Six Steps to Optimization: Step 6 – Control the Air Pressure at the Point of Use to Minimize Air Consumption

Since air compressors use a lot of electricity to make compressed air, it is important to use the compressed air as efficiently as possible.  EXAIR has six simple steps to optimize your compressed air system.  Following these steps will help you to cut your production costs and improve your bottom line.  In this blog, I will cover the sixth step; controlling the air pressure at the point of use.

Regulators

One of the most common pressure control devices is called the Regulator.  It is designed to reduce the downstream pressure that is supplying your system.  Regulators are commonly used in many types of applications.  You see them attached to propane tanks, gas cylinders, and of course, compressed air lines.  Properly sized, regulators can flow the required amount of gas at a regulated pressure for safety and cost savings.

EXAIR designs and manufactures compressed air products to be safe, effective, and efficient.  By replacing your “old types” of blowing devices with EXAIR products, it will save you much compressed air, which in turn saves you money.  But, why stop there?  You can optimize your compressed air system even more by assessing the air pressure at the point-of-use.  For optimization, using the least amount of air pressure to “do the job” can be very beneficial.

1100 Super Air Nozzles

Why are regulators important for compressed air systems?  Because it gives you the control to set the operating pressure.  For many blow-off applications, people tend to overuse their compressed air.  This can create excessive waste, stress on your air compressor, and steal from other pneumatic processes.  By simply turning down the air pressure, less compressed air is used.  As an example, a model 1100 Super Air Nozzle uses 14 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar).  If you only need 50 PSIG (3.4 bar) to satisfy the blow-off requirement, then the air flow for the model 1100 drops to 9.5 SCFM.  You are now able to add that 4.5 SCFM back into the compressed air system. And, if you have many blow-off devices, you can see how this can really add up.

In following the Six Steps to optimize your compressed air system, you can reduce your energy consumption, improve pneumatic efficiencies, and save yourself money.  I explained one of the six steps in this blog by controlling the air pressure at the point of use.  Just as a note, reducing the pressure from 100 PSIG (7 bar) to 80 PSIG (5.5 bar) will cut your energy usage by almost 20%.  If you would like to review the details of any of the six steps, you can find them in our EXAIR blogs or contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.

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

Supply Side Review: Heat of Compression-Type Dryers

The supply side of a compressed air system has many critical parts that factor in to how well the system operates and how easily it can be maintained.   Dryers for the compressed air play a key role within the supply side are available in many form factors and fitments.  Today we will discuss heat of compression-type dryers.

Heat of compression-type dryer- Twin Tower Version

Heat of compression-type dryers are a regenerative desiccant dryer that take the heat from the act of compression to regenerate the desiccant.  By using this cycle they are grouped as a heat reactivated dryer rather than membrane technology, deliquescent type, or refrigerant type dryers.   They are also manufactured into two separate types.

The single vessel-type heat of compression-type dryer offers a no cycling action in order to provide continuous drying of throughput air.  The drying process is performed within a single pressure vessel with a rotating desiccant drum.  The vessel is divided into two air streams, one is a portion of air taken straight off the hot air exhaust from the air compressor which is used to provide the heat to dry the desiccant. The second air stream is the remainder of the air compressor output after it has been processed through the after-cooler. This same air stream passes through the drying section within the rotating desiccant drum where the air is then dried.  The hot air stream that was used for regeneration passes through a cooler just before it gets reintroduced to the main air stream all before entering the desiccant bed.  The air exits from the desiccant bed and is passed on to the next point in the supply side before distribution to the demand side of the system.

The  twin tower heat of compression-type dryer operates on the same theory and has a slightly different process.  This system divides the air process into two separate towers.  There is a saturated tower (vessel) that holds all of the desiccant.  This desiccant is regenerated by all of the hot air leaving the compressor discharge.  The total flow of compressed air then flows through an after-cooler before entering the second tower (vessel) which dries the air and then passes the air flow to the next stage within the supply side to then be distributed to the demand side of the system.

The heat of compression-type dryers do require a large amount of heat and escalated temperatures in order to successfully perform the regeneration of the desiccant.  Due to this they are mainly observed being used on systems which are based on a lubricant-free rotary screw compressor or a centrifugal compressor.

No matter the type of dryer your system has in place, EXAIR still recommends to place a redundant point of use filter on the demand side of the system.  This helps to reduce contamination from piping, collection during dryer down time, and acts as a fail safe to protect your process.  If you would like to discuss supply side or demand side factors of your compressed air system please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Heat of compression image: Compressed Air Challenge: Drive down your energy costs with heat of compression recovery: https://www.plantservices.com/articles/2013/03-heat-of-compression-recovery/

 

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
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

6 Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

If you’re a follower of the EXAIR Blog, you’re probably well aware that compressed air is the most expensive utility in an industrial environment. The average cost to generate 1000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air is $0.25. If you’re familiar with how much air you use on a daily basis, you’ll understand just how quickly that adds up.

