Compressed Air Systems

Compressed air stores and transmits energy for use by equipment. Just as electric potential will perform work to return to lower voltage, pressurized air performs work to return to atmospheric pressure. With a compressed air system a single compressor motor can supply power to machines all over the plant, thus eliminating the need for numerous and dispersed electric motors. This advantage must be balanced against the relative inefficiency of compressed air systems, which can be as low as 10% or less. Air compressors are often the single largest pieces of electrical equipment in plants. On a national scale, they are the second largest consumers of industrial electricity use. Thus, they naturally attract our attention. Moreover, they are frequently not sized or operated in an optimal manner and the potential savings for improving the system are great. Total Industrial Electrical Consumption 1972 (billions kWh) Total Industrial Motor Drive (except HVAC) Pumps 143 Compressors 83 Blowers and Fans 73 Machine Tools 40 Other Integral-hp Applications 52 DC Drives 47 Fractional-hp Applications 20 Other (Electrolytic, direct Heat, HVAC, Lighting, etc.) Total The principal components of a compressed air system are: • Compressor • After-cooler • Receiver tank • Dryer • Air distribution system • Pneumatic tools


142 600

Compressed Air Systems


Source: Compressed Air Systems, DOE/CS/40520-T2, 1984. The components of a compressed air system are described in the sections that follow.

The basic types of compressors are: • Reciprocating (piston) • Rotary (screw) • Centrifugal (>200 hp) Compressors are either: • Water cooled • Air cooled Very large compressors (>500 hp) are almost always water cooled. Compressors are either: • Single stage (∆Ptotal = ∆P1) • Multi stage (∆Ptotal = ∆Pstage1+ ∆Pstage2 + …)
• often with intercooling between stages (more efficient, but higher first cost)

Compressed Air Systems


Reciprocating compressors • Single acting (compression on one-side of piston) • Double acting (compression on both sides of piston) • Noisy • Unloaded power = 0 to 30% of full load power

Source: Compressed Air Systems, DOE/CS/40520-T2, 1984.

Source: Condensed Air Power Data, Ingersoll-Rand, 1984.

Compressed Air Systems


Power draw is 100% at full load.Two-stage reciprocating air compressor with intercooler and double acting pistons (Source: Ingersoll-Rand product literature). Compressed Air Systems 4 . 78%. 46% and 39% at part loads. and 27% when unloaded.

Centrifugal • Very large compressors only • Always multi-stage Source: Condensed Air Power Data. Ingersoll-Rand.Rotary-Screw Compressors • Double helical screws compress air • Quiet. Ingersoll-Rand. 1984. Compressed Air Systems 5 . reliable • Unloaded power = 60% to 70% of full load power Source: Condensed Air Power Data. 1984.

Rotary Vane Compressor Compressed Air Systems 6 .

$31.263 Compressed Air Systems 7 . $26.125 4. 417CFM @ 125PSIG. Kaeser CSD100S. 100HP. consider the following case: Number Tools Tool Type A 10 Tool Type B 5 Total 15 scfm/tool 20 10 Diversity factor 20% 40% Total scfm 200 50 250 Average scfm 40 20 60 Most compressors deliver about 4 scfm per brake hp. 1. Ingersoll Rand EP100. Gardner Denver. $24.755 6.125 5. Kaesar CSD100. $27. EBP saverII 100HP. The compressor is usually set to run at a discharge pressure high enough to meet the requirements of the equipment that requires the highest line pressure. 494CFM @ 125PSIG. and then size the compressor to meet this load. Buy 2 (or 3) x 10 hp compressors so 1 (or 2) is always fully loaded and the part-load penalty is small for the second compressor. $28. 434CFM @ 125PSIG. 440CFM@125PSIG. it won't be able to handle the peak load. If sized to meet the average load. 2. 414@125PSIG. This is called the "part-load dilemma". Size AC for average load. hence the compressor is most efficient if sized to meet the average facility load. This also adds redundancy for machine failure and servicing. but add storage capacity in system for peaks. Compressor Costs Costs for 100-hp air compressors 1/2008 are shown below. Gardner Denver VS-70-94HP variable speed drive. however. add 10% for leakage. Sizing for the average and peak loads results in very different compressors: Average load: 60 scfm / 4 scfm/hp = 15 hp Peak load: 250 scmf / 4 scfm/hp = 60 hp Solutions to the part-load dilemma are: 1. GA75-125 100HP. As an example.790 2. 100HP. Both of these methods regularly result in oversized compressors. The other standard sizing method is to buy a new compressor that is bigger than the old compressor.Compressor Sizing All compressors are most efficient at full load.948 3. The standard sizing procedure is find the sum of the scfm requirements of all the individual equipment. Atlas Copco. $24.

It then runs “unloaded” until the system pressure drops to the lower activation pressure.Compressor Controls Compressor controls typically seek to maintain the system air pressure within some pressure range. A typical pressure range may is between 100 psig and 110 psig. However. it is not adding compressed air to the system. There are three main control strategies for maintaining the pressure within such a range. It then turns itself off. Thus. it is important that the “idle-trip” or sleep” mode is activated so that the compressor turns off if it runs unloaded for more than 10 minutes. When running unloaded. Compressed Air Systems 8 . the compressor “loads” and begins to add compressed air to the system when the system pressure falls to the lower activation pressure. since the compressor draws no power whenever the pressure is within the required range. rotary screw compressors typically partially close the air inlet valve and bleed the remaining compressed air into atmosphere. On/Off Control In on/off control. Reciprocating compressors are the only type of compressor that can utilize on/off control. the compressor will cycle on and off too frequently. When unloaded. The compressor continues to run and add compressed air to the system until the system pressure reaches the upper activation pressure. for an average pressure of 105 psig. The compressor continues to run and add compressed air to the system until the system pressure reaches the upper activation pressure. most rotary screw compressors still draw 50% to 60% of full load power while running unloaded. Load/unload control is more energy efficient than the modulating control described in the next section. On/off control is very efficient. In load/unload control. Load/Unload Control Rotary screw and centrifugal compressors are designed to keep running at all times. If the pressure range is too narrow. On/off control may also employ a timer to reduce short-cycling. the compressor turns on and begins to add compressed air to the system when the system pressure falls to the lower activation pressure.

