Industrial Utility Efficiency    

System Assessment

This article discusses some experiences in using cellular connected data loggers to perform a compressed air assessment during a time when travel was restricted. While not ideal, this exercise identified huge savings for this customer.

Compressor Controls

As part of its ongoing corporate initiative to find ways to reduce its energy bills, and the costly impact on the bottom line, a cleaning products plant, located southwest of Chicago, recently focused on improving their compressed air system operation. This company is a global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services. This article discussed their efforts to improve the operation of their compressed air system by implementing an innovative compressed air monitoring and control system.

Piping Storage

Since completion of the system upgrade in the fall of 2020, PC Forge is on track to save an average of 1.9 million kWh and $266,000.00 per year in energy costs – and increase the production capability of its forging operation by 40%. The project also achieved a one-year payback with a $245,000 incentive from Government of Ontario’s utility Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

End Uses

There are a tremendous variety of unique and creative ways people in the food industry have overcome their need for compressed air blowoffs used for cleaning, drying, cooling, conveying and overall processing. You may have seen some of them yourself. It is not uncommon to view open copper tubes, pipes with a crushed end, plugs or caps with holes drilled into them, modular flex coolant lines or nozzles designed for liquid application but blowing air.

Pressure

Most industrial systems like compressed air have essentially random demand if you look at the long-term life cycle of the system. Hundreds, even thousands of independent small and large subsystems require constant or varying flow. These demands are typically not timed or synchronized with each other, so they aggregate to a fairly random flow profile, within a range. That range changes significantly when production processes change. Certainly a 2-week audit might show some patterns that appear predictable for demand A (“production”) and demand B (“non-production”) or day type, but they change over time as the plant adapts to new production systems and removes old ones. If demand was that profile forever, a lesser experienced auditor might be tempted to size one set of compressors that work perfectly for that profile but not for alternates.

Air Treatment/N2

Regular testing of pure gases helps to ensure the safety of consumers and of end products. Whether the pure gas is used directly for medical patients, or in the manufacturing of food, beverages, or pharmaceutical products, quality is of the highest importance. Inadequate levels of purity or unsafe contamination can be detrimental to the products or consumers.

Leaks

One of the best ways to reduce compressed air costs is to look for ways to reduce leakage flow, an unnecessary load that is a constant demand on the compressed air system. This flow is never-ending and occurs during production periods, and during quiet times at night or on weekends. Reducing the flow in a well-controlled compressed air system will result in the reduction of compressor energy consumption, usually by about $1,750 per every 10 cfm, and often reduces pressure loss, allowing your machines to run better. This article discusses some recent experiences in using an acoustical imaging leak detector.

Pneumatics

In manufacturing and packaging facilities that rely on pneumatics, there’s a four-letter word worse than virtually any other: leak. Unidentified air leakage and unexpected maintenance in pneumatic systems are significant sources of revenue and productivity loss but identifying the cause of leakages and preventing unforeseen downtime is typically a challenge.

Vacuum Blowers

Operating the vacuum system at higher levels (then necessary) affects the needed volumetric flow to compensate for leaks. This required compensation of volume (ACFM) must be added to the nominal production flow demand. The ambient air leak into the system will expand to the highest vacuum level, which is known as the “Expansion Ratio.”
Like any system, to properly manage compressed air equipment some measurements have to be taken. Typically, some sort of data logging equipment is installed to measure various pressures, amps or power, flow, and sometimes temperatures and dewpoints. Placing this equipment on a system is like putting an electrocardiograph machine on a human heart, the heartbeat of the compressed air system in a plant can be analyzed to determine if everything is normal or if there is a problem, all without interrupting the system. 
A food processor was having compressed air problems, so they invited a compressed air auditor into their plant for an assessment and to help them size future permanent air compressors. The plant was experiencing low air pressure and detecting water in the compressed air lines despite having a desiccant air dryer. The auditor thoroughly analyzed the compressed air system production equipment and did end-use assessment and leakage detection. This article discusses the findings leading to a potential cost savings of 52% of the current level.
There are many reasons why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR® Energy Treasure Hunts have proven successful in helping companies save energy and natural resources, but one that rises to the top is their ability to build a culture of energy efficiency throughout an organization.
As part of an energy reduction effort, a Canadian technical college hired a compressed air auditor to do a leakage audit of their large campus, which houses over 30 mixed use buildings, including laboratories, research facilities, shops and classrooms. The audit found very few leaks, the reduction of which would achieve minimal savings; however, a few surprising items of interest were noticed during the study that showed very good potential for operating cost savings of 64% with an estimated $45,000 per year in reduced energy and water costs. This article discusses some of the findings and how savings can be achieved on lightly loaded compressed air systems.
In this article, we discuss problems associated with static electricity in industrial manufacturing operations and how to effectively address them. At the atomic level, materials have a balance of positively charged protons in the nucleus and negatively charged electrons in the shell. Balance requires the same number of each.  A static charge occurs when that balance shifts due to the loss or gain of one or more electrons from the atom or molecule. The primary mechanism for this loss or gain, among several possibilities, is friction.
The 2019 AEE World Energy Conference and Expo was held September 25-27 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. The event featured 14+ tracks, 56 sessions, over 260 individual speakers, and 62 exhibitors.  Both Chiller & Cooling Best Practices and Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazines were pleased to be in the literature bins at the 2019 AEE World!
Reverse pulse type dust collectors often represent a challenge to compressed air energy efficiency, and sometimes throw a wrench into the works by causing huge air pressure fluctuations, high transient flows and just plain large leaks. This article discusses this type of dust collector, often installed in food processing plants, and gives some real-life examples of problematic installations. Some suggested measures are mentioned to ensure your dust collectors keep running in a trouble-free manner.
Maintenance is the customer of controls and energy engineering is the customer of monitoring. And I discussed potential problems that can occur when combining monitoring and control in the same system. In this article, I will get more specific about building practical systems that address both controls and monitoring.
Launched in 2006, the TTU-IAC program provides manufacturers in the state with free energy, productivity, and waste assessments – including best practices for compressed air systems, and blowers and vacuum, as well as cooling towers and chillers. The assessments to date have provided manufacturers in the program with $27.48 million in recommended cost savings, equaling 3.82 trillion British thermal units of energy savings.
This article reviews the benefits and design considerations of controlling system pressure from the air compressor room to the production headers and selected production processes and areas. Over the last several decades, the phrase “demand-side control” has become the generic term to describe establishing a “flat line” header pressure using proper storage and an appropriate pressure regulator, or “pressure flow controller.” Use of a demand-side controller to control pressure and flow can be implemented at the entry to the production area header(s) and at selected production areas or processes.