Industrial Utility Efficiency    


A food processor was having compressed air problems, so they invited a compressed air auditor into their plant for an assessment and to help them size future permanent air compressors. The plant was experiencing low air pressure and detecting water in the compressed air lines despite having a desiccant air dryer. The auditor thoroughly analyzed the compressed air system production equipment and did end-use assessment and leakage detection. This article discusses the findings leading to a potential cost savings of 52% of the current level.
Energy conservation measures (ECMs) associated with compressed air have received a significant amount of attention over the years, mostly due to a reasonably short financial return compared with other energy-consuming equipment. Over time, many of the recommended corrective actions to reduce compressed air energy consumption were simplified so much that they did not lead to positive results. One of the most common compressed air ECMs is reducing system pressure, and it leverages the best practice calculation —.5 percent power per psi — outlined in the Department of Energy’s Compressed Air Challenge. This article highlights more common issues associated with estimating energy conservation resulting from changing system pressure.
A couple of key principles must be considered if we want to understand and control the operating costs of your compressed air system. First, compressors pump air, they do not make pressure. The system creates the back pressure which the compressors must pump against. When the compressor delivers more air than the demand requires, the pressure rises and of course, the reverse is also true. Secondly, any component or application which forces the pressure to be higher than necessary creates wasted energy in the system. This waste is not linear to the increase in pressure but can be exponential for many reasons. However, the main contributors are artificial demand and the size of the compressors in the system.
International Wire Group, Inc. (IWG) headquartered in Camden, NY is the largest bare copper wire and copper wire products manufacturer in the United States with expanding operations in Europe. Products include a broad line of copper wire configurations and gauges with a variety of electrical and conductive characteristics , which are utilized by a wide variety of customers primarily in the industrial and energy, electronics, data communications, aerospace and defense, medical electronics and devices, automotive, and consumer and appliance industries.
As in most industrial categories, compressed air is critical to the operations of a plastics plant whether it is blow molding, injection molding, or other processes. The opportunities to improve supply side (compressor room) efficiency are similar to all industrial compressed air systems, but are even more prevalent in some plastics facilities, especially blow molding.
Pneumatic air cylinders play a major role in allowing a modern sawmill to produce at the high-speed production rates required. Stable air pressure is critical to allow the air cylinders to respond in a timely manner and avoid any production delays.
This automotive assembly facility has tremendous peaks and valleys in compressed air demand. Our audit using flow meters and pressure transducers with calibrated gauges has proven this. Our Phase 1 audit recommends the use of storage tanks and flow meters to reduce air consumption while stabilizing pressure.
“Instead of adding supply equipment, we fix air leaks and incorporate high-efficiency air nozzles, blower packages and point-of-use receivers.” These demand-side actions stabilize compressed air system pressure and this ultimately increases production output, reduces production down-time and spoilage costs, and decreases the power costs of the compressed air system.
Much attention and expense is often directed towards optimizing compressor control, clean-up equipment, system pressure / flow control and main system piping in an attempt to maintain adequate and stable pressure at the end use. Often forgotten are the components of the distribution system between the main system header and the end use.
Roxane Laboratories, Inc., a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation located in Columbus, Ohio, created a world-class air system that generated $61,314 per year in electrical energy cost savings (1,156,868 kWh), improved productivity and quality, and allowed the successful completion of a significant plant expansion.
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)