S DOE. On most compressors. In rotary-screw compressors. most compressors are preset at the factory to load when the air pressure falls below 100 psig and to unload when the air pressure climbs about 110 psig. The cut-in pressure is the pressure at which the compressor loads. Compressed Air Systems 9 . but can be adjusted to up to 30 minutes.Multistep and Modulating Control Reciprocating compressors with multistep control have two or more part-load operating points with controls to select the most efficient point. In addition. the compressor will remain off for a specified period of time before restarting to avoid short-cycling. The Figure below shows the typical relationship between fraction of full-load power consumption and fraction of full-load output capacity for compressors in modulation mode. In most older compressors. Running the compressor in “automatic” mode can result in significant energy savings during periods of light demand for compressed air. the most common type of modulating control varies the position of the inlet valve from full open to full closed in response to compressor output pressure. one knob adjusts the cut-in pressure and another knob adjusts the differential between the cut-in and cut-out pressures. The valve will be fully closed when the pressure reaches the upper activation pressure and the compressor will run unloaded. Older compressors use analog knobs and newer compressors use digital switches to adjust the cut-in and cut-out pressures. the “idle trip” time is preset at the factory for 10 minutes. and the cut-out pressure is the pressure at which the compressor unloads. in which the compressor shuts itself off if it runs unloaded for about 10 minutes. Idle-Trip Control Most compressors come with an “automatic” or “sleep” or “idle trip” control mode. Typical relationship between fraction of full-load power consumption and fraction of full-load output capacity for compressors in modulation mode (Improving Compressed Air System Performance: A Source Book For Industry. U. 2002). Setting Activation (Cut-in and Cut-out) Pressures When operating in load/unload control mode.

the lag compressor could be set to operate from 100 psig to 105 psig. For example. sequencing compressors 2 psig apart with 10 psig pressure bands can create a rather wide variation in compressed air pressure in the plant. with a drain trap. In general. which may adversely affect some operations. Because smaller compressors run more continuously than large compressors. the use of synthetic oil can reduce the number of oil changes from four times to once per year. For example. Lubrication Air compressors require regular oil changes. This stored compressed air can satisfy temporary demands for compressed air without causing large pressure drops in the system. The drain trap should be frequently inspected and cleaned. and the lead compressor set to operate from 102 psig to 112 psig. Although effective. www. the pressure bands can be decreased to as little as 5 psig as long as the compressors do not cycle excessively. but lasts about four times as long. Many new compressors are equipped with digital controls. Thus. Thus. Aftercoolers Most compressed air systems are equipped with an aftercooler to cool the air as it leaves the compressor. the lag compressor should be set to operate from 100 psig to 110 psig. this can result in significant energy A separator. This enables smaller compressors to satisfy the variable loads. adequate compressed air storage is a key component of an energy-efficient compressed air system. manufacturers report that the use of synthetic oil improves the efficiency of the motor. Receiver tanks are generally sized to hold about 10 seconds of compressor capacity. and the lead compressor set to operate from 102 psig to 107 psig. Synthetic oil typically costs about three times as much as standard oil. Thus. However. A digital pressure sensor/switch costs between $300 and $400 (IMF Efector Inc. should be installed immediately after the aftercooler to remove moisture condensed from the air. Compressed Air Systems 10 .. in the preceding example. large pressure bands also increase the variation in plant compressed air pressure. a temperature-based flow-control valve should be installed on the waster discharge side of the aftercooler to conserve water. A clogged drain trap will push water farther into the compressed air system. For example. In addition.ifmefector. Older spring activated analog controls can be replaced with digital controls. If the aftercooler uses water. energy use increases by about 1% for every 2 psig in operating pressure. it is advisable to operate the compressor at the lowest possible pressure. Precise control of pressure set points is easier with digital controls compared to spring-activated analog controls. Increasing the pressure band tends to decrease cycling and may enable the compressor to turn itself off more often. the activation pressures of multiple compressors should be staged. Receiver Tanks Receiver tanks store compressed air. 800-329-8246. If this is a problem.These pressures can be modified to meet individual circumstances. For optimal energy efficiency.

