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.
A comprehensive compressed air system analysis should include an examination of both air supply and usage and the interaction between the supply and demand. Auditors typically measure the output cfm of a compressed air system and the input kW, calculate energy consumption in kilowatt-hours, and determine the annual cost of operating the system. The auditor may also measure total air losses caused by leaks and locate those that are significant.
When it comes to conserving energy in compressed air nothing is sexier than a big, old, oil-free 300 horsepower variable speed drive air compressor coupled with a heat of compression dryer tied to an energy management system with all the trimmings. If you’re like me, it’s hard not to let out a manly grunt after reading that sentence.
With energy cost increasing at 7.5% per annum for the past few years, most facilities managers and maintenance professionals are looking for the best opportunities for excellent return on investment projects, which can drive their operating costs in the opposite direction. Compressed air is an area where significant improvements are readily available.
Perhaps your facility recently had a compressed air system survey, conducted by an air systems services company, that resulted in a couple of major recommendations, such as:  • Install a new smaller compressor and new control systems on all of the units • Repair the many air leaks (identified as 30% of your system capacity)  
A basic element in the Compressed Air Challenge® (CAC) philosophy is that compressed air system optimization should be addressed using the “Systems Approach”. This method recognizes that improving and maintaining peak compressed air system performance requires addressing both the supply and the demand sides of a system and understanding how the two interact. “The road to energy efficiency involves more than just fixing the leaks,” says Ross Orr, an experienced auditor with Scales Industrial Technologies and a certified CAC instructor.
This factory currently spends $735,757 annually on the electricity required to operate the compressed air system at its plant. The group of projects recommended in the system assessment will reduce these energy costs by an estimated $364,211 (49% of current use). Estimated costs for completing the recommended projects total $435,800. This figure represents a simple payback period of 14.4 months.
Compressed air leaks - every system has them.  Is a leak identification and control program economically rewarding and/or necessary? Upper management sometimes doesn’t recognize the true cost of not repairing air leaks.  Knowing the high cost of compressed air, why wouldn’t every facility with a compressed air piping system implement a continuous leak identification and repair program?
The snack food facility is running with two normally separated compressed air production systems: the main plant system and the nitrogen system.
This commercial printing facility is located in the Northeastern part of the U.S.  Like most facilities, the plant has seen many changes over the years.
Sustainability at RRD starts with a philosophy. It is then executed through a global policy and objectives. RRD’s philosophy does not see sustainability as making a choice between being cost-effective and improving environmental impacts. On the contrary, sustainability represents integrating these two factors. This philosophy guides our sustainability objectives and strategies.