Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Industries

Technological trends in plastics manufacturing are driving the costs of production down. In industrial PET blow molding specifically, two innovative techniques have had major impacts over the last 15 years: “light weighting” the plastic bottles, and recirculating high-pressure compressed air. Both have helped to improve the energy efficiency of PET blow molding by reducing compressed air requirements dramatically.

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This northeastern U.S. automotive manufacturing facility spends $269,046 annually on energy to operate their compressed air system. This figure will increase as electric rates are raised from their current average of .019 cents per kWh. The set of projects, in this system assessment, reduce these energy costs by $110,166 or forty percent. Reliability of compressed air quality, however, is the main concern in this plant and the primary focus of this system assessment.

Bulk

The plant air system consists of eight, single-stage, lubricated, Sullair rotary screw compressors. All units are in good working order.  Units 2, 3, 4 and 7 are water-cooled and units 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 are air-cooled. The main plant air system has two primary compressed air dryers, a Thompson Gordon model TG 2000 refrigerated dryer, and a Sullair model SAR 1350 heatless desiccant dryer.  Both units are working according to their design. The TG 2000 uses approximately 11.2 kW and is a non-cycling type unit, and the SAR 1350 uses approximately 200 cfm of purge air to regenerate the wet tower. 

Food

Imagine a dairy farm. Do pictures of idyllic pastures populated by grazing, happy cows come to mind? What about the not-so-idyllic image of farmers milking cows by hand? Modern dairy farms work a little differently. Darigold, a farmer-owned dairy co-op located in the Pacific Northwest, has the happy cows, but production is more sophisticated. The company has eleven state-of-the-art production facilities churning out high-quality dairy products at mind-boggling rates. Milk, for instance, is produced to the tune of 2.6 million gallons per day. To maintain efficient production at scale, Darigold also has an innovative energy management program in place.

Medical

In the U.S. as an example, the NFPA has taken the view that if your compressor draws in good clean ambient air, the air stays clean through the compressor, is then dried and filtered, when you deliver it to the patient it will be entirely satisfactory. After all, when you went into the hospital that’s what you were breathing and when you leave you will breathe it again!

Metals

A significant portion of the technology on display used compressed air in some fashion, whether it was for pneumatic controls, generating nitrogen, or blasting plasma. By no means is this article a review of all the compressed-air-using technology at FABTECH 2015. Instead, it offers a glimpse into some of the ways compressed air is used in the metal fabrication and machining industry. It also outlines some of the innovative compressed air technology at the show — from the supply side to the demand side.

Paper

Rockline Industries is one of the largest global producers of consumer products, specializing in wet wipes and coffee filters. The company contacted the Arkansas Industrial Energy Clearinghouse after identifying that the compressed air system in their Springdale, Arkansas facility was a potential source of significant savings. Experts from the Clearinghouse then began working with Rockline Industries, representatives of the electric utility, and a local compressed air vendor to perform a complete evaluation of the system.

Pharmaceutical

Compressed air is used in a number of processes in the food industry. It is used as an ingredient in whipped products such as ice cream, to slice or cut soft products and to open packagesbefore filling of product. Currently, food manufacturers are under pressure to validate the safety of all ingredients or processes for regulatory compliance, but unfortunately, there is currently no standard method to evaluate the microbial content of compressed air.

Plastics

Plastic injection molding is a common process in manufacturing, and it can be used to produce just about anything. To create a part, molten plastic is injected into a hollow mold, where it is formed and cooled before being ejected from the cavity. Plastic injection molders make a seemingly limitless range of products, from fishing tackle boxes and kayak paddles to tooth brushes and miniscule medical devices.

Power

Nuclear power plants produce electricity for people, business and industry.  Electricity is produced in a similar fashion as fossil fuel (i.e., coal, oil, etc.) power plants, using steam to drive a turbines which spin an electrical generator, producing the electricity. 

Printing

The Trinity Mirror Group print works on Oldham is one of the UK’s largest newspaper printers. The nine presses in the facility produce around 1million papers every day, including the Independent, the Daily Mirror and a range of local, regional and sports titles. Printing on this scale does not come cheap in energy terms, however. The plant’s annual electricity bill is in the order of £1.5millon. With energy prices on the rise, and a strong desire to improve environmental performance and reduce its carbon footprint, the plant’s management has recently embarked on a project to cut energy use substantially.

