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10 best practice tips for improving the energy efficiency of air compressors

10 best practice tips for improving the energy efficiency of air compressors

  • 2021-11-11

Compressed air accounts for a large part of the total energy cost of industrial manufacturers-usually around 12%, and in some plants it can be as high as 40%. This means that any compressed air energy savings you can achieve will have a significant impact on your plant's total energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. By improving the energy efficiency of compressor installations at present and in the coming years, it will help you reduce your operating costs.


1. Reduce no-load running time

The demand for air in industrial compressed air systems usually fluctuates. Using these modes to reduce no-load running time is the first step in optimizing energy efficiency. If you have multiple compressors, you should set them to do this automatically. However, if there is no central controller, the compressor pressure band should be set in cascade mode; when the compressed air target pressure is reached, if the machine is not needed, it can be stopped by the on-board controller.

If the compressor runs at no load after working hours, it will still consume 25% of the energy consumed at full load. In addition, if there is a leak in the system, the compressor may occasionally switch to full load operation, consuming more energy.

The shorter the production time, the more energy savings will be achieved if the compressor is turned off instead of running at no load. If production is reduced but not stopped, consider isolating the currently unused areas of the factory.


2. Eliminate air leakage

Leakage is the largest source of energy waste in the old compressed air system. According to estimates, a leak point as small as 3mm consumes more than 8,600 yuan per week. It is estimated that 20% of the total compressed air consumption may be lost due to leakage.


3. Reduce the pressure band

According to the experience of most compressors, every 1 bar (14.5 psi) reduction in pressure can save 7% of electricity consumption. Adjust the pressure setting of the compressor until the lowest pressure is reached; it will not affect the application while reducing the pressure band.

In addition, reducing the system pressure can reduce the impact of leakage. For every pressure reduction of 1 bar, the effect of air leakage can be reduced by 13%.


4. Convert compression heat into effective energy through heat recovery

The perfect opportunity for manufacturers to achieve energy savings lies in the recovery of waste heat generated by air compressors. If there is no energy recovery, this heat will be lost to the atmosphere through the cooling system and radiation. The amount of electrical energy that can be recovered depends on the size and operating time of the compressor. Usually the recovery rate is 70-94%. Oil-injected screw air compressors can recover about 70% of energy, and water-cooled oil-free screw air compressors can recover up to 94% of energy.


5. Make sure the size of the installed compressor is correct

When choosing the right compressor type, you should ask yourself the following questions:

● What to apply

● How much air flow does my factory/workshop use

● What is the minimum pressure required in the factory

● Do I need clean/dry air (use dryer and filter)

● How many hours does my compressor need to run per year

● Whether there are fluctuations in airflow demand between shifts (if there is, a variable speed drive (VSD) compressor may be a good choice, which can save a lot of cost)

● Is there a future expansion plan?


6. Ensure that the correct type of compressor technology is used

Many applications in the food and beverage industry, electronics industry, automotive industry, textile industry and pharmaceutical industry require oil-free air to ensure product integrity and product quality (usually designated as Class 0). Oil-free compressed air technology will help avoid expensive filter replacement costs, reduce oil condensation processing costs, reduce energy loss due to filter pressure drop, and eliminate the need to use expensive food-grade lubricants in food and beverage applications.


7. Consider variable speed drive compressors

Most production processes have different demand levels in different periods of time, which may mean that the compressor is left idling or idling for a long time (no compressed air is produced). If the fixed-speed compressor is replaced with a variable-speed drive, a lot of cost can be saved.


8. Conduct a compressed air system evaluation

The amount of compressed air cannot be estimated based on guesswork alone. In order to find ways to improve efficiency, the system needs to be evaluated or audited. A simple compressed air assessment can be used as a supplementary on-site visual inspection, while an in-depth audit based on data records will cost a certain amount. Depending on the size of the facility and the expected results, it may take several weeks or months to complete.


9. Enjoy the benefits of modern compressed air equipment

Air compressor is a long-term investment. The general factory replaces the air compressor every 7-10 years. The compressed air device can reduce up to a quarter of the energy consumption after adopting or updating the latest technology. If you are using an old compressor or an inefficient compressor, the cost of replacing the new compressor is usually lower than the current operating cost. Modern air compressors equipped with the latest controllers and energy-saving motors will lower your bottom line of profit and loss from the first day, which means a shorter payback period.


10. Don't forget the impact of regular maintenance

The best way to solve the compressed air supply is to properly manage the compressed air equipment. This means regular preventive maintenance is required to maintain the efficiency you get by buying a new compressor or to improve the performance of old equipment.

The use of original equipment manufacturer original parts for regular maintenance will improve equipment uptime and energy efficiency: on the contrary, there may be more downtime, more energy consumption, and potential failures that are expensive to repair.

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