To make matters worse, many compressed air systems waste significant amounts of compressed air just through leaks. According to the Compressed Air Challenge, a typical plant that has not been well maintained will likely have a leak rate of approximately 20%!! Good luck explaining to your finance department that you’re carelessly wasting 20% of the most expensive utility.

SBMart_pipe_800x

6 Steps from Catalog

The best way to save energy associated with the costs of generating compressed air is pretty straightforward and simple: TURN IT OFF! Placing valves throughout your distribution system allows you to isolate areas of the facility that may not need a supply of compressed air continuously.

Even a well-maintained system is going to have a leakage rate around 10%, it’s darn near impossible to absolutely eliminate ALL leaks. By having a valve that allows you to shut off the compressed air supply to isolated areas, you’re able to cut down on the potential places for leaks to occur.

You’re likely not running each and every machine continuously all day long, if that’s the case why not shut off the air supply to those that aren’t running? When operators go to lunch or take a break, have them turn off the valves to prevent any wasted air. The fact of the matter is that taking this one simple step can truly represent significant savings when done diligently.

You wouldn’t leave your house with all the lights and TV on, so why leave your compressed air system running when it’s not in use? Even if everyone’s left for the day, leaks in the system will cause the compressor to keep running to maintain system pressure.

Taking things one step further, EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Control (EFC) utilizes a solenoid controlled by photoelectric sensor that has the ability to shut off the compressed air when no part is present. If you’re blowing off parts that are traveling along a conveyor with space in between them, there’s no need to continuously blow air in between those parts. The EFC is able to be programmed to truly maximize your compressed air savings. The EFC is available in a wide range of different capacities, with models from 40-350 SCFM available from stock and systems controlling two solenoid valves for larger flowrates available as well.

newEFC2_559

It’s no different than turning off your house lights when you leave for work each day. Don’t get caught thinking compressed air is inexpensive “because air is free”. The costs to generate compressed air are no joke. Let’s all do our part to reduce energy consumption by shutting off compressed air when it isn’t necessary!

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

Engineered Compressed Air Nozzles and Utility Rebates

When EXAIR started to manufacture compressed air products, we created a culture in making high quality products that are safe, effective, and efficient.  Being leaders in this industry, we created a program, the Efficiency Lab, to compare blow-off devices with EXAIR products in noise levels, flow requirements, and force measurements.  With calibrated test equipment, we compare the data in a qualified report to share with our customers.  This information can be helpful to determine the total amount of air savings and safety improvements that EXAIR products can offer.

Flat SANs 1in
Zinc Aluminum models are suitable for general purpose blow off (left) and 316SS models are specified for food/pharma and high heat applications.

In conjunction with the Efficiency Lab, we created a Cost Savings Calculator.  It is a quick way to view payback periods and annual savings when using EXAIR products.  As an example, I used a 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle, model 1126, and compared it to a 1/8” open pipe.  (The reason behind the comparison is that the model 1126 can screw onto the end of the 1/8” NPT pipe.)  With an operation of 24 hours/day for 250 days a year, the amount of air used by an 1/8” open pipe is near 70 SCFM (1,981 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  The model 1126 has an air consumption of 10.5 SCFM (297 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  By putting the information in the Cost Savings Calculator, it determined that the ROI was in 2.1 days.  The annual savings was $5,355 USD per year.  Imagine if you replaced ten blow-off spots in your facility, the amount of money that could be saved.  Here is the worksheet below:

flat 1

The people that started to notice the savings were the utility companies that make electricity.  Depending on your location, electrical suppliers initiated a rebate program to use engineered nozzles in your facility.  Similar to other energy saving rebates, like LED light bulbs and high efficiency furnaces, the electrical providers notice a big savings when using EXAIR products.  If you qualify, the total cost to purchase and implement the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are reduced.(Even if a rebate program has not been implemented in your area, the idea of saving energy and compressed air makes it very profitable and environmentally sound in changing over to EXAIR products).

To see if your utility offers rebates on compressed air optimizations, go to the DSIRE database. This database is easy to search and informative.

For Example, here in Ohio Duke Energy has a Prescriptive Incentive Program for its customers. The Prescriptive Incentive Program makes it easy for Duke Energy customers to receive an incentive for their natural gas and electric energy efficiency projects. Prescriptive Incentives are energy efficient measures paid per-unit, reimbursing the customer up to the total cost (including materials and labor) after the measures have been installed. See the image below for their incentives for using Engineered Nozzles;

capture.jpg
Ohio Duke Energy Prescriptive Incentive Program

https://www.duke-energy.com/business/products/smartsaver/industrial-equipment

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help your process and save you money, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

 

 

About Air Compressors: Air Intake Best Practices

Take a second and think about where the air compressor is located within your facility.  It is more than likely not a major focal point displayed prominently in the floor layout. There is a better chance it is tucked away in a corner of the facility where operators seldom travel.  No matter the type of air compressor, it still has an intake where it pulls in the ambient air from around the compressor then sends it through some process and on the demand side of your compressed air system.  These intakes can easily be placed out of sight and out of mind especially in older facilities that were designed when compressors were loud and the piping layout kept them away from operators due to sound level restrictions.