condensation would occur in the distribution pipes and pneumatic equipment as the air cools. According to manufacturer data.006 kW/scfm = 5. For example. A portion of the dry air leaving the left desiccant tank is expanded to about 45 psig and directed downward through the right tank to purge moisture from the tank. To avoid this problem. most compressed air systems include a dryer. The two most common types of dryers are refrigeration dryers and desiccant dryers.25 hp compressor x 4 cfm/hp = 100 cfm x 10/60 min = 17 ft3 However. the power required for a refrigerated dryer is about 0. A picture of a purge-type desiccant dryer is shown below. Refrigeration dryers cool the air to a dew-point temperature of about 35 F and remove condensate. Dryers The air leaving the aftercooler and receiver tank has a relative humidity of 100%.006 kW/scfm. After five minutes. Compressed air flows upward through the left desiccant tank where moisture is adsorbed by the desiccant (in an exothermic reaction which warms the desiccant and air). A drain trap should be installed at the low point on the receiver. we typically recommend much greater storage volumes to modulate system pressure and enable smaller compressors to meet the load. the cycle is reversed and compressed air is dried in the right tank while the left tank is being purged. Desiccant dryers typically reduce the dew point temperature of the compressed air to . which is much dryer than the compressed air leaving refrigerant dryers. The drain trap should be frequently inspected and cleaned. the power draw of a refrigerated dryer would be about: 840 scfm x 0. A clogged drain trap will push water farther into the compressed air system. Compressed Air Systems 11 . The typical price for compressed air storage vessels is about $4 per gallon. in applications where the compressed air demand varies significantly. Basing the size on full load conditions.0 kW Desiccant dryers adsorb water into desiccants that must be regenerated by electric resistance heat and compressed air blasts. the output capacity of the compressor at full load is about 840 scfm.40 F.2 scfm of compressed air per horsepower. assuming a 200-hp compressor generates 4. Without further drying.

25 hp/scfm x 0.To accommodate low-load conditions. Electric-heating desiccant dryers use between 2% to 8% of the compressed air for drying. desiccant dryers should be avoided except in special applications which require very dry air. the power draw of the compressor for purging the desiccant in an unheated purgetype dryer would be about: 840 scfm x 15% x 0. In addition. thus. the tower switch-over is delayed. In the demand-cycle operation.40 F. If so. in addition to the electric heat. Unheated purge-type desiccant dryers use between 14% and 18% of the compressed air for purging. To dry the air to this level. Compressed Air Systems 12 . the purge pressure of 45 psig in some purge-type desiccant dryers can be adjusted downward. some purge-type desiccant dryers also come with a demand-cycle operating mode rather than the timed-cycle operating mode.75 kW/hp / 90% = 26 kW This is about five times as much electricity as a refrigerated dryer would use. Assuming the efficiency of the motor is 90%. which is much dryer than the compressed air leaving refrigerant dryers. the output capacity of the compressor at full load is about 840 scfm. For example. Desiccant dryers typically reduce the dew point temperature of the compressed air to . a dew-point analyzer determines the whether the on-line tower has additional adsorptive capacity at the end of the five-minute cycle.2 scfm of compressed air per horsepower. assuming a 200-hp compressor generates 4. desiccant dryers use much more energy than refrigerant dryers.

Regulators and Lubricators Filters. automatic traps can open frequently when a lot of condensate is fixed the compressed air or infrequently when the air is dry. This is a major source of waste and the condensate removal system should be inspected and evaluated to find more efficient methods. but have a clear bubble or screw assembly on top for adding oil. F-R-L groups are common locations for leaks and should be inspected regularly. Regulators have pressure gauges and valves to adjust the downstream pressure. Filter cartridges should be replaced when the pressure drop across the filter exceeds about 7 psig. in much the same way as steam traps. Automatic traps remove condensate as needed. regulators and lubricators are frequently located in a grouped F-R-L sequence. Automatic traps cost about $400 each and are sometimes referred to as “no-air loss drains”.Condensate Traps and Drains Condensate is removed from the compressed air system by automatic traps and drains. Compressed Air Systems 13 .000 hours of service. it would save energy and compressor wear and tear to reduce the operating pressure of the compressor instead of reducing line pressure with regulators. In general. regulators and other devices that result in a large pressure drop. Drains are typically controlled by a solenoid valve on a timer that opens at a prescribed interval. According to a compressed air service company. the condensate removal system does not function properly and cocks are left partially open over weekends so water doesn’t accumulate in the compressed air lines. According to a compressed air service company. In some plants. a good preventative maintenance program would replace filter cartridges about every 1 year or 8. Most filters have float drains that open to discharge condensate when the condensate level reaches a set point in the filter. Lubricators look like filters. Traps and drains are common locations for compressed air leaks and should be inspected regularly. According to a compressed air service company. to remove condensate. if the all machines in a plant or area use regulators to reduce air pressure. such as automatic traps. Filters. Thus. replacement float drain assemblies cost about $18 and take about 10 minutes to replace. In addition. Regulators reduce downstream air pressure. The filter removes particulates entrained in the compressed air and may have a trap or drain at the bottom. automatic traps are preferable to drains since they should open to remove condensate only as needed. Condensate traps or drains should be located:  After the after cooler  Underneath the receiver tank  At low points in the system  After filters. Lubricators add lubricating oil. a filter cartridge for a filter on a 1-inch line passing about 170 scfm costs about $30 and takes about 10 minutes to replace. The seats on these drains can become damaged or dirty allowing compressed air to continually leak through the drain.

Common pressures are 100 psig at the compressor and 90 psig at the farthest machine. These data assist in identifying and quantifying savings opportunities. Adding compressors at multiple locations tends to increase the time each compressor runs unloaded and increases energy use. The distribution system can also be used as added storage capacity. Compressed Air Systems 14 .1 psi Hose: can generate ∆P = 4 to 5 psi (proper selection of hoses is important!) The most efficient layout utilizes a loop design for the header pipe and a single compressor entry location. Operating at a lower pressure may compromise the ability of the tool to perform its task. Compressor Data Our field data collection sheet is shown on the next page. large headers serve both to minimize pressure drop and increase storage. valves and fittings. hoses. The system should be designed with low pressure-drop valves and fittings so that the total pressure drop from the compressor to the farthest air-using machine is no more than 10 psi. Operating at a higher pressure shortens tool life. Rules of thumb for sizing are: • • • • Main line: size from average cfm to get ∆P = 3 psi Branch line: size from cfm peak to get ∆P = 3psi Feed lines: size from peak cfm to get ∆P . branch lines. Thus. Pneumatic Tools Most pneumatic tools are designed to operate at 90 psig.Distribution System The air distribution system includes headers.

