Industrial Utility Efficiency    

End Uses

A chemical plant spends an estimated $587,000 annually on electrical energy to operate their compressed air system. In addition, the plant has an expenditure on rental air compressors of equal or greater size - but this will not be covered in this article. The plant was built in the 1940s and modernized in the 1970s. The plant generates its own power and serves many processes. The average cost per kWh is $0.0359.
This factory, located in the U.S. northeast, spent an estimated $120,000 annually on energy to operate the compressed air system. The group of projects recommended below reduced these energy costs by $73,700 or 61% of current use. These estimates are based upon a blended electric rate of $0.114/kWh.
Stretch blow molding equipment requires a significant amount of energy—both compressed air and electrical—to produce bottles. Creating an effective and efficient process, as well as monitoring and maintaining optimal process settings, can result in significant energy cost reduction. These efforts will also help produce containers that meet all of the required quality standards.
This meat processing and packaging factory spent an estimated $203,640 annually on energy to operate the compressed air system at their Midwestern facility. Based on the air system operating 8,760 hours per year, the group of projects recommended below could reduce these energy costs by an estimated $107,522 or 47% of current use. In addition, these projects will decrease compressor maintenance costs. Estimated costs for completing the recommended projects total $21,900. This figure represents a simple payback period of 2 months.
Over the years, analyzing compressed air system operation and efficiency has gone under various names and taken many different shapes and forms. You may know these as; Assessments, Audits, Studies, and Surveys, but in all cases the compressed systems are analyzed using techniques, such as metering and measuring, to assess the system’s performance and identify opportunities for improvement. The problem is that the results of these activities have varied widely; leaving the end-user to try and determine what is usable, credible and implementable. This has led to a lot of “no actions“, resulting in assessments, audits, studies, and surveys being put on the shelf to collect dust.
This facility is part of a corporation producing molded plastic products. There are many injection and extrusion molding processes. The factory was spending $94,934 annually on energy to operate their compressed air system. This system assessment detailed seven (7) project areas where yearly energy savings totaling $53,191 could be found with a minimal investment of $4,170.
BC Hydro is a sponsor of Compressed Air Challenge and one of two Canadian utilities represented on the Board of Directors. BC Hydro’s Power Smart Compressed Air Optimization program helps customers assess how their air system is working, helps with project implementation costs and provides for onsite training of plant personnel. The following profiles tell how two of their customers discovered excellent savings through the application of low cost measures.
The PET industry is in a state of flux right now. A number of new bottle blowing facilities are being brought on-line. They are in the “discovery” phase right now as they realize how challenging the required compressed air systems are to manage – from an energy efficiency standpoint. The average high-volume stretch blow molder (SBM) working with PET usually has 2,000 to 4,000 horsepower of installed air compressors with the related energy costs running between $1 to $4 million per year. This typically represents 35-40% of the facilities’ total energy bill.
Compressed Air Best Practices interviewed Gregory Rhames, Asset Reliability Manager/Energy Manager at Verallia. As background, Verallia is the packaging division of Saint-Gobain. Verallia employs 15,500 people globally and makes about 25 billion glass bottles and jars each year. We employ 350 people at Madera where we produce about 1 million wine, champagne and sake bottles per day.
Bottling companies and breweries, in California, are benefiting from a three-step system assessment process aimed at reducing the electrical consumption of their compressed air systems. The three-step process reduces compressed air demand in bottling lines by focusing on open blowing and idle equipment, and then improves the specic power (reducing the energy consumption) of the air compressors.
Compressed air system refinements have cut operating costs at a Milk Plant located in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada by 62%, for annual savings of nearly $30 000. The improvements were made following a compressed air audit that recommended consolidating two compressed air systems into one, installing a variable speed drive compressor, and making a handful of additional basic improvements.