Air Compressor
Antique Air Compressor (Not safe for use!)

That’s why your compressor manufacturer supplies a specific grade of air inlet/intake filter, and this is your first line of defense. If it’s dirty, your compressor is running harder, and costs you more to operate it.  If it’s damaged, you’re not only letting dirt into your system; you’re letting it foul & damage your compressor. It’s just like changing the air filter on your car, your car needs clean air to run correctly, so does your compressor and the entire demand side of your compressed air system.

According to the Compressed Air Challenge, as a compressor inlet filter becomes dirty, the pressure drop across the inlet increases, this is very similar to the point of use compressed air filters.  The inlet filter on the compressor is the only path the compressor has to pull in the air, when restricted the compressor can begin to starve for air very similar to if you only had a small straw to breath through and told to run a marathon.  A clogged inlet filter can give false symptoms to compressor technicians as well.

The effects can mimic inlet valve modulation which result in increased compression ratios. If we were to form an example based on a compressor with a positive displacement, if the filter pressure drop increases by 20″ H2O, a 5% reduction of the mass flow of air will be present without a reduction in the power being drawn by the compressor. This all leads to inefficiency which easily amounts to more than the cost to replace the depleted inlet air filter.

compressor
Compressed Air System

Where you place the filter is just as important as how often you replace it.  There are some tips to be used when mounting the inlet filter.

  1. The filter can be placed on the compressor, but the inlet pipe should be coming from an external area to the compressor room or even the building if possible. The inlet should be free from any contaminants as well.  Some examples that are easy to overlook are nearby condensate discharges, other system exhausts and precipitation.
  2. Depending on the type of compressor being used, a lower intake air temperature can increase the mass flow of air due to the air density.  A compressor that is lubricant injected is not susceptible to this due to the air mixing with the warmer lubricant before being compressed.

If you would like to discuss improving your compressed air efficiency or any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

 

Images Courtesy of  the Compressed Air Challenge and thomasjackson1345 Creative Commons.

Candy Producer Saves $4600 in Compressed Air with EXAIR’s EFC

A few months ago, I took a phone call from a manufacturing engineer who worked at a large candy production facility here in the United States. Extra chocolate was dripping out of the candy molds onto the conveyor belt below.  Within a few hours the belt was dirty enough they would have to stop the line and clean the residual chocolate off the belt. 

The best solution I found was a 72” 316 Stainless Steel Super Air Knife. It worked great when powered at 60 psig inlet pressure. The laminar flow of the Super Air Knife was perfectly suited for this application.  The knife was mounted between the mold and the belt to help solidify and blowoff the excess drips of chocolate. There was one drawback, the Super Air Knife was not needed to blow the belt continuously and the continuous demand was not desirable during peak production.

The simple solution for this was the EXAIR Electronic Flow Control, the EFC minimizes compressed air use by turning off the air when a sensor is triggered. Since there was a 4.5-minute time gap between each mold set this was a great solution. When the photoelectric eye saw a mold, it then told the solenoid valve to open and supply the knife with compressed air for 30 seconds while the mold was open and the excess chocolate would be dripping. See the Savings calculations below;

efcapp

Without using the EFC

(* Using $ 0.25 per 1000 SCFM used)

  • 72” Super Ion Air Knife = 165.6 SCFM @ 60 PSIG
  • 165.6 SCFM x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1000 SCFM = $ 2.48 per hour
  • $ 2.48 per hour x 8 hours = $ 19.84 per 8-hour day
  • $ 19.84 x 5 days = $ 99.20 per work week
  • $ 99.20 per week x 52 weeks =$5,158.40 per work year without the EFC control

 

With the EFC installed (turning the compressed air off for 4 minutes 30 seconds with a 30 second on time = 6 minutes/hour compressed air usage)

  • 165.6 SCFM x 6 minute x $ 0.25 / 1000 SCFM = $ 0.25 per hour
  • $ 0.25 per hour x 8 hours = $ 2.00 per 8-hour day
  • $ 2.00 x 5 days = $ 10.00 per work week
  • $ 10.00 per week x 52 weeks = $520.00 per work year with the EFC control 

$ 5,158.40 per year (w/o EFC) – $ 520.00 per year (w/ EFC) = $4,638.40 projected savings per year by incorporating the EFC.

EFC287x250

This example illustrates, clearly, why choosing the EFC is a good idea. It has the ability to keep compressed air costs to a minimum and saves compressed air for use within other processes around the plant. With this type of compressed air savings, the unit would pay for itself in less than 3 months.

If you would like to see how we might be able to improve your process or provide a solution for valuable savings, please contact one of our Application Engineers.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS