Compressed air is a vital part of industrial operations, powering pneumatic tools. It is often thought of as a “free” source of energy when in fact it is one of the least efficient and most expensive in the industry. Even the smallest compressed air system can be a relatively large component of energy consumption and cost. Fortunately, many simple and very cost effective changes can be made to improve efficiency.
- The keys to compressed air efficiency are proper controls and sufficient storage.
- Savings from installing efficient air compressors with storage typically fall in the range of 30% to 60%.
- Over the life of an air compressor, the cost of energy consumed can be six times higher than the purchase cost.
Enhancing Efficiency and Reliability
Improving compressed air efficiency is generally the best opportunity industrial companies have to make a significant and immediate impact on their electric bill. After available incentives, these improvements often can be paid back in as little as one year. Energy efficiency opportunities include:
- Comprehensive system evaluations
- New compressors
- Refrigerated dryers
- Additional storage
- Enhanced controls
- Piping improvements
- Leak repair
Determining Potential Savings
There are standard methodologies recognized in the industry for projecting the impact of efficiency measures for compressed air. A national program known as the Compressed Air Challenge provides educational information on energy saving potential of compressed air systems. Visit the Compressed Air Challenge website at www.compressedairchallenge.org/ for more information.