Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Technology

When it comes to the selection of a lubricant for an air compressor application, one of the major deciding factors is the expected life of the fluid. Yet exactly how the expected life of the fluid is determined and compared, especially between manufacturers, can be confusing. Fortunately, there are tools and tests that can provide reliable predictions of performance – one of which is a Rotating Pressure Vessel Oxidation Test. Having the test performed goes a long way toward helping those responsible for air compressor performance and maintenance make an accurate comparison between the life expectancy of lubricants offered.

Air Compressors

Properly sizing a compressed air system can help determine if your facility has enough air to adequately supply your production equipment. Designing a cost effective system that minimizes any interruptions to productivity requires thoughtful planning and design. Typically, the desired outcomes of such a system focus on stable pressure and efficient operation, though it is important to note that each of these elements requires a unique solution. This article will provide guidance in proper selection considerations and suggest when a centrifugal air compressor may be ideal for your needs.

Air Treatment

The foundation of any purification system is its filtration and of the ten main contaminants found in a compressed air system, filtration is responsible for the treatment of nine of them. Coalescing filters are the most important piece of purification equipment as they reduce six of the ten contaminants and a look in any air compressor room will find a pair of coalescing filters (backed up with dry particulate and oil vapor removal filters).

Blowers

The plant upgrades, in combination with a progressive management strategy, allows the plant to consume less energy and reduce its reliance on outside contractors for biosolids removal, resulting in total operational savings of approximately $60,000 per year.  The plant is also positioned to efficiently manage the area’s wastewater for decades to come.

Compressor Controls

A large chemical plant in Celje, Slovenia, planned to retrofit a kiln used to produce titanium dioxide. To make space for the new equipment related to the retrofit, the plant needed to relocate its high-pressure compressed air system feeding an adjacent pressing process used to dry the material before firing it in the kiln. However, a comprehensive compressed air audit using cloud-based software showed the plant did not need to relocate the system.

Instrumentation

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.

Pneumatics

Electricity and compressed air play an important role in the thermal and kinetic processes for everything from mixing and extruding the ingredients, deep-freezing to -13°F (-25°C), dipping into various chocolate coatings through to final packaging. Energy efficiency is therefore right at the top of Unilever’s list of priorities. As part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, this global corporation has succeeded in saving more than $186 million in energy costs from efficiency improvements in production alone since 2008.

Vacuum

It’s one thing to move materials during the production process, but when it’s a finished product on the packaging line, choosing the right material handling system is essential. Getting it wrong results in squandered production time when product loss occurs, and wasted raw materials.

Cooling Systems

A large manufacturer of consumer glassware products in the North East sought a solution for injecting cold compressed air into its refractory furnace. Doing so would minimize the internal corrosion thereby extending the life of the furnace lining and their annual maintenance interval. The manufacturer opted for a unique solution from Aggreko Engineering featuring a rental, oil-free rotary screw air compressor combined with a heat exchanger and chiller.  Installed in 2019, the solution is expected to save the company $9 million monthly given the ability to maintain extend furnace maintenance from one year to two years – and boost plant uptime.
The AZEK Company is a producer of durable and low maintenance building materials, and like many manufacturers, it found its compressed air system to be time consuming and expensive to keep maintained. But that changed after the company replaced its outdated and faulty compressed air system with a new design that includes technically advanced air compressors, dryers, receiver tanks – as well as controls to provide better control of the entire system and achieve optimal performance.
When an automotive company added a new 200-horsepower (hp) rotary screw air compressor and accompanying dryer to a satellite building at its Chicago-area assembly plant, it needed a cost-effective way to integrate the equipment into its existing compressed air network. Doing so would allow plant personnel to easily monitor the air compressor’s performance and ensure it operates in harmony with the plant’s centrifugal air compressors. Importantly, it would contribute to efficient and reliabile air compressor operation at all times.
A major automotive company needed a newer and more efficient compressed air system at one of its manufacturing plants. The original system had been operating inefficiently with old equipment and controls. Faced with a major capital investment, the plant switched to a performance contracting model. 
As founding members of a startup company in the compressed air and gas purification and separation industry, nano-purification solutions felt a kinship with the owners, employees and mission of Death Wish Coffee Co. The kinship and nano-purification solutions’ expertise in onsite nitrogen generation led to the installation of a nitrogen generation system that contributes to the overall efficiencies and operational costs savings at the coffee roaster’s production operation in Round Lake, New York.
Compressed air contamination can come in various forms, including particles, water, oil, and microorganisms. Non-viable particle contamination is specified in ISO 8573-4:2019 as one of the major contaminants in compressed air to be monitored. Troubleshooting particle contamination with Laser Particle Counters (LPCs) is the focus of this article.
For many installations of industrial air dryers, a dilemma can occur when trying to achieve the correct balance between desired specifications and efficiency in the applications. Sometimes there is no way around a requirement to achieve ultra-dry dew points, but are we always considering the point-of-use needs when implementing a dry air solution? Often the dry air system is configured with one end goal in mind which is dry air but doing so without accounting for the point-of-use factors that can lead to added expenses and wasted energy.  
Wherever compressed air is used, accurate and continuous monitoring of the dew point temperature is advisable. The dew point provides information about the absolute humidity content of the compressed air. A too high humidity content can have negative effects on the quality of the final product, lead to problems during the manufacturing process, or even result in complete system shutdown. Therefore, operators of compressed air systems should address this issue before it causes serious and costly issues. The following explains the basics of dew point measurement and what is important in practice.
Dew point is simply the temperature to which air must be cooled for the water vapor within to condense into dew or frost. At any temperature, there is a maximum amount of water vapor that the air can hold. This maximum amount is called the water vapor saturation pressure. If more water vapor is added beyond this point, it will result in condensation.
For an organization to prove that it meets the standard it has to undergo a management system audit, either internal or external. The question, therefore, is how can those utilizing compressed air effectively evaluate their assets’ performance as part of an ISO 50001 energy management system and, in doing so, grow their bottom line and minimize their negative environmental footprint.
In the field of externally heated adsorption dryers there is a large variety of different systems on the market offering substantial flexibility in terms of process flows, dew points and energy demand. Often, economic parameters and project-specific requirements ultimately define the individual user-specific solution. This article discusses the basic types of desiccants used in compressed air dryers.