UD-IAC AIR COMPRESSOR DATA SHEET Audit Number: Date: Time of measurements: Air compressor demand at time of measurements (full. centrifugal) Cooling type (water.3φ ) Voltage (volts) Air temperature at intake port (°F) Outside air temperature (°F) Comments: Measured / observed value Compressed Air Systems 15 . air) Operating schedule Control type (manual.3φ ) Unloaded amps (1φ . recip. break. etc.2φ . sleep) Heat reclaimed (yes/no) Activation Loaded (psi) Pressures Unloaded (psi) Initial tank pressure (psi) Line pressure in plant (psi) Highest required pressure in plant (psi) Loaded cycle time (seconds) Total cycle time (seconds) Percent cycle time loaded (loaded/total) Loaded run time (hours) Total run time (hours) Percent run time loaded (loaded/total) Loaded amps (1φ .2φ .): Prepared by: Description Air compressor number x of y Location Serves (plant or specific machines) Rated power (hp) Compressor Type (screw.

1) Use pressure data to determine static pressure drop in the distribution system. www. Compressor Energy Use The following figures show typical brake horsepower requirements for reciprocating. 2) Use pressure data to identify if pressure fluctuations result in insufficient air-pressure for specific equipment. Compressed air flow measurement equipment tends to be expensive for large flow rates/pipes. Depending on the results. 6) Use compressor energy consumption data to optimize a strategy to control multiple compressors. rotary-screw and centrifugal compressors when compressing air to 100 psig. Digital flow sensors with LED displays and 4-20 mA output for data loggers for 1-inch NPT and ½-inch NPT pipe cost about $600 (IMF Efector Inc. Recommended static pressure drop is less than 10 psi between the compressor and the most remote point. pressure at the compressor outlet. we use an average a figure of 4 scfm/hp when estimating compressor efficiency unless we have more precise data. DOE/CS/40520-T2. 3) Use compressor energy consumption data together with manufacturer data to determine the average and peak air Based on these data. locate additional air storage near the equipment that needs more air.. Compressed Air Systems 16 .ifmefector. 1984. Use this information when deciding whether to use pneumatic or alternate power equipment. rather than increase the total pressure for the system. institute an aggressive leak identification and repair program. 5) Use compressor energy consumption data to accurately determine the cost of compressed air. 4) Use compressor energy consumption data when the plant is not operating to indicate the cost of air leaks.Data Logging Monitoring compressor energy consumption and pressure throughout a compressed air system gives valuable information to optimize the system. Source: Compressed Air Systems. and at pressure at multiple points in the air distribution system. If so. 800-329-8246. We recommend logging compressor energy consumption. You may be able to reduce the size or numbers of compressors.

a 50-hp motor may generate more than the expected 50 hp x 4 scfm/hp = 200 scfm. it is common for the motors to be loaded at more than their rated output. In the figure above. 1998. If it runs at service factor 1. The left compression line represents isothermal compression. Thermodynamics. in which air is compressed adiabatically with no internal reversibilities. The required compressor work is the product of the pressure and volume.In compressor applications. Isothermal compression requires less compressor work because the cooling is responsible for part of the decrease in volume.. Actual compression processes lie somewhere in between isentropic and isothermal compression. this is represented as the area to the left of the compression lines. in which the air is cooled to keep the air temperature constant during compression. and are called polytropic compression. M. Thus. it would generate about (1. Compressed Air Systems 17 . Y. and Boles. The right compression line represents isentropic compression. Three thermodynamic models of compression are shown below. Thermodynamics of Air Compression Air compressors work by increasing the pressure and decreasing the volume of air. WGB-McGraw-Hill.5 hp x 4 scfm/hp = 230 scfm. The power savings from two-stage compression with intercooling are shown graphically below. Source: Cengal.15 when fully loaded. Isentropic compression has no cooling and isothermal compression has the maximum cooling possible. Some air compressors utilize two stages of compression with intercooling between the stages to further reduce compressor power.15 x 50 hp) x 4 scfm/hp = 57.

7 hp = 24 scfm /hp Whole-System Inside-Out Approach to Savings Opportunities In our experience. Y. application of the whole-system inside-out approach leads to the greatest savings for the least first cost.114 scfm / 135 hp = 8. a 135-hp positive displacement blower provides 1.. Thermodynamics. The scfm per hp is about: 20 psig: 1. and Boles. The The scfm per hp at these operating conditions are: 20 psig: 310 scfm / 43 hp = 7.0 < k < 0.3 scfm /hp Similarly.Source: Cengal. Begin by minimizing end-uses of compressed air. 1998. Low-Pressure Blowers Low pressure blowers provide compressed air at pressures up to 20 psig using much less electricity than traditional air compressors.2857 for isentropic compression of air and 1. WGB-McGraw-Hill. which generate about 4.2 scfm /hp 5 psig: 423 scfm / 17.2 scfm/hp when operating at about 100 psig. where P = absolute pressure. k = 1 for isothermal compression.7 bhp to provide 423 scfm at 5 psig.2857 for polytropic compression. After the required quantity of Compressed Air Systems 18 . k= 0. the positive displacement Gardner Denver Cycloblower (which can provide between 75 and 6700 cfm at pressures up to 20 psig) requires 43 bhp to provide 310 scfm at 20 psig and 17. v = specific volume.114 scfm of air at a supply pressure of 20 psig. it can be shown that Pvk = constant during the compression process. For example. then investigate the distribution system for leaks and excess pressure drops. M. Assuming that air can be treated as an ideal gas.

