Compressed air systems are a vital part of several industries, including the manufacturing and healthcare industries. Over 70% of the electricity powering a compressed air system ends up as waste heat, but there are ways to save the energy that compressed air systems waste while they’re working on your production line.
The first way to save energy on your production line is to reduce leaks. Pipes that are older than 5 years are more likely to have leaks that you cannot hear, and because it takes energy to generate all compressed air, any air leaks are a waste of production, energy, and money. A clean, dry pipe indicates that there are no corrosion issues, and that the air being produced is good quality. Pipes that have dust in them is caused by particles in the compressed air. If compressed air is not filtered, or if the filter is clogged, there is a risk of product contamination
Next, reduce the pressure. The higher the pressure, the more energy required. Avoiding unnecessarily high pressure is also a good way to save energy. Lower air pressures also reduce the flow rate to any possible leaks in the pipes. Try to only run your pressure at the level you need it to be at for optimal output. Any higher or lower, and energy is still wasted.
Optimise controls and do regular maintenance on your compressed air system. A compressed air system has several parts that make up the whole, functioning unit. Regular maintenance may seem like a waste of time, but it may be during these checks that something off is noticed, which could lead to an issue getting fixed way before it becomes a costly problem.
Check that your condensate drains aren’t stuck open or replace them with timer drains where you can. This will assist in reducing the amount of compressed air wasted. Similarly, try to systematically change your system’s filters. This will ensure the quality of your air, and help reduce pressure drops.
Turn off your machines when they aren’t in use. There’s no need for a compressed air machine to be functioning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Turning them off will reduce energy consumption, and even help you save on your electricity bills. When you are using the machines, however, recover the heat that is usually lost and wasted. Compressing air generates a lot of heat that can be reused around your factory.
Finally, identify inappropriate uses of compressed air, and eliminate those factors. Inappropriate uses of compressed air can include any action or application that can be done in a more efficient manner than by using compressed air.
By being knowledgeable about all of the ways that compressed air systems can potentially waste energy, you’ll be more aware of them, and hopefully be able to catch them before they have any negative affects on your energy usage. You’ll be surprised to learn how much energy is being wasted, and how easy some of the fixes for them are.