Transit

In aerospace manufacturing, tiny details matter most. For instance, if proper torque is not applied to the screws and bolts fastening an aircraft fuselage, catastrophic failures can result. Compressed air is used to power the tools needed to apply that torque, making the compressed air system a critical part of the facility, though it largely stays behind the scene.

Wastewater

A replacement strategy for air compressors and blowers integrated into a system-level approach towards energy efficiency can deliver significant energy savings and optimize equipment performance. At the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, a blower replacement project yielded annual energy savings of more than 928,000 kWh and $98,000 in energy costs, while improving the reliability of its secondary treatment process. In addition, the agency qualified for important incentives from its electric utility — significantly improving the project economics and resulting in a 2.94-year payback.
As a result of compressed air awareness training and a focus on energy management, two facilities in different parts of the world have reduced their compressed air demand substantially by removing vortex style cabinet coolers from some of their electrical panels and reworking the cooling systems.  These facilities were previously unaware of the high cost of compressed air and how much could be saved if other methods of cooling were used. This article describes some of their efforts in demand reduction.
In aerospace manufacturing, tiny details matter most. For instance, if proper torque is not applied to the screws and bolts fastening an aircraft fuselage, catastrophic failures can result. Compressed air is used to power the tools needed to apply that torque, making the compressed air system a critical part of the facility, though it largely stays behind the scene.
A trio of stationary compressors produce 630,000 m3/hr of air for the oxygen plant at Pueblo Viejo gold mine in the Dominican Republic. The oxygen is used by its autoclave processing facility to treat roughly 24,000 tons per day of refractory ore for the 60/40 joint venture between Barrick and Goldcorp Inc., operated by Barrick as Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation.
Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine spoke with Mark Shedd, Head of Oil-free Air, Aggreko Rental Solutions - There are two distinct compressed air systems in a refinery or petrochemical environment: plant air and instrument air systems. Instrument air systems are almost always 100% oil-free air compressors on both the permanent and temporary systems. The demand for compressed air purity, in instrument air systems, is so high that the permanent install back-up system is usually nitrogen.
A Canadian chemical plant installed a large heated blower-purge style compressed air dryer, years ago, to condition the instrument air system against freezing temperatures.  The dryer selected was oversized for the connected air compressors and had unused on-board energy savings features.  A compressed air assessment revealed the site air compressors and compressed air dryers were running inefficiently and causing in-plant pressure problems.  Repairs to a compressed air dryer and the replacement of aging air compressors and dryers has reduced compressed air energy costs by 31 percent.
Atlas Copco has a long history serving the Houston-based energy and chemical industries with custom-engineered packages. The objective of this article is to show just a few examples of the custom applications typically engineered and manufactured in the Atlas Copco Houston operation. Opened in 2012, Atlas Copco Houston produces standard compressed air dryers as well as completely engineered air dryers for all markets. The air flow capacity of the dryers, produced at this location, vary from 5 to 12,750 scfm. This capacity range covers heatless, heated purge and blower purge air dryers.
Insufficient focus at the design phase will kill a project. In one aerospace project, insufficient detail was paid to the physical size of the air compressor. The compressor didn’t fit in the allocated space—requiring the extension of the building, and costing tens of thousands of unbudgeted dollars. That had a significant, negative impact on the project return. 
Imagine a dairy farm. Do pictures of idyllic pastures populated by grazing, happy cows come to mind? What about the not-so-idyllic image of farmers milking cows by hand? Modern dairy farms work a little differently. Darigold, a farmer-owned dairy co-op located in the Pacific Northwest, has the happy cows, but production is more sophisticated. The company has eleven state-of-the-art production facilities churning out high-quality dairy products at mind-boggling rates. Milk, for instance, is produced to the tune of 2.6 million gallons per day. To maintain efficient production at scale, Darigold also has an innovative energy management program in place.
To produce healthy, high-quality cooking oil, this food processing company crushes and processes oil seeds shipped in from local farms. The oil produced is thought to be the healthiest cooking oil available, because it is low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), and polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), like omega-3 fatty acids. To increase the energy efficiency of its oil seed crushing and processing facility, the company optimized its compressed air system by combining three separate systems into one. Some end-use optimization was done to correct low pressure, particularly caused by some critical high-flow, short-duration events.
According to the Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the three major contaminants in compressed air are solid particles, water, and oil. CAGI promotes proper use of air compressors with various educational tools, while ISO 8573 is directed at the very specific areas of compressed air purity and test methods, which this article will address. Microorganisms are also considered a major contaminant by CAGI, but will not be discussed in this article.