61 for a sharp edged EXAIR Corporation 1250 Century Circle North Cincinnati Ohio 45246-3309 www. investigate the compressors for energy savings opportunities.exair.96 1/8 " 15.5303 x A (in2) x C x P (psia) / T (R ) where C = 0.97 for a smooth edged hole and C = 0. Equivalent Hole Diameter Leakage Rate scfm 1/64 " 0.compressed air has been minimized and the lowest pressure setting identified. 296th Avenue Wickenburg AZ 85390 Phone : 520 684 5030 Fax : 520 684 4916 www. 1998) W(lb/s) = 0. We recommend inspecting the compressed-air system for leaks once a week by listening for leaks when all machinery is off except the air compressor. we use the following table. DOE/CS/ Fix Leaks In The Distribution System • Leaks are expensive! Most compressed air systems lose between 5% and 20% of compressed air to leaks.A. Moss equation (Ingersoll-Rand Condensed Air Power Data.arizonavortex. • To estimate leakage rates from compressed air systems at 100 psig.44 3/8 " 142.25 1/32 " 0. The values in this table were computed from the S. 1984. The equation can be modified to show air leakage in standard cubic feet per minute at T = 70 F = 530 R and the density of air at 70 F is 0.74 Source: Compressed Air Systems.86 1/4 " 63. Manufacturers of Venturi nozzles that amplify flow by up to 20 to 1 include: Arizona Vortex Tube Manufacturing Company 51235 N.99 1/16 " 3. Minimize End Uses Of Compressed Air • Is compressed air the best source of power for the job? • Use blowers instead of compressed air.7494 lb/ft3 such that: Compressed Air Systems 19 . • Use valves and sensors to shut of compressed air when not needed • Use Venturi nozzles to reduce compressed air flow.

000 hours per year and electricity costs $0.61 x P (psia) / [ 530( R) x 0.7% Wloaded.4 kW x 5.4 kW x $14.07494 lb/ft3] x 60 s/min V (scfm) = 8.2857 for isentropic expansion of air W = m cp T1 [(P2/P1)k -1] Compressed Air Systems 20 . Tin = 90 F.6 kW = 1.avg = 50 F hence T1lo = 50 F.75 kW/hp / 90% x 8.T1) For polytropic expansion: T2 = T1 (P2/P1)k W = m cp T1 [(P2/P1)k -1] Fraction savings = (WT1high .25 hp per scfm of compressed air.3 kW Waverage.T1) For polytropic expansion: T2 = T1 (P2/P1)k k = 0.047) =35.WT1low) / WT1high Fraction savings = (T1high .25 hp/scfm x 0.4 kW Demand savings = 1.8356 x [D (in)]2 x P (psia) We also assume that most compressors use 0.06 /kWh = $400 /yr Use Outside Air For Compression Theory W = m cp (T2 .000 hr/yr x $ = 37 kW x (1-0.6 kW Demand savings = 33 kW – 31.62 /kW-mo x 12 mo/yr = $246 /yr Usage savings = 1.02 /kWh = $140 /yr Total savings: $246 /yr + $140 /yr = $386 /yr Cost of 16 ft of 3" PVC pipe w/ fg insulation = $50 + (4 hr x $25 /hr labor) = $150 Simple payback = $150 / $386 /yr x 12 mo/yr = 5 months Reduce Operating Pressure Theory W = m cp (T2 .V (scfm) = = (60% x 35.000 hr/yr x $0. T1high = 75 F Fraction savings = [(75 + 460) R – (50 + 460) R ] / (75 + 460) R = 4.5303 x π / 4 x [D (in)]2 x 0. dT = 90 – 65 = 25 F = constant Toa. Example Annual electricity savings from fixing a single 1/16-inch diameter leak if a 90% efficient compressor runs 8.000 hr/yr at 480 V Measure: loaded (53 A) 60% of time and unloaded (40 A) 40 % of time Compress outside air if inside air = 90 F when outside air = 65 F and avg outside air = 50 F Wloaded = 53 A x 480 V x 3 x 84% PF = 37 kW Wunloaded = 40 A x 480 V x 3 x 78% PF = 26 kW Waverage = (60% x 37 kW) + (40% x 26 kW) = 33 kW Tout = 65 F.T1low) / T1high Example 50 hp compressor running 5.06 /kWh would be about: 4 scfm x 0.3 kW) + (40% x 26 kW) = 31.

