Has Your Compressed Air System Been Naughty or Nice

By: Wayne Perry

Compressed air inefficiency sees your plant when it’s sleeping and it knows when production is awake. It knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good and eliminate these inappropriate compressed air uses in your plant and save yourself a bundle of money for goodness sake.

Personnel Cooling: If you have personnel using compressed air to cool themselves, stuff their stocking with a fan instead.

TET Drains: These are essentially timed leaks since they vent compressed air on a timer. Say “Bah humbug” to these drains and replace them with automatic demand drains which activate only when there’s condensate. Not sure this would really save you money? Read here how one plant saved $11,320 annually by making the switch.

Leaks: A single, 1/4” leak on a system operating at 110 psig, 8,760 hours a year, and paying $0.10/kWh costs you $17,818 annually…and that’s just one leak. Get a leak detection audit of your system and follow through with fixing the leaks. The US Department of Energy estimates 25-30% of all compressed air generated is wasted to leaks—more than enough to keep 11 pipers piping. So fix the leaks in your system and put that air back to work for you.

Open Blowing: Using compressed air for cooling, drying, draining, cleaning, or sweeping, is money wasted. Low pressure blowers, fans, and—in the case of sweeping—brooms, are a much more efficient solution and will leave you in much better spirits for roasting chestnuts over the yule log.

Aeration: Low pressure applications are typically better suited for blowers. Blowers use less energy and have lower maintenance costs compared to compressors. As to whether or not this makes sense for your system, do the math and let the calculations guide your sleigh. If aeration is a very small part of your process, then it may not be cost-effective to purchase additional equipment. If this is the case, keep an eye on this process. If the demand grows over time, it may make sense down the road to switch to blowers.

So you’ve got your list of inappropriate uses of compressed air—check it twice. Better for you to find out if your system is naughty or nice. Because your energy bill, much like the big guy in the red suit, is coming to town.


2 thoughts on “Has Your Compressed Air System Been Naughty or Nice

  1. I like the point you made about open blowing with your compressed air lines. I agree that it’s a waste of money. Unfortunately, I think our team would be on the naughty list. It seems like using it more efficiently could really save us money in the long run. I’ll add some more brooms to the shop.

    1. Aaron, you have plenty of company on the naughty list. If you want to do things to get on the nice list you can have an air system specialist walk through your facility and point out things you can change for little or no money that will improve the system’s performance and efficiency. Little steps in the right direction will always be better than little steps in the wrong direction. —Wayne

Comments are closed.