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GOOD PRACTICE CASE STUDY

COMPRESSED AIR CASE STUDIES


11

Compressed air at Wyeth Medica, Newbridge, Co.Kildare.

Compressed air is widely used in Typical on-site savings have been As part of the scheme, the Irish Energy
all aspects of industry. It is non- estimated to be up to 30% of the energy Centre contracted Air Technology Ltd., U.K.
input to the compressor. These savings to conduct comprehensive energy audits
hazardous, readily available, can
are achievable through initially selecting of the compressed air facilities at Carbery
be stored easily and is a convenient the most efficient type of compressor, Milk Products, Ballineen, Co. Cork and at
source of power for a range of ensuring the correct air system design Wyeth Medica, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
machines and tools. and ongoing efficient operation and good
maintenance. It includes maximising the
However, it is not cheap to operate. use of the latest technologies available TABLE 2. SUMMARY OF AUDIT COSTS AND
Approximately 10% of all electrical power and also ensuring that attention is paid SAVINGS IDENTIFIED
in industry is employed in compressing to the simple measures of good SITE CARBERY WYETH
air. Over its lifetime the operating cost housekeeping and primarily, keeping MILK MEDICA
of a compressed air plant will be many PRODUCTS
leakage rates to a minimum.
times its initial purchase and ongoing ANNUAL €102,000 €203,000
maintenance costs. Typically, the life cycle The Annual Self Audit and Statement of COMPRESSED
Energy Accounts Scheme is operated by AIR COST
costs of a compressed air system can be
broken down in Table 1 as follows:- the Irish Energy Centre for the largest
COST OF AUDIT €17,000 €25,000
energy consumers in the industrial sector
in Ireland. Participation in the scheme POSSIBLE ANNUAL €42,200 €99,600
TABLE 1. SUMMARY OF LIFE-CYCLE COSTS SAVINGS IDENTIFIED
is voluntary with member companies
committing to annual energy savings SAVINGS AS A 41% 49%
targets, regular audits of their energy PERCENTAGE OF
CAPITAL ENERGY
TOTAL COSTS
18% 77% consumption, and the publication of an
annual statement of their achievements.
MAINTENANCE
The Irish Energy Centre provides support
5% to the membership by helping in the
preparation of annual statements and
also through workshops, seminars,
newsletters and site visits, and by
providing information on specific
approaches to energy efficiency.

IRISH ENERGY CENTRE


www.irish-energy.ie
GOOD PRATICE CASE STUDY Compressed Air

THE AUDIT
TABLE 3. DETAILS OF CARBERY COMPRESSED AIR SYSTEMS
The audits were measurement based
and covered all areas of the air systems.
SYSTEM COMPRESSOR TREATMENT SUPPLY DISTRIBUTION
The aim of the audits was to identify SYSTEM PRESSURE (ALL SPUR SYSTEMS)
economies in the rational use of compressed
MAIN 2 OFF 263 CFM REFRIGERANT DRYER PLUS 6-6.5 BARG 100 MM Ø REDUCING TO
air through the on-site measurement of FACTORY OIL FREE SCREW 3 STAGE FILTRATION 50 MM Ø AND LESS AND
compressor efficiency, air demand pattern FURTHER TO 10 MM Ø
and air quality. The audits also made 1 OFF 269 CFM NYLON TUBING
OIL FREE SCREW
recommendations for improving system
efficiency and outlined a strategy for 1 OFF 202 CFM
OIL FREE PISTON
reducing overall compressed air costs.
ALCOHOL 2 OFF 430 CFM 3 STAGES FILTRATION 6 BARG 100 MM Ø TO MANIFOLD
The audits were carried out over the course
PLANT OIL INJECTED REFRIGERANT DRYER WHICH FEEDS FERMENTERS.
of a week with little or no disruption to the SCREW (VARIABLE (TO BE INSTALLED) 50 MM Ø FOR GENERAL
operation of the individual sites. SPEED DRIVE) PURPOSE AIR

