Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Technology

The useful and various properties of nitrogen (N2) in industrial applications rank it as one of the most specified gases in industry. For the manufacturer, nitrogen options exist in the choice of delivery system, compliance with clean air standards, safety and purity. In researching these choices, manufacturers can accurately select the optimum nitrogen supply required, often at a considerable savings. Selecting purity levels of 99.99% or higher in many industries and applications ads a variety of costs, both financial and efficiency, which may be needlessly incurred.

Air Compressors

In general, this article focuses on the definitions of terms often used to understand centrifugal air compressor performance. Comments are also made on how to measure power consumption. This article is not intended to be an engineering discussion of the various types and designs of centrifugal and other air compressors.

Air Treatment

Compressed air is dried to prevent condensation and corrosion which can disrupt manufacturing processes and contaminate products. Water is the primary promotor of chemical reactions and physical erosion in compressed air systems. A myriad of desiccant dryer designs have been devised to provide “commercially dry” air, air having a dew point of -40°F or less, to prevent corrosion.  Desiccant dryers use solid adsorbents in granule form to reduce the moisture content of compressed air.

Blowers

High speed bearing technology is applicable for aeration blowers operating at much higher speeds than the typical 60Hz, 3600RPM for cast multistage units. High Speed Turbo (HST) units are usually single stage (though some utilize multiple cores) and rotate from 15,000 to 50,000RPM. At such high speeds, standard roller bearings cannot offer the industry standard L10 bearing life. Two types of bearing technologies have come to dominate the wastewater treatment market for these types of machines: airfoil and magnetically levitated. Often the two technologies are compared as equals, however, in many significant ways they are not.

Compressor Controls

Quite often the typical variability in compressed air flow demand does not proportionately translate into power reductions at the air compressors. This can be a result of numerous problems with the compressed air supply system. It is important to understand the supply-side’s ability to respond to the demand-side of the compressed air system. If the air compressors, on the supply-side, are not able to translate flow reductions into energy savings, implementation of demand reduction projects should be re-evaluated.  

Instrumentation

Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine interviewed Mr. Warwick Rampley, the National Sales Manager for Sydney (Australia) based, Basil V.R. Greatrex Pty Ltd. It’s not every day one is asked to deliver a system able to provide both a reliable compressed air dew point of -80°C (-112°F) and high purity nitrogen.  We work with some excellent technology suppliers and have engineered a rather interesting system.  Although our firm was founded in 1919, this application is one of the most demanding we’ve encountered. Basil V.R. Greatrex is a unique company as we focus only on compressed air measurement, compressed air quality and compressed air efficiency.

Pneumatics

The design of wastewater treatment plants is changing, and it has something to do with LEGO® bricks. More specifically, it has to do with how large and complex LEGO structures are built. If you follow the instructions carefully, you build module after module, eventually piecing them together to create a fully functional and cohesive unit.

Vacuum

It’s one thing to move materials during the production process, but when it’s a finished product on the packaging line, choosing the right material handling system is essential. Getting it wrong results in squandered production time when product loss occurs, and wasted raw materials.

Cooling Systems

As a result of compressed air awareness training and a focus on energy management, two facilities in different parts of the world have reduced their compressed air demand substantially by removing vortex style cabinet coolers from some of their electrical panels and reworking the cooling systems.  These facilities were previously unaware of the high cost of compressed air and how much could be saved if other methods of cooling were used. This article describes some of their efforts in demand reduction.
This metal fabrication and machining facility produces high-quality precision-built products. Over the years, the plant has grown and there have been several expansions to the current location. The company currently spends $227,043 annually on energy to operate the compressed air system. This figure will increase as electric rates are raised from their current average of 9.8 cents per kWh.
SQF is a food safety management company that conducts audits and reports its findings on companies that voluntarily subscribe to its services. Once an audit is performed, SQF releases the data; from this data, other companies can determine who they want to use for packaging and manufacturing. To facilitate the process, SQF has released a guide that provides directives for processes used in manufacturing.
When the topic of discussion is making ice cream, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t heat, but at Nestlé’s Ice Cream factory in Tulare, California, heat is recovered from air-cooled air compressors to heat process water. “Right out of the gate, everything is pneumatic,” explains Tom Finn, Project Engineer with Nestlé Ice Cream Division. “Air cylinders and air driven motors, the process piping valves which divert, route, stop/start, and mix process fluids, our packaging machinery including rejection, cleaning and vapor removal processes, all of these rely on compressed air.
EnergAir’s unrivalled expertise in compressed air management is helping to save in excess of $50,000 per year at Whirlpool Corporation’s Ottawa, Ohio production facility. Whirlpool is the largest global manufacturer of home appliances and employs almost 70,000 people in more than 60 production and technology centres around the world. The Whirlpool plant in Ottawa manufactures a market-leading range of trash compactors, chest freezers, upright freezers and refrigerators.    
Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine interviewed Frank Mueller (President) and Stephen Horne (Blower Product Manager) from Kaeser Compressors. Kaeser Compressors continues to grow both in the U.S. and internationally. We currently employ approximately 4800 people globally. In order to support the demand and maintain our superior quality and quality service levels, we continue to invest in people, facilities and technology.
Productivity is more reliable when equipment can be monitored to detect incipient failures and take corrective action before the plant goes down. But many devices, such as analog control valves, pneumatic valve terminals and field sensors, often do not offer diagnostic feedback, or it is not being used. This white paper describes how this problem is being addressed, and includes an example of pneumatic valve terminals that can monitor, among other things, open load or coil currents at the specific valve and pressure inside the valve terminal.
Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine interviewed Pascal van Putten (CEO) of  VP Instruments.  -- We founded VP Instruments, in 1999, with the mission being to apply our experience with flow sensor technology to compressed air and gas flow applications in laboratories with a “one size fits all applications” concept. We did some trade shows and sold one unit during the first year – a tough start. So we hired a consultant who helped us re-package the technology completely. This led us to launch the VPFlowMate, in 2002, in a small and easy to use package. The company has taken off since then.
As the population continues to grow in the United States, industrial water use will need to continue to fall to help offset the increases in public-supply water use. Water-cooled compressed air systems provide an opportunity for sustainability managers to reduce associated cooling water consumption and costs. If switching to air-cooled air compressors is not possible, understanding the costs and the alternative types of liquid cooling systems is important.
Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine interviewed Dr. Jay Varadaraj, (Managing Director) of ELGi Equipments Ltd. ELGi today is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of air compressors. Like most companies, however, it started with one ambitious person. My grandfather, Lakshminaickenpalayam Govindaswamy (this where the “L” and “G” in ELGi come from) was a bus driver for the British in 1918. He purchased one bus and proceeded to build a fleet peaking at 300 buses. He believed he was in the transportation business so he entered the airline business ultimately withdrawing however when this industry was nationalized.  
The compressed air system in most industrial and commercial facilities is vital to production machinery and processes. When it goes down so does the plant output. This important utility is often one of the most costly energy consumers in a facility. Yet most compressed air system operators have little knowledge of how their compressed air system is performing and, if problems have happened, do not have an accurate record of what went wrong.