12 Ways to turn your compressor into a sustainable source of energy
Use the right technology for your application
It is vital that any compressed air system is correctly sized and specified to a site’s demands. Parameters to be considered include operating pressure, volume flow and the required compressed air quality according to ISO8573-1:2010.
Manufacturers are under increased pressure to ‘do more with less’ and reduce waste. Therefore it is essential for operators to choose sustainable compressed air solutions that use innovative methods to reduce waste. For example, the CompAir DH series of air compressors feature a high efficiency water purification system. This tried and tested reverse osmosis filtration provides high quality purified water to lubricate, seal and cool the compression process. Using a permeate pump the water required is reduced to a minimum.
The complete package.
Compromises should not be made on downstream equipment, such as dryers, as these products are a key means of ensuring the quality and efficiency of the whole system and therefore reducing the cost to the environment. Designed and manufactured at our dedicated air treatment sites, CompAir’s new air treatment solutions are quality controlled to the highest standards, while optimising logistics and therefore CO2 emissions. This also means customers benefit from faster product lead times.
Specify the correct air receiver size
The air receiver size has a direct impact on reliability and energy efficiency. Therefore, make sure the air reservoirs are correctly sized for the application. As a rule, the better the control system of the compressor is matched to demand (speed-controlled systems), the smaller the compressed air receiver can be. Load/idle running-controlled systems require larger container volumes to reduce the switching operations of the compressor drives. This reduces wear and improves energy efficiency.
Carry out an air audit
When buying a new compressor or choosing to upgrade an existing system, it’s important to have an energy audit carried out. With industry averages suggesting that energy costs represent more than 80% of a compressor’s whole life costs, data-logging equipment can help pinpoint inefficiencies and manage equipment performance. The results will show the exact pressure and volume flow of the entire system, ensuring that properly sized compressors are installed. This allows system efficiency to be optimised, helping to reduce energy consumption and improve sustainability, while ensuring the reliability of the overall system.
Size downstream equipment correctly
When selecting filters, not only is the validated separation efficiency (ISO12500-1) important, but the lowest possible flow resistance must also be achieved, as this directly affects the energy requirements of the compressor. Also, be aware of network pressure. The higher the operating pressure, the higher the energy consumption. Therefore, the entire network with all its components should be optimised for low differential pressure. With filter elements, the differential pressure increases with service life, so they must be replaced regularly.
In a compressed air network that is only moderately maintained, up to 20% or even 30% of the generated compressed air can be lost due to leaks. Regular leakage detection is, therefore, a must. There are many reasons for leaks, from shut-off valves to manual condensate valves being left open, as well as leaking hoses, couplings, pipes, flanges, and pipe joints. Such oversights and deterioration over time can result in large additional costs; the Carbon Trust found that just one 3 mm leak could cost a company over £ 1,000 a year in wasted energy, with an energy loss equivalent to 16 tonnes of CO2 emission. The cost of detecting and eliminating leaks pays for itself within a few months.
Eliminate off-load running
No-load operation requires special attention, as the compressor continues to run and consumes energy without producing compressed air. In addition, the compressor is stopped and restarted, which leads to increased wear and tear on components and increases operating costs due to higher maintenance outlay and energy consumption. Proper sizing of the system, or the installation of an intelligent compressor control system to ensure the most suitable configuration for the application, will ensure highly efficient and reliable operation
Variable speed drive compressors use an intelligent drive system to continuously alter the motor speed to match the air demand. This drive controls the speed of the unit depending on the demand, fluctuating the amount of power that is used to match the output required. When the demand slows, the compressed air system will reduce motor speed and power consumption.
70% to 94% of the energy consumed by air compressors is recoverable, but without energy recovery this heat is lost. Recovering heat from com-pressed air generation reduces the need for purchasing energy, and it is this reduction that results in lower CO2 emissions and operating costs. Due to the high cost of energy, these savings can be significant in terms of helping companies to meet their carbon reduction targets and improve manufacturing plant profitability. ULTIMA’s innovative and patented closed package cooling system allows for the collection and recovery of up to 98 % of the heat generated during the compression process.
IIoT connectivity & predictive maintenance
Industry 4.0 technology is creating a real opportunity for compressed air users to consider how data can help improve compressor performance. These insights not only help highlight immediate issues, but also enable operators to forecast for potential future problems. Furthermore, predictive maintenance models based on real-time data can be established to help reduce energy consumption and wastage, improve process efficiencies, and limit risks. iConn monitoring from CompAir provides compressed air users with comprehensive, real-time machine data. Alarms and warnings reduce the risk of downtime, while remote sites can be easily monitored, and performance optimised.
Service agreements & genuine parts
The largest operating cost for a compressed air system is electricity consumption. Our Assure Service Agreements help maintain compressor efficiency by ensuring that genuine parts like filter and fluids are kept in optimal condition, and controls are tuned for peak performance.