On both sites, rotary screw compressor CHEESE 1 OFF 202 CFM OIL REFRIGERANT DRYER PLUS 9 BARG 50 MM Ø REDUCED AT TAKE-
PLANT FREE PISTON 3 STAGE FILTRATION OFF AND POINT OF USE
efficiency was tested to ISO 1217 Annex C,
which assesses the compressor in terms of DIGESTER 1 OFF 75 CFM VANE REFRIGERANT DRYER PLUS 7 BARG 25 MM Ø
its output and its power consumption; and PLANT 2 STAGE FILTRATION
centrifugal compressor efficiency was tested
to ASME PTC10. The test results showed
that it is essential that compressors are
correctly maintained if they are to operate
at their designed output and performance with a comprehensive site monitoring system » €1060 a year could be saved by shutting down
level. Regular monitoring of compressor connected to a number of electricity meters the alcohol plant compressors overnight, when
all the fermenters are not in use.
operation will help to alert maintenance and also various flow and other meters.
staff when performance is below standard. » There was a problem with pressure drop in
the cheese area when the cheese cutters were
Measurement of Air Demand & Quality operating. This could be improved by re-piping
The air delivered from each compressor the air booster arrangement to feed the
accumulator before supplying the process.
station was measured over a period
of a week, including isolation of specific » Air efficient nozzles should be fitted on the
labelling machines in the cheese plant.
plant to investigate leakage rates.
The air quality delivered by each system » Solenoid valves should be used throughout
the plant to switch off the air supply when
was also measured. Evaluations of the a machine is not in use.
results of these measurements led to
» €4,000 per year could be saved by linking the
the following conclusions:
alcohol plant and the main factory compressed
» The large amount of small bore nylon pipe used air systems.
in the plant was contributing to the plant’s
» €3,100 to €5,740 per year could be saved by
Compressors at Carbery Milk Products. pressure drop problems. Long lengths of narrow
linking the main factory and digester compressor.
bore nylon tubing should be replaced with steel
pipe work. » €4,000 per year could be saved by supplying
CARBERY MILK PRODUCTS LTD., most of the cheese plant system from the
» The night/non-production time demand was
BALLINEEN, CO. CORK quite high, indicating a high leakage rate or
factory air.
misuse of air.
Carbery Milk Products was established
in 1965, and since then has evolved into
a leading international food company
producing a successful range of food
ingredients and cheese and ethanol
products. Compressed air is an essential
part of the production process at Carbery.
It is used for a variety of process and
instrument applications. The annual cost
of generating compressed air for the plant
was calculated to be €102,000.
Compressed air is generated at four separate
locations at the plant, each location supplying
individual systems. These consist of a main
factory system and 3 satellite systems,
namely the alcohol plant, the cheese plant
and the digester plant. All systems are linked
for backup purposes, although the links are
usually closed. A summary of the systems,
their compressors, and treatment systems is
presented in Table 3 above.
The site suffers from problems due to low air
pressure during spring and summer time
when milk production is high. Management is
active in trying to reduce energy consumption

Carbery Milk Products, Balineen, Co. Cork.


GOOD PRATICE CASE STUDY Compressed Air

System Leakage
A comprehensive leakage survey using
ultrasonic leak detection equipment was
carried out as part of the audit and a total
of 78 leaks were identified. Fifty of these
leaks were medium to very large in size.
It was determined that carrying out a
comprehensive leak reduction programme
as part of a planned maintenance system
could achieve an annual saving of €28,400.

Recommendations
The audit identified a total savings
potential of close to €42,200 for the
Carbery Milk Products site. The main
recommendations for savings lie in
reducing leakage, which is currently
very high, and linking the compressed
air systems. 19 other recommendations
were also made for individual plant
areas covering items such as flow meter
recalibration, upgrading nylon airlines,
installing automatic drains and air
efficient nozzles at the end users.
Wyeth Medica Ireland Ltd., Newbridge, Co. Kildare

WYETH MEDICA IRELAND LTD., per annum and would enable demand to be » The tests on the centrifugal compressors
NEWBRIDGE, CO. KILDARE met by one centrifugal compressor and one show that they are operating in a throttled
condition due to the setting of the high current
screw compressor. limit switch. If this setting was adjusted so that
Compressed air is generated in a central
The use of pressure regulators, with a the compressors could operate at maximum
compressor house by 4 oil free compressors,
output, the demand on the screw compressors
which supply the tablet manufacturing, continuous loss, in the tablet manufacturing would be reduced and there would be a
packaging and warehouse areas. The area is one of the major causes of leakage resulting saving of €2,244 per annum.
installed compressors are two Ingersoll at the plant. If these leaking regulators were » The installation of autodrains in the compressor
Rand CV35MX2 two stage, oil free centrifugal replaced, both dryer purge losses and house would reduce purge losses by an
compressors and two Atlas Copco ZR145 centrifugal compressor hours of operation estimated 25 Scfm and save €2,310 per annum.
two stage, oil free rotary screw compressors. would be reduced. » A programme to continuously monitor and
Process and instrumentation air is treated by repair leaks would save energy by reducing
air consumption, dryer purge loss and hours
a desiccant dryer, while the breathing air is Recommendations of operation of the screw compressor. This
treated by a refrigeration dryer. Following The audit found a lot of good practice would results in savings in the region of
treatment, the air is distributed to the main in evidence at Wyeth Medica but also €22,440 per annum.
processing area. Details of the generation, identified areas of potential savings. A » A problem with pressure drop in the packaging
treatment and distribution system are total savings potential of about €94,000 area, could be solved by upgrading the small
presented below in Table 4. diameter nylon tubing to at least 10mm
per year was identified, but this would diameter pipe. This would also allow a 0.5 bar
The rapid expansion of the plant over the require some investment in order to be reduction in compressor generation pressure,
last few years has led to problems of low realized. Recommendations for the site thereby reducing power consumption, increas-
arising from the audit were as follows: ing the output duty centrifugal compressor
air pressure in certain areas during peak
and reducing demand due to lower leakage
demand periods. » The screw compressors usually operate at rates. This would result in savings of between
a bandwidth of 0.6 bar. The installation of €5,280 and €11,220 per annum.
a control system that operates with a mean
Measurement of Air Demand & Quality pressure of 7.7 bar and that maintains a » The use of air efficient nozzles that are proper-
narrower bandwidth of 0.3 bar across both ly regulated and isolated when they are not
The air demand delivered upstream of the
screw compressors would save €760. required would help to reduce energy costs.
dryers was measured over a period of a
Note: On many sites this setting is often » The replacement of relieving regulators with
week. The demand profiles indicated a 1 bar or more, thereby increasing running the non-relieving type could result in savings
varying requirement throughout the day, costs particularly at times of low demand. of up to €60,700.
typically starting with a low requirement
between midnight and 8am, before rising
to the higher demand throughout the
remainder of the day.
TABLE 4. DETAILS OF COMPRESSOR AIR SYSTEMS

