CompAir Compressor installation | Air Compressor centre

Compressed air system efficiency

Compressed air system efficiency must be a good thing, but surely it wont have much effect?

Maximising compressed air system efficiency sounds like a good idea, after all we all think having an efficient system has to be something we should aim at but:

'surely its not worth spending much time on it since it wont have that much effect, and wont save us much at the end of the day?'

Well, if you think this way, I'm afraid you are very much mistaken

How much energy do compressors use?

In countries where manufacturing is a large part of the economy, such as Germany, it is estimated 30% of all electricity used in industry is used to make compressed air. Even in the UK with its comparitively small manufacturing base it is estimated that 15 - 20% of all electricity used by industry is used to make compressed air.

Why do air compressors use so much energy?

Unfortunately, this is due to the second law of thermodynamics, so there really isn't much anyone can do to change it. When air is compressed it gets hot - just think of a bicycle pump - this heat has to come from somewhere and in the case of compressors it comes from the power you put into the compressor ie your electrical power supply. Now there are lots of things manufacturers can do to improve the compression process and they all spend vast amounts time and money designing better more efficient air compressors, all of these improvements reduce losses, but the second law of thermodynamics still has by far the biggest effect.

So what can we do to reduce our energy costs?

The bottom line is that the energy costs incurred to create compressed air will be, and will remain, high. However, there are lots of things that can be done to maximise the benefits you get from the energy you put into creating compressed air. The first thing you need to do is to consider your compressed air system, as exactly that, a system. Attaching a highly efficient compressor to a leaky pipework system will not give you an efficient overall system. Things affecting your compressed air system efficiency out outlined below:
  • Air Compressor efficiency - is your compressor efficient, controlled correctly, positioned correctly in the plant room?
  • Air receiver sizing and position - Is the air receiver the correct size for the compressor and air usage and is it correctly located in the system ?
  • Dryer and air treatment equipment efficiency - are your dryer and filters designed properly and correctly sized?
  • Pipework system design, flow rates and leaks - is your compressed air pipework system designed correctly for current use, does it leak?
  • Is you compressed air system correctly maintained and working properly - poorly maintained systems waste energy?
  • Reduce your compressed air usage - are you using compressed air for the right things
  • Is your compressed air system working at the correct pressure - reducing system pressure has a significant effect on energy usage?
  • Use the waste heat given off by the air compressor for something else - most of the energy used to create your compressed air is given off as heat - cant we use that heat for something else?

Key product features

  • Air compressors use lots of energy to create compressed air
  • 15 - 20% of all electricity used by industry is used to make compressed air so potential savings are huge
  • There are many factors that affect overall compressed air system efficiency; the key is to think of the whole system as a single entity
  • Good compressed air system design is crucial
  • Maintaining your compressed air system properly is essential
  • Where possible re-using the waste heat from your air compressor will have significant saving effect
  • Only use your compressed air where it is really needed
  • Reducing system pressure will save you lots of energy