Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Air Compressors

Compressed air systems are a source of power (a utility) present in virtually all manufacturing and process industries. What is unique about this utility is that facilities own the utility and are responsible for all the installation, generation, transmission, and maintenance costs of the compressed air system. Outsourcing compressed air as a utility, while not a new idea, is a growing trend in industry as service providers have increased their ability to meet customer expectations.
While biodegradable, energy efficient, and recyclable are terms that come to mind when thinking about protecting the environment we live in today, these three terms are also, ironically, directly related to protecting a company's bottom line... profit.
It's simple physics that compressing air gives off heat. The heat energy is concentrated in the decreasing volume of air. To maintain proper operating temperatures, the compressor must transfer excess heat to a cooling media before the air goes out into the pipe system. As much as 90 percent of that heat can be recovered for use in your operation. If you can supplement or replace the electricity, gas or oil needed to create hot water for washrooms, or direct warm air into a workspace, warehouse, loading dock, or entryway, the savings can really add up.
Since the cost of energy has dramatically increased during the past few years, it seems that energy audit companies have opened shop on more city street corners than coffee shops in Seattle.  In addition to the mass numbers and abundant varieties of these energy savings promoters, there have been an equal number of energy audit articles written for the engineering magazines.  
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!
Roxane Laboratories, Inc., a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation located in Columbus, Ohio, created a world-class air system that generated $61,314 per year in electrical energy cost savings (1,156,868 kWh), improved productivity and quality, and allowed the successful completion of a significant plant expansion.
This aluminum mill spends $369,000 annually in energy costs to operate their compressed air system. This system assessment recommends actions reducing annual energy costs by $120,000 and improving productivity and quality by delivering clean, dry compressed air.
A paper mill in Wisconsin reduced its’ yearly water consumption by 547.5 million gallons and reduced its’ yearly air compressor maintenance costs by $470,000.  
This article reviews two major processes in paper mills: compressed air quality and air compressor cooling.  The central air compressor room was expanded and relocated at the largest privately owned paper mill in Canada.  The compressor space was required by a plant expansion, which would occupy the original compressor space for increased production.
Compressed Air Best Practices® interviewed Mr. Sid