System Leakage COMPRESSOR TREATMENT SYSTEM SUPPLY PRESSURE DISTRIBUTION


A comprehensive leakage survey using
ultrasonic leak detection equipment was 2 OFF 1,270 CFM OIL REFRIGERANT DRYER 7.9 BARG 67 MM Ø BREATHING AIR
FREE CENTRIFUGAL 108 MM Ø UNDERGROUND
carried out as part of the audit and a total TABLET & PACKAGING
of 128 leaks were identified. Thirty-five of
these leaks were medium to very large in 2 OFF 697 CFM OIL DESICCANT DRYER 108 MM Ø PIPE BRIDGE
size and hence required immediate attention. FREE SCREW TABLET & WAREHOUSE
Repairing these leaks would save €22,400
GOOD PRATICE CASE STUDY Compressed Air

CONCLUSION
The energy audits at Carbery Milk Products
and Wyeth Medica identified ways in which
the operating costs of the compressed
air systems could be significantly reduced
and system performance improved. Most
of the savings identified were in the areas
of reducing losses and bottlenecks on the
systems, together with improving compressor
control. Although the recommendations
made in these two case studies are site
specific, they could be broadly applied to
other compressed air systems.
It was clear from both case studies that
properly maintained compressors operate
more efficiently. It was also clear that
air consumption needs to be monitored
and evaluated if it is to be properly
controlled. Savings can be made by
matching compressor loading as accurately
as possible to air demand. Both studies
illustrate the fact that significant savings
can be achieved by implementing a
programme to continuously monitor and
repair leaks.
The implementation of the type of changes
proposed above would not only result in
financial savings, it would also free up
considerable amounts of generating
capacity, allowing the site to expand further Air compressor at Wyeth Medica Ireland Ltd., Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
without the need for investment in new
compressor capacity.

SYSTEM LEAKAGE

Leaks can waste significant amounts A detailed site survey using ultrasonic These are responsible for the
of energy in an industrial compressed leak detection equipment should majority of air loss and are there-
air system, sometimes up to 20 – 30% highlight all system leaks. These can fore costing the most. Leaks with a
of a compressor’s output. be categorised according to their rating of 3 are small but noticeable
While leaks can be found through- severity on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 and should be repaired after the
out the compressed air system, the being the worst. major leaks. Leaks with a rating of 1
most common problem areas are: and 2 are negligible and normally
RATING DESCRIPTION would be ignored, however, they
» Couplings, hoses, tubes and fittings
should be monitored to ensure they
» Pressure regulators 1 VERY SMALL – CAN ONLY BE
IDENTIFIED USING ULTRASOUND do not increase over time.
» Open condensate traps and
shut-off valves 2 VERY SMALL – CAN BE HEARD

» Pipe joints, disconnects and 3 SMALL – CAN BE HEARD AND FELT


thread sealants
4 – 10 MEDIUM TO VERY LARGE
A good leak prevention programme
will include the following components:
As a general guide, leaks with a
» identification, tagging and repair
rating over 3 should be repaired
» verification and re-evaluation or reduced as soon as possible.

For further information on energy saving technologies and initiatives, contact:


Irish Energy Centre, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland. Tel: 01.836 9080. Fax: 01.837 2848.

The Irish Energy Centre is funded by the Irish Government under the National IRISH ENERGY CENTRE
Development Plan 2000 – 2006 and part financed by the European Union. www.irish-energy.ie