Lower Operating Costs by Minimizing Compressed Air Leaks

Almost every industry uses compressed air in some capacity. It is often referred to as the “fourth utility” In an industrial setting, next to water, gas and electric. and in many cases, is the largest energy user in the plant. With an average cost of $ 0.25 per every 1000 Standard Cubic Feet used, compressed air can be expensive to produce so it is very important to use this utility as efficiently as possible. When evaluating the performance of a compressed air system, it’s important to look at the system as a whole.

When you operate point-of-use devices at a higher pressure than necessary to perform a certain job or function, you are creating “artificial demand”. This results in excess air volume being consumed, increasing the amount of energy being lost to waste. For example, plant personnel or operators increase the supply pressure in an effort to improve the end use devices performance. When there is a leak in the system, the line pressure will actually begin to drop and performance begins to deteriorate in other areas in the plant. This not only puts stress on the existing compressor but it also leads to the false idea that a larger or secondary compressor is needed.

Here’s a quick reference on how operating pressure can directly affect operating cost:


Our Model # 1101 Super Air Nozzle requires 14 SCFM @ 80 PSIG. Based on the average operating cost of $ 0.25 per 1000 SCF used, it would cost $ 0.21 per hour to operate this nozzle. (14 SCFM x $ 0.25 x 60 minutes / 1000 SCF = $ 0.21)

If you were able to use the same Model # 1101 Super Air Nozzle operating at only 40 PSIG, while still achieving the desired end result, the air demand would decrease to only 8.1 SCFM, reducing the hourly cost to $ 0.12.  (8.1 SCFM x $ 0.25 x 60 minute / 1000 SCF = $ 0.12)

Don’t waste your money

Leaks in a compressed air system can account for up to 30% of the total operational cost of the compressor, wasting thousands of dollars of electricity per year. Some of the more common places for a leak to occur would be at connection points such as valves, unions, couplings, fittings, etc.

In this table, you will see that a certain amount of air volume is lost through an orifice or opening. If you have several leaks throughout your facility, it isn’t gong to take long for the waste and high operating costs to quickly add up as well as potential increases in repair or maintenance costs for the existing compressor. The industry average shows that any leakage more than 10%, shows there are areas where operational improvements could be made in a compressed air system.

Stay tuned to our blog over the next few weeks as we will discuss how following a few simple steps can help optimize your current compressed air system, in many cases, reducing energy costs related to compressed air waste, leading to a more economical operation.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to discuss a particular application or EXAIR product, give me a call at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

 

 

Super Air Knife Saves Money Compared to Drilled Pipe

A few months ago, my counterpart Brian Bergmann wrote a blog providing a detailed explanation of ROI or Return on Investment. Today, I would like to take this information and apply it to a common situation we deal with regularly here at EXAIR – replacing drilled pipe with our Super Air Knife.

Drilled pipe – easy to make but extremely wasteful

Sections of pipe with drilled holes across the length are very common as they are made of relatively inexpensive materials and simple to make.  Where the cost begins to add up is on the operation side as these types of homemade blowoffs waste a ton of compressed air, making them expensive to operate.

For comparison, lets look at a 12″ section of pipe with (23) 1/16″ diameter drilled holes. According to the chart below, each hole will flow 3.8 SCFM @ 80 PSIG for a total of 87.4 SCFM.

With an average cost of $ 0.25 per every 1,000 SCF used (based on $ 0.08/kWh), it would cost $ 1.31 to operate this blowoff for 1 hour. (87.4 SCFM x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1,000)

Super Air Knife – Available from 3″ up to 108″ in aluminum, 303ss and 316ss

Now let’s take a look at replacing the drilled pipe with our 12″ Super Air Knife. A 12″ Super Air Knife will consume 34.8 SCFM (2.9 SCFM per inch) when operated at 80 PSIG. Using the same figure of $ 0.25 per every 1,000 SCF used, it would cost $ 0.52 / hr. to operate this knife. (34.8 SCFM x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1,000)

Now that we know the operating costs, we can make a better comparison between the 2 products.

Drilled pipe operating costs:
$ 1.31 per hour
$ 10.48 per day (8 hours)

12″ Super Air Knife costs:
$ 0.52 per hour
$ 4.16 per day (8 hours)

Cost Savings:
$ 10.48 per day (drilled pipe) –  $ 4.16 per day (Super Air Knife) = $ 6.32 savings per day

A 12″ aluminum Super Air Knife carries a LIST price of $ 297.00. If we take $ 297.00 divided by $ 6.32 (saving per day), we get a ROI of only 47 days.

As you can see, it is quite beneficial to consider ALL of the parameters when looking at a process or application, rather than just the “upfront” details. What seems like a simple and easy fix, can actually be quite  wasteful when it comes to the true cost of ownership.

If you are using similar devices in your plant and would like to see how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help make the process operate more efficiently, contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

What is Ultrasonic Sound? How Does the Ultrasonic Leak Detector Work?

ULD
Ultrasonic Leak Detector locates compressed air leak

Many times when working with our customers and educating them about ultrasonic sound and how the Ultrasonic Leak Detector works, we will get questions like, “You sell the Ultrasonic Leak Detector for compressed air, but will it work to detect Helium or Nitrogen?”

The answer is yes, it has the capacity to sense either of these gases. When any gas flows through a small opening at a rate greater than 10-5 mL/second, the gas is generally understood to be in viscous flow. The greater the pressure difference across the opening, the greater the velocity of the gas moving from high pressure to low pressure side. When the velocity increases, the frequency of emitted ultrasonic noise also increases to higher frequency. And to be clear, the Ultrasonic Leak Detector has the capability to detect many different sources of ultrasonic noise. It does not have to be a gas leak, but for our purposes in dealing with the location of compressed air leaks we will stick to gas leaks in this discussion.

Ultrasonic frequencies range from 20 kHz to 100 kHz, a range that is above the perception of normal, human hearing (20 Hz – 20 kHz). The Ultrasonic Leak Detector consists of a microphone and some electronics that “tune” the device’s capability to sense frequencies in this range. And through a process called “heterodyning” the ultrasonic frequency is shifted down into a frequency range that can be heard through a set of headphones by the operator. Ultrasonic noise is highly directional. As the detecting microphone is aimed in the direction of an ultrasonic noise source, the “white noise” heard through the head phones will increase in volume thus indicating that the operator has the detector pointed in the correct direction and can proceed closer to the noise source (meaning compressed gas leak) so it can be identified, tagged and eventually repaired.

Compressed air leaks can result in a waste of up to 30% of a facility’s compressor output. A compressed air leak detection and repair program can save the facility this wasted air. You can even think of such a program as another way in which a facility can “find” additional air compressor capacity for new projects instead of having to purchase additional compressors to make up for the leakage. And the nice thing is that using the EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector to identify only one leak has the great potential to pay for the tool you used to find the leak within the first 3 – 6 months. There aren’t many tools that can pay for themselves in that quick a time frame.

If you have any questions about ultrasonic noise, the EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector or your specific application, kindly contact our Application Engineers to discuss your case today! If you would like to watch my video about how to operate the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, click here.

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com
@EXAIR_NR