When a compressor is running.9700 – 3.1 kW Average power. it is said to be unloaded.7 psia P2low = 100 psig + 14.7 psia P2high = 110 psig + 14. but only add air to the compressed air system when the pressure of the system is between the activation pressures (typically 100 psig to 110 psig). The fraction of time a compressor runs unloaded is determined by the relationship between the capacity of the compressor and the demand for compressed air. rotary screw compressors typically draw between 50% and 70% of full-load power even when running unloaded.1553) = 5.7 psia Fraction savings: (3.5 kW x $14.051) = 35.02 /kWh = $150 /yr Total savings: $263 /yr + $150 /yr = $413 /yr Implementation cost: none Simple payback: immediate Reduce Unloaded Run Time Rotary screw. new: 37 kW x (1-0. it will run loaded most of the time. Thus.1 kW) + (40% x 26 kW) = 31.000 hr/yr at 480 V Measure: loaded (53 A) 60% of time and unloaded (40 A) 40 % of time Reduce pressure from 110 psig to 100 psig Loaded power: 53 A x 480 V x 3 x 84% PF = 37 kW Unloaded power: 40 A x 480 V x 3 x 78% PF = 26 kW Average power: (60% x 37 kW) + (40% x 26 kW) = 33 kW Percent full-load power when unloaded: 26 kW / 37 kW = 70% P1 = 14. There are two primary strategies for minimizing the time that compressors run unloaded.(P2low/P1)k] / [(P2high/P1)k .62 /kW-mo x 12 mo/yr = $263 /yr Usage savings: 1.P1k) Example 50 hp compressor running 5.P2lowk) / (P2highk . If the compressor is under or properly sized. Unfortunately. there is a huge energy penalty for running unloaded.5 kW Demand savings: 33 kW – 31. In our experience.5 kW = 1.1] Fraction savings = (P2highk .7 psi = 124.1% Loaded power.000 hr/yr x $0.9700 – 2. this is frequently cost effective whenever a compressor is loaded less than half the time.7 psi = 114. but not adding compressed air to the system. it will quickly raise the pressure to the upper bound of the activation pressure and then run unloaded for an extended period of time. centrifugal and some reciprocating compressors run continuously.5 kW Demand savings: 1.WPlow) / WPhigh = [(P2high/P1)k . Compressed Air Systems 21 .Fraction savings = (WPhigh . If a compressor is oversized for the load. new: (60% x 35.5 kW x 5.8763) / (3. The first is simply to purchase or operate a smaller compressor.

However.6 kW) + (75% x 29.2 kW) x $14. will not result in energy savings since the lag compressors will continue to run unloaded while drawing a significant fraction of full-load power.6 kW Unloaded power: 45 Amps x 480 Volts x x 0. which can also be programmed to rotate “baseload” duty.75 kW/hp = 59. the first “lag” compressor at 103 psig and the second “lag” compressor at 101 psig.2 kW 25-hp recip elec: 21.5% = 21.620 kWh/yr Demand savings: (34.3 kW – 21. most compressors have a “sleep” or “automatic” mode in which the compressor will turn off if it runs unloaded for 5 or 10 minutes.75 kW/hp / 88. the “lag” compressors never load unless the “baseload” compressor cannot meet the plant’s demand for air.2 kW x 60% x 9 hr/dy x 5 dy/wk x 50 wk/yr = 28.2 kW / 49. For example.3 kW x 9 hr/dy x 5 dy/wk x 50 wk/yr = 77. If the compressors are staged in this manner.5 scfm Percent time loaded for 25-hp recip to supply same output: 59.2 kW) = 34.000 Simple payback = $7.3 kW Annual elec: 34.620 kWh/yr) x $0. Additional “lag” compressors should activate at increasingly lower pressures.5 hp x 4 scfm/hp x 25% = 59.5 hp / 50 hp = 1.Example 50-hp air-cooled screw compressor loaded 10 sec and unloaded 35 sec.175 kWh/yr Percent full-load power when unloaded: 29.298 /yr + $971 /yr = $3.02 /kWh = $971 /yr Total savings: $2.2 kW Average power: (25% x 49.6 kW = 59% Power output at full load: 49.19 Average compressed air output: 59.84 kW/kVA = 49. Staging activation pressures and setting the compressors to run in “sleep” mode can dramatically reduce energy use while delivering the same system performance.62 / kW-mo x 12 mo/yr = $2.269 /yr Cost of 25-hp air cooled recip: $7.5 scfm / (25 hp x 4 scfm/hp) = 60% 25-hp recip power: 25 hp x . rather than running unloaded. set the lower activation pressure of the “baseload” compressor a few psi higher than the lower activation pressure of the “lag” compressor.000 / $3. Assume compressors generate 4 scfm/hp Compressor loaded 10 sec / 45 sec = 25% of the time. thus compressor is oversized. This alone.6 kW x 90% eff / . This can be done manually or using dedicated compressor control equipment.298 /yr Elec savings: (77.269 /yr x 12 mo/yr = 26 months The second strategy for reducing the time that compressors run unloaded is to stage multiple compressors so that unneeded compressors are turned off when not needed.78 kW/kVA = 29.5 hp Service Factor: 59. To stage multiple compressors.175 kWh/yr – 28. Loaded power: 71 Amps x 480 Volts x x 0. Compressed Air Systems 22 . the “baseload” compressor may be set at 105 psig.

