Energy Efficiency in Air Compressors

Air compressors are used in multiple industries. Ranging from small auto shops to large-scale textile units, industries are powered by reciprocating compressors and high-volume centrifugal compressors respectively. Air compressor functions on a simple technology. The design and the practical usage of compressed air systems have been altered over time according to the needs of the industries.

However, traditional compressors have become a major utility expense due to many factors as mentioned in the given article. Therefore, over time, manufacturers have started investing in Energy Efficient Compressors to make the user experience more feasible and simpler. However, in this guide, we have summed up how multiple factors contribute to energy efficiency.

1. Compressor Size

When it comes to air compressors, bigger is not always better. A rotary screw compressor is considered most efficient when running at its maximum loaded capacity. Here loaded refers to a condition when the compressor is producing air whereas unloaded on the other hand means when the compressor is in idle position. A compressor would consistently load when the air production continuously matches the air requirement. Hence, screw compressors are usually inefficient in the unload condition and, thus, a larger compressor will use more energy and consumables than a right-sized compressor for a given air requirement.

2. Air Distribution System

When looking to make better improvements in energy efficiency, consumers must look beyond the normal air compressor and assess the complete compressed air system. The energy efficiency is greatly impacted by the distribution system’s design and material utilized for piping.

When designing a compressed air piping system, the shorter the distance from the compressor to the application, the better. In traditional air compressor systems, the distance from the compressor to the in between the compressor and the application is large due to which the traditional system is less efficient.

3. Fluctuating Air Demands

Identifying the correct size is essential to enhance energy efficiency but at the same time, there are customers who have varying demands throughout the day. What about those customers who predict a rise in the manufacturing capacity requiring more air? In such situations Variable frequency drives (VFDs) are the ultimate solutions.

A VFD operates by decreasing the compressor motor’s speed to decrease flow to meet the real air demand of the consumer. The compressor starts consuming less energy than a fixed-speed compressor by reducing the motor’s speed.

  1. Air Audits Find Inefficiencies

Air audits identify the real demand for air and assess the overall efficiency of the usage of the compressed air during the operation. Air audits assist in determining the appropriate size needed, evaluating the need for a VFD, identifying inefficiencies in piping design, and ultimately optimizing usage.

Typically, the auditor is assigned days to gather data to better and completely comprehend the changing demand conditions as well as the nature of use. After a thorough analysis, following the analysis result, they will issue a report with a summary of the potential savings along with recommended changes and associated costs.

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