products in action

EXAIR has been making compressed air products since 1983, and have since created a culture of making high quality, safe, and efficient compressed air products. With this in mind we started the Efficiency Lab program for people to take advantage to test your current pneumatic blow-off device and compare it to an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air product. We will generate a detailed report on our findings and send it to you for your review. This free service provided to U.S. and Canadian companies allows people to test and look into possible upgrades and cost savings.

During my time as a project and process engineer at Valeo and Tyson I wish I had known about this service.  The Efficiency Lab allows you to look at what your current process is, whether it is an open-ended pipe or some other nozzle and have EXAIR compare it to an EXAIR product for free. Its like getting a free inspection of all your gear and having an expert help you find the best replacement if needed.

You may be wondering why we offer this service; it’s simple, compressed air can be expensive and we want to save you money. Not only are open ended pipes unsafe and can violate OSHA Standards on both dead-end pressure and noise level, but they also use a lot of compressed air. To operate an 1/8” open pipe you are looking at over $2000 a year for just one pipe; there isn’t a single plant that is just going to use one pipe. That is a lot of money that can add up over time, which could easily be saved by changing out what you are using.

The Efficiency Lab is quite simple to use. The simplest way is to contact us (my info below) and we can exchange the information needed to get your product into EXAIR. Once received, we will proceed. We will then calibrate the equipment and standardized procedures to test for noise level, air consumption, and force generated. Based off of this information we will recommend a similar product. Don’t be afraid, let us take care of the hard part of choosing which product is best for your application. If you cannot send any product in, use our  Product Efficiency Survey to provide as many details as possible. 

If you have any questions about compressed air systems or want more information on any of EXAIR’s products, give us a call, we have a team of Application Engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Intelligent Compressed Air: Single Acting Reciprocating Air Compressors

Of all the types of air compressors on the market, you can’t beat the single acting reciprocating air compressor for simplicity:

Piston goes down: air is pulled in. Piston goes up: air is pushed out.

This simplicity is key to a couple of major advantages:

  • Price: they can cost 20-40% less than a similar rated (but more efficient) rotary screw model, up to about 5HP sizes.  This makes them great choices for home hobbyists and small industrial or commercial settings.
  • High pressure: It’s common to see reciprocating compressors that are capable of generating up to 3,000 psig.  Because the power is transmitted in the same direction as the fluid flow, they can handle the mechanical stresses necessary for this much better than other types of air compressors, which may need special modifications for that kind of performance.
  • Durability: out of necessity, their construction is very robust and rugged.  A good regimen of preventive maintenance will keep them running for a good, long time.  Speaking of which…
  • Maintenance (preventive): if you change your car’s oil and brake pads yourself, you have most of the know-how – and tools – to perform regular upkeep on a reciprocating air compressor.  There’s really not that much to them:

    The internals of a single acting reciprocating compressor.

Those advantages are buffered, though, by certain drawbacks:

  • Efficiency, part 1: The real work (compressing the air) only happens on the upstroke.  They’re less efficient than their dual acting counterparts, which compress on the downstroke too.
  • Efficiency, part 2: As size increases, efficiency decreases.  As stated above, smaller sizes usually cost appreciably less than more efficient (rotary screw, vane, centrifugal, etc.) types, but as you approach 25HP or higher, the cost difference just isn’t there, and the benefits of those other types start to weigh heavier in the decision.
  •  Maintenance (corrective):  Whereas they’re easy to maintain, if/when something does break, the parts (robust and rugged as they are) can get pretty pricey.
  • Noise: No way around it; these things are LOUD.  Most of the time, you’ll find them in a remote area of the facility, and/or in their own (usually sound-insulated) room.
  • High temperature:  When air is compressed, the temperature rises due to all the friction of those molecules getting shoved together…that’s going to happen with any air compressor.  All the metal moving parts in constant contact with each other, in a reciprocating model, add even more heat.
  • Oil in the air: If you’re moving a piston back & forth in a cylinder, you have to keep it lubed properly, which means you have oil adjacent to the air chamber.  Which means, no matter how well it’s built, you’re likely going to have oil IN the air chamber.

All that said, the benefits certainly do sell a good number of these compressors, quite often into situations where it just wouldn’t make sense to use any other type.  If you’re in the market for an air compressor,  you’ll want to find a local reputable air compressor dealer, and discuss your needs with them.  If those needs entail the use of engineered compressed air products, though, please feel free to give me a call to discuss.  We can make sure you’re going to ask your compressor folks the right questions.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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