5 kW Average power: (33.3 kW x 56% x 6.000 hr/yr = 199.Example Current: primary comp is 50-hp air-cooled screw with 30-hp air-cooled recip backup.284 /yr = $3. the temperature of the exiting cooling air is typically between 80 F and 120 F and can be used for space heating or other lowtemperature heating applications. 50-hp cycle time: 5 minutes loaded and 10 minutes unloaded Fraction time loaded: 5 min / 15 min = 33% Recommend: baseload 30-hp and run 50-hp in “automatic” mode as lag for peaks Loaded power = 61 Amps x 480 V x 3 x 84% PF = 42.1 hp / 50 hp = 1. outside air is still used for Compressed Air Systems 23 .000 hr/yr = 85.3% x 42.284 /yr Implementation cost: none Simple payback = immediate Use Cooling Air For Space Heating Adiabatic compression of air to 100 psig results in outlet air temperatures of 350 F to 500 F.5 scfm Percent time loaded for 30-hp recip to supply same output: 67.284 /yr Total savings if 50-hp lag never loads: $1. we recommend equipping air-cooled compressors with ducts and dampers to direct warm air from compressor into the plant during winter and out of the plant during summer. about 80% of the work added to the air is removed as “waste” heat.02 /kWh = $2.2 kW – 25.5 kW) = 33. To use this heat for space heating.75 kW/hp / 89% eff = 25.6 kW Unloaded power = 44 Amps x 480 V x 3 x 78% PF = 28.1 hp Service Factor: 51. In air-cooled compressors.6% x 28. thereby increasing the lifetime and efficiency of the compressor.008 kWh/yr) x $0. For example.02 Average compressed air output: 51.2 kW x 6.200 kWh/yr – 85. When the air is cooled to room temperature. Figure 1A is the current ventilation in which outside air is brought to the compressor then exhausted to the outside during winter.3 kW) x $14.6 kW x 90% eff / 0.62 / kW-mo x 12 mo/yr = $1.008 kWh/yr Demand savings: (33. consider the two scenarios below where warm air from the compressor is being exhausted from the plant.386 /yr Elec savings: (199.200 kWh/yr Power output at full load: 42.2 kW Annual energy: 33. In Figure 1B.1 hp x 4 scfm/hp x 33% = 67. The first scenario is shown below. Figures 1B and 1C show two possible ways of changing the ventilation system to use heat from the compressor to reduce the space cooling load.670 /yr Total savings if 50-hp lag loads and increases demand: $2.3 kW 30-hp recip elec: 25. This damper system would also keep the compressor room cool.386 /yr + $2. The net amount of heat added to a plant from an air compressor that is currently exhausting the cooling air depends on the way the air compressor is ventilated.75 kW/hp = 51.5 scfm / (30 hp x 4 scfm/hp) = 56% 30-hp recip power: 30 hp x .6 kW) + (66.

V is the volume flow rate of cooling air through the compressor. and then directed into the plant. If the compressor cooling air is currently coming from the outside and is exhausted to the outside as in Case 1A. Qnet. is a penalty for bringing more cold outside air into the plant. in which case the ventilation system would actually be increasing space heating requirements. In Figure 2A. as in 1B. Compressed Air Systems 24 . and 1C is proposed ventilation with no outside air. V x pcp x (Tp – To). O O P Qc Qc Qc Figure 1A. no additional outside air is brought into the plant and the Qnet heat gain from the compressor is simply Qc.cooling. then the net heat into the plant. The second term in this expression. is Qnet = Qc – [V x pcp x (Tp – To)] where pcp is the product of air density and specific heat (0. In this case. If the proposed ventilation system is to continue to draw cooling air from outside and then direct the warm air into the plant. The recommended system is shown in Figure 2B. Qc is the heat from the compressor. cooling air is supplied from inside the plant then exhausted to the outdoors. where plant air is recirculated through the compressor. 1B is proposed ventilation using outside air. 1A is the current ventilation.018 Btu/ft3-F). 1B and 1C. this penalty could exceed Qc. The preferred system is shown in 1C. Depending on the outside and plant air temperatures. then the net heat from the air compressor to the plant is zero. Tp is the temperature of air in the plant ad To is the outside air temperature. Another scenario where warm air from the compressor is being exhausted from the plant is shown below. Figure 1C shows an alternate system with no outside air.

the compressor is actually adding to the space heating load by increasing infiltration into the plant. In Figure 2A.724 /yr Implementation cost for ducts and dampers: $1. The net space heating energy loss is: Qloss = V x pcp x (Tp – To) If the ventilation system were changed to B. Qc.500 hr/yr Space heat: 33 kW x 70% x 2. 2A is the current ventilation system. then the net heating energy gain would be the sum of the heat added by the compressor.413 Btu/kWh = 197 MBtu/yr Assume gas costs $7 /MBtu and gas furnace is 80% efficient Gas cost savings: 197 MBtu/yr x 80% x $7 /MBtu = $1.O P Qc Qc Figure 2A and 2B. Loaded power: 53 A x 480 V x 3 x 84% PF = 37 kW Unloaded power: 40 A x 480 V x 3 x 78% PF = 26 kW Average power: (60% x 37 kW) + (40% x 26 kW) = 33 kW Assume can capture 70% of input energy for space heat for 2.000 hr/yr at 480 V Measure: loaded (53 A) 60% of time and unloaded (40 A) 40 % of time Initial ventilation as in 1A and proposed as in 1C. and the elimination of the previous loss. Compressed Air Systems 25 .000 / $1. and 2B is the proposed ventilation system that recirculates plant air through the compressor.500 hr/yr x 3. The valve must always allow some flow to function properly.724 /yr x 12 mo/yr = 7 months Water 1) Replace water-cooled compressors with air-cooled compressors when possible 2) Install a temperature-controlled valve on the discharge side of the cooling water to reduce cooling water consumption. Qnet = Qc + [V x pcp x (Tp – To)] Example 50 hp compressor running 5.000 Simple payback: $1.

