Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Compressor Controls

This article is going to identify two air compressor control situations that will preclude translating air use reduction in the production area into lower input energy into the air compressor.
Chicago Heights Steel, Chicago Heights, Ill., leveraged an advanced data monitoring system and adopted a demand-based compressor air management approach to save 2.5 million kWh and $215,037 per year in energy costs. With an incentive of $188, 714 from local utility ComEd, the project delivered a payback of 2.4 months.
As energy costs continue to rise it becomes increasingly important for industrial operations to reduce waste and inefficiencies wherever possible. It’s why an innovative company known as Lightapp has developed an intelligent resource management software platform to help manufacturers and other industrial users reduce energy consumption and save costs in the process.
The Pepsi bottling plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba has upgraded both their main 100 psi compressed air system and their 600 psi PET bottling system in two separate projects. The system improvements have saved the company both maintenance and electrical operating costs, and even reduced some winter heating demand.
A Canadian poultry plant has upgraded their aging compressed air system for their new expansion, making it significantly more energy efficient and also solving ongoing pressure problems. The project has given the facility a much better system overall and increased system capacity enough to cover additional compressed air load. This article describes what was done to improve their compressed air system.
A large mining complex in a remote northern region of the world invited a compressed air auditor in to assess the efficiency of a problematic system. Site personnel and their air compressor supplier were concerned a system in one of the buildings was not running optimally, and wanted to know what size of compressor to install in the facility. The auditor found significant savings in this target system, but even larger potential savings were found in other ancillary systems in the complex, as part of an extra investigation conducted while at the site. Overall, the potential energy savings total more than half of a million dollars, if all recommendations are implemented.
Great Plains has carved a global reputation for producing world-class seeding equipment since it first opened its doors in 1976. Great Plains manufactures a range of products from grain drills and planters, to compact drills and tillage equipment. They have established an international business built on expertise, knowledge and a commitment to producing products meeting the rigorous demands of the agricultural sector.
Load-sharing is an important part of a multiple centrifugal-compressor master control system. It minimizes blow-off based on the available turn-down. In addition, remote start-stop saves more energy if load floats between different ranges. Finally, adding a screw compressor and implementing a hybrid control system might save the most energy and provide the best back-up. In any case, a well-instrumented system allows engineers and operators to assess, optimize and tune the system.
When a system has the right combination of VFD and base-load air compressors, how do you coordinate their control? What tells the air compressors to run and load, to have just enough (or no) base-load air compressors and a VFD running, all the time air is needed? Appropriate master controls are needed. These controls are often called “sequencers” or “master control systems”.
It is becoming a “best practice” to install a variable frequency drive (VFD) air compressor whenever one is replacing an old air compressor.  As a result, real systems have fixed-speed and VFD air compressors, mixed.  I have observed several VFD compressor sizing methods.  In my last article, I referred to a common method: size one VFD compressor for the whole system.  This can work.  However, if it doesn’t meet a higher peak demand, one or more of the old compressors will be started, and a mixed system results.   Another method is to replace a compressor with the same size, but with a VFD.  If the compressor that was replaced is large, a big VFD is installed.  If small, a small one.
A newly constructed ethanol plant experienced control gap issues shortly after comissioning.  This article discusses the cause of the issue and how the problem was solved.