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Compressed Air

Compressed Air

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Published by: Zahid Sb on Jun 25, 2009
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02/01/2013

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Power Quality & Utilisation Guide
 
Section 7: Energy Efficiency
www.leonardo-energy.org
 
February 2007
Compressed Air
Jean Timmermans, Laborelec
 
1
 
Introduction 
 ....................................................................................................2
 
 
Technical aspects of compressed air 
 .......................................................3
 
2.1
 
Production of compressed air
...........................................................................3
 
2.2
 
Dealing with variable demands
.........................................................................3
 
 
Energy savings techniques 
........................................................................5
 
3.1
 
System Master Controls
.....................................................................................5
 
3.2
 
Improving the specific consumption with Variable Speed drives
...........6
 
3.3
 
Improving the production efficiency by reducing the air inlettemperature.
......................................................................................................................7
 
3.4
 
Energy-efficient distribution of compressed air
..........................................7
 
3.5
 
Enhancing the system performance by using dryers
.................................8
 
3.6
 
Appropriate use of compressed air can save a lot of energy
...................8
 
3.7
 
Leaks cost a lot of money, but they can be reduced
..................................8
 
3.8
 
Lower outlet pressure results in high savings
.............................................9
 
3.9
 
Heat recovery systems can have pay-backs of less than two years
....10
 
 
Conclusions 
 .................................................................................................11
 
 
References 
 ....................................................................................................11
 
 
 
 © European Copper Institute & Laborelec
www.leonardo-energy.org
 
1 Introduction
Compressed air is a well-known and proven technology and has many applications inindustry. It is used in extrusion processes, paint spraying, blow moulding but also in moregeneric processes as vacuum production, manipulation processes, and for controlling andtransportation applications.But delivering compressed air to a manufacturing facility is an expensive operation. Deliveryrequires costly equipment that consumes significant amounts of electricity and needsfrequent maintenance.The following table shows the different components of the total cost of compressed air:Absolute price:Production: 4,45 8,90 / kNm
3
 Driers: 0,45 1,60 / kNm
3
 Investment: 0,75 1,00 / kNm
3
 Maintenance: 0,60 1,00 / kNm
3
 Supplementary costs:Distribution 0,25 0,75 / kNm
3
 Leaks 0,75 2,25 / kNm
3
 Total Cost: 7,25 15,50 / kNm
3
 The energy consumption represents between 60 and 90% of the total cost related tocompressed air and is far more dominant than the investment and maintenance cost.
energy76%maintenance11%investment12%water1%
 Figure 1: Cost breakdown for compressed air productionIn general, the energy cost related to a compressed air system represents about 10 tot 15%of the electricity bill of an industrial consumer. This application guide gives an overview oftechnical and organizational solutions that will maximize the energetical efficiency of thecomplete system. Implementation of these measures can save up to 25% of the electricitycosts related to compressed air systems.
 
 
 © European Copper Institute & Laborelec
www.leonardo-energy.org
 
2 Technical aspects of compressed air
2.1 Production of compressed air
For the production of compressed air 3 main types of compressors are used:
 Reciprocating or piston compressors
 Rotary Screw compressors
 Rotary centrifugal compressorsReciprocating compressors are positive displacement machines: they increase the pressureof the air by reducing its volume. This means they are taking in successive volumes of air,which is confined within a closed space, and elevating the air to a higher pressure. Thereciprocating compressor accomplishes this by a piston within a cylinder as the compressingand displacing element. The compressors are available in a single-stage or multi-stageconfiguration, depending on the pressure level. Piston compressors have a high efficiency(75%) but require considerable maintenance, due to the piston-valves.Rotary screw compressors are positive displacement compressors as well. This type ofcompressors consists of two rotors within a casing where the rotors compress the airinternally. Since there are no valves, maintenance is less intensive. These units are basicallyoil cooled (with air cooled or water cooled oil coolers), where the oil seals the internalclearances. The efficiency is about 71%.Oil free screw compressors utilize specially designed air ends to compress air without oil inthe compression chamber yielding true oil free air. The efficiency of this type of compressorsis about 73%The centrifugal compressor is a dynamic compressor, which depends on transfer of energyfrom a rotating impeller tot the air. Centrifugal compressors produce high-pressure dischargeby converting angular momentum imparted by the rotating impeller. These types ofcompressors are designed for higher capacity because flow through the compressor iscontinuous. The efficiency is about 75%.
2.2 Dealing with variable demands
The air demand changes continuously in an industrial factory. Therefore, system controlsneed to mach the compressed air supply with the system demand and are one of the mostimportant determinants in the overall system energy efficiency. The classic control is theload/unload control. The system pressure is monitored and unloads the compressor whenthe discharge pressure is adequate. When the system pressure reaches a predeterminedminimum level, the compressor is loaded, and pressure will rise. As the motor runscontinuously, an unloaded rotary screw compressor will consume 15 to 35% of full loadpower, while delivering no useful work. When the demand is volatile, there are manyswitches between load and unload, resulting in a consumption during unload periods of 40%or even higher.When changing from load to unload, the minimal unload power is not reached immediately.Fast changes from load to unload results in a higher average unload power. Storage can beused to control demand variability in a compressed air system. Receiver tanks storecompressed air, that can satisfy temporary demands for compressed air without largepressure drops in the system. This enables smaller compressors to satisfy the variableloads. Because smaller compressor run more continuously tan large compressors, this canresult in significant energy savings.

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