1984.3) Replace once-through cooling systems with closed-loop fin-tube radiator type cooling systems. DOE/CS/40520-T2. and Boles. Thermodynamics.. Y. WGB-McGraw-Hill. Example Recommendations Compressed Air Systems 26 . M. Ingersoll-Rand. Dept.S. 1984. of Energy. 3) Condensed Air Power Data. References 1) Compressed Air Systems. 1998. U. 2) Cengal.

which is for the water treatment pumps. We measured the pressure of the compressed air line and found it to be about 130 psig. thus the motor speed is slowed down or sped up in order to meet plant air demand. Model #1RN75H-CC. is used to supply plant air. The compressor also draws plant air for cooling and discharges it into the room. The compressor draws plant air for compression. When the air discharge pressure falls to a set load activation pressure. The 75-hp compressor is located on the plant floor in the Powder building. the highest pressure requirement in the plant is 85 psig. End Use According to maintenance. the majority of compressed air is used to run pneumatic pumps for the water treatment process. for an average of 133 psig. We observed the compressors load/unload cycle and observed from its digital gage that its load activation pressure was 131 psig and its unload activation pressure was 134 psig. The graph below shows the power draw of the compressor over this period. the average pressure drop through the air headers and lines is about: 133 psig – 130 psig = 3 psig Compressor Power Draw We logged the power draw of the lead 75-hp VSD compressor between about 9:58 am and 2:46 pm.Air Compressor Analysis of VSD Compressor Equipment A 75-hp Ingersoll-Rand Nirvana VSD compressor. the compressor motor speeds up to meet demand and slows when the set-point pressure is met. According to maintenance. Compressed Air Systems 27 . Compressed air is also used to support the plant’s tooling processes. Controls The 75-hp compressor is a variable-speed compressor. Thus.

A closer look at the power draw from 11:24 to 11:50 is shown below. This figure shows the compressor unloading to about 27 amps. Compressed Air Systems 28 . then drawing about 98 amps when it reloads. This figure shows the compressor unloading to about 27 amps.A closer look at the power draw from 10:58 to 11:12 is shown below. and then drawing about 47 amps when it reloads. then completely unloading to about 0 amps.

four distinct periods of demand are evident. the high and low power draws of the compressor were about: High: 41 A x 480 V x 0. and then stepping up to about 55 amps. Thus.A closer look at the power draw from 12:40 to 12:54 is shown below. the average power draw was about: (78% x 27 kW) + (22% x 15 kW) = 24 kW Period 2 Compressed Air Systems 29 . This figure shows the compressor modulating without unloading at about 43 amps. the compressor operated at the higher power draw about 78% of the time and the lower power draw about 22% of the time. 75-hp motors running close to full-load have a power factor of about 0.83 kW/kVA x √3 / 1. According to management. the voltage supplied to the compressors is 480 V. According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).83 kW/kVA x √3 / 1. Summary of Logging Data During the logging period.000 W/kW = 15 kW During this period. Thus.000 W/kW = 27 kW Low: 22 A x 480 V x 0. The 4 periods are: • Period 1: 9:58 am – 12:09 pm • Period 2: 12:09 pm – 12:44 pm • Period 3: 12:44 pm – 1:25 pm • Period 4: 1:25 pm – 2:46 pm Period 1 During this period the compressor’s highest current draw was 41 Amps and lowest current draw was 22 Amps.83 kW/kVA.

83 kW/kVA x √3 / 1.000 W/kW = 28 kW Low: 29 A x 480 V x 0. Period 3 for 14% and Period 4 for 39%. the high and low power draws of the compressor were about: High: 32 A x 480 V x 0. Thus. Period 2 for 12% of the time.000 W/kW = 33 kW Low: 39 A x 480 V x 0.During this period the compressor’s highest current draw was 43 Amps and lowest current draw was 29 Amps. the average power draw was about: (61% x 33 kW) + (39% x 26 kW) = 30 kW Period 4 During this period the compressor’s highest current draw was 32 Amps and lowest current draw was 29 Amps.000 W/kW = 19 kW During this period. the compressor operated at the higher power draw about 63% of the time and the lower power draw 37% of the time.000 W/kW = 21 kW Low: 29 A x 480 V x 0. the compressor operated at the higher power draw about 52% of the time and the lower power draw about 48% of the time. Thus.83 kW/kVA x √3 / 1.83 kW/kVA x √3 / 1.000 W/kW = 26 kW During this period. the high and low power draws of the compressor were about: High: 50 A x 480 V x 0. Thus.000 W/kW = 19 kW During this period. the average power draw was about: (63% x 28 kW) + (37% x 19 kW) = 25 kW Period 3 During this period the compressor’s highest current draw was 50 Amps and lowest current draw was 39 Amps. Thus. the compressor operated at the higher power draw about 61% of the time and the lower power draw about 39% of the time. the full load power draw of the compressor is about: 75 hp x 0. the high and low power draws of the compressor were about: High: 43 A x 480 V x 0.83 kW/kVA x √3 / 1. The average power draw during the logging period was about: (46% x 24 kW) + (12% x 25 kW) + (14% x 30 kW) + (39% x 20 kW) = 26 kW Assuming a service factor of about 105% and a motor efficiency of 93%. Thus. Thus.75 kW/hp x 105% / 93% = 63 kW Compressed Air Systems 30 .83 kW/kVA x √3 / 1. the average power draw was about: (52% x 21 kW) + (48% x 19 kW) = 20 kW Total Period 1 accounted for 46% of the total logging time.83 kW/kVA x √3 / 1.

the average fraction of full-load capacity was about: FC = (FP . we will assume a relationship of: FP = 0..34 = 106 scfm Compressed Air Systems 31 .0. Thus.1) / (1.0 .0..34 Thus.0.0 . the average air output was about: 307 scfm x 0.1)FC If so. However.1 + (1. According to Ingersoll-Rand literature.1) = 0. no VSD is 100% efficient. the fraction of fullload power (FP) is equal to the fraction of full-load air output (FC) for a Nirvana VSD compressor. = 26 kW / 63 kW = 0.If so. the rated compressed air output of a 75-hp Nirvana air compressor at 140 psig is 307 scfm. motor efficiency falls off at very load loads. In addition.41 Compressed Air Output According to Ingersoll-Rand specifications. the average fraction of full-load power (FP) at which this compressor operates is about: FPavg.

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