Determine the Cost.
A recent survey by the U.S. Department of Energy showed that for a typical industrial facility, approximately 10% of the electricity consumed is for generating compressed air. Compressed air is one of the most expensive sources of energy in a plant.
When used wisely, compressed air can provide a safe and reliable source of power to key industrial processes. Users should always consider other cost-effective forms of power to accomplish the required tasks and eliminate unproductive demands.
Leaks are a signi cant source of wasted energy in a compressed air system, often wasting as much as 20%-30% of the compressor’s output. Compressed air leaks can also contribute to problems with system operations.
Like all electro-mechanical equipment, industrial compressed air systems require periodic maintenance to operate at peak ef ciency and minimize unscheduled downtime. Inadequate maintenance can increase energy consumption via lower compression ef ciency, air leakage, or pressure variability.
Compressed air storage can allow a compressed air system to meet its peak demand needs and help control system pressure without starting additional compressors. An optimal air storage strategy will enable a compressed air system to provide enough air to satisfy temporary air demand events while minimizing compressor use and pressure.
Engineer End Uses for Efficiency.
Ensuring an appropriate, stable pressure level at the end-use applications is critical to the performance of any industrial compressed air system. End uses that are engineered for maximum ef ciency can help provide the consistent supply of compressed air that ensures reliable production.
Alternatives for Low-Pressure Uses.
To reduce compressed air energy costs, alternative methods of supplying low-pressure end uses should be considered before using compressed air in such applications. Many alternative methods of supplying low-pressure end uses can allow a plant to achieve its production requirements effectively.
Removing condensate is important for maintaining the appropriate air quality level required by end uses. However, signi cant compressed air (and energy) losses can occur if condensate removal is done improperly.
Effect of Intake on Performance.
The effect of intake air on compressor performance should not be underestimated. Intake air that is contaminated or hot can impair compressor performance and result in excess energy and maintenance costs.
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What is Implementation Assistance?
Often potential energy efficiency measures are discovered that have the potential to save facilities large amounts of money through reduced energy or waste consumption. These projects require significant research and development to create adaquate solutions for energy reduction. Time constraints from frequent industrial assessments and limited time for report generation cause these potentially rewarding projects to go unpursued. The implementation assistance program through the IAC at Texas A&M can bridge the gap of time and research constraints and produce energy efficient results that will greatly reduce energy use and increase cost savings. The research projects are primarily pursued by graduate students working at the IAC and through the sponsorship of senior design projects.
Senior Design Projects.
The senior design courses at Texas A&M are the capstone of the mechanical engineering curriculum. Students integrate knowledge and skills acquired in their undergraduate courses to design and develop products for industrial partners. Under the direction of faculty and graduate student advisors, these projects follow an advanced design process based on a top down systems approach that encourages innovation. By sponsoring a senior design project, teams of students will devote the year-long course researching and developing an effective solution that satisfies all necessary design criteria. The results of these projects can lead to substantial monetary savings through reduced energy usage in projects that can't be evaluated in the limited time constraints experienced at the IAC.