Web exclusive: white paper outlines steps to minimize waste in compressed air systems

Edited by Catlin Nalley, editorial intern

Compressed air is often considered a relatively inexpensive power source, but Norgren corrects this common misconception while offering solutions to issues of wastefulness in their white paper, Energy saving in compressed air systems-how Norgren is helping to improve energy efficiency.

Accompanying graphics emphasis the author’s points and help to clarify each section. The white paper goes one step further and provides formulas to calculate costs and savings.

The paper cites leaks, pressure drops, over pressurization, misuse of jets and poor compressor management as the main causes of wasted energy.

Oftentimes air leaks are ignored because they do not make a mess like oil leaks. However, Norgren states that approximately 30% of the air produced at a typical plant is wasted and a solution to this problem could see a savings of about $32,000 in the first year.

Some systems have unavoidable leaks or a natural idle consumption that can be isolated when not in use through a shut-off valve or electrically operated soft start dump valves. The white paper states that a simple leak can be fixed in approximately “half a man hour.”

Jets that are used for dusting, cooling, separating, etc., will remain running even when they are not in use. Through a valve or sensor, automatic controls could ensure that they are only on when necessary.

Over pressurization slows down production rates while increasing the amount of air consumed. Elimination of this problem can create savings in multiple areas including air tools and control valves. Generating costs increase by 7% for every 14.5 psig of unnecessary pressure drops, according to Norgren.

The paper also suggests that proper filtration and adherence to safety regulations address many of the problems regarding energy saving. Examples provided include the use of air fuses and replacement of old polycarbonate bowls with new or metal bowls.

Read the white paper here.