Compressed air (CA) systems are an important part of many industrial applications, powering such equipment as air-powered hand tools, actuators and robotics.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), compressed air systems are found in 70 percent of U.S. manufacturing facilities and account for 10 percent of industrial electricity use.
Manufacturers often don't think about CA systems when looking for ways to save energy. In reality, air compressors consume more energy than any other single end use in many industrial plants. There are usually many opportunities to improve CA system efficiency, some of which are simple to recognize and relatively inexpensive to fix.
Reduce System Pressure
Operating a CA system above the minimum necessary pressure uses more energy to pump air and means that more air is lost to leaks. Sometimes only one application requires higher pressure, and a booster compressor or separate compressor for that application can be cost effective.
Get Rid of Leaks
Leaks can waste 20 to 30 percent of compressor output, as well as reducing system pressure. Reduced system pressure can cause air tools to operate inefficiently. The most effective way to find leaks is an ultrasonic leak detector, but many leaks can be located by sound.
Find More Efficient Applications
Compressed air is used in a variety of applications that could be done more efficiently with another power source.
Your business development manager can help you find more ways to improve your CA efficiency.
For more information, see the compressed air section of the DOE Industrial Technologies Program web site.