Compressed Air Systems Equipment Reliability & Maintenance Center

Stop Compressed Air Waste

EP Editorial Staff | November 20, 2020

These tips will help you improve your compressed-air system’s performance and reduce energy consumption.

The most expensive component in the total cost of compressed air is energy.

In fact, over the lifespan of a typical compressor, energy typically costs several times more than the purchase price of the compressor. The bottom line: Maximizing energy efficiency saves you money. To help you analyze/reduce your system’s energy consumption, here are seven steps from the article 10 Steps to Savings, provided by the Compressed Air & Gas Institute (CAGI, Cleveland, cagi.org). To read the entire article, click here.

Turn it off

There are 168 hr. in a week, but most compressed-air systems only run at or near full capacity between 60 and 100 hr. Depending on your shift pattern, turning your compressors off during the evenings and weekends could reduce your energy bills as much as 20%.

Fix existing leaks

A 0.25-in. air leak at 100 psi will cost you more than $2,500/yr. Because it takes energy to generate compressed air, any air that leaks is money wasted. Approximately 80% of air leaks are inaudible. To minimize these problems, third-party leak-detection help may be a necessity.

Prevent new leaks

Be proactive and look inside your piping system. A clean, dry pipe indicates good-quality air and no corrosion issues. Dust in the pipe is caused by particles in the compressed air. If compressed air is not filtered, or if the filter is clogged, pressure drops will occur, and the risk of end-product contamination will increase. Dust and sludge in a compressed-air piping system will quickly cause corrosion and greatly increase the number of leaks. Dried and filtered compressed air keeps piping clean.

Operate at required pressures, not beyond

Each 2-psig reduction in pressure cuts energy consumption 1%. Check the system pressure and resist the urge to turn it up to compensate for leaks or drops in pressure due to piping problems or clogged filters. A central supply-side controller can greatly reduce the operational pressure band and orchestrate air production much more efficiently and effectively.

Check condensate drains

Condensate drains on timers should be adjusted periodically to ensure they open as intended or aren’t stuck open. Better yet, replace timer drains with zero-loss drains to stop wasting compressed air.

Optimize piping infrastructure

A piping system design should optimize transfer of compressed air, at the desired flow and pressure, to the point of use. Increasing the size of a pipe from 2 in. to 3 in. can reduce pressure drop as much as 50%. Shortening the distance air has to travel can further reduce pressure drops by 20% to 40%.

Change filters systematically

Inspect and replace filters systematically to ensure air quality and prevent pressure drops. Go beyond the air compressor and compressor room. There are several airline and point-of-use filters within a facility. Those are just as important to maintain as the air compressor and air-compressor room filters. EP

To read the entire article and acquire more information about the Compressed Air & Gas Institute, visit the organization’s website at cagi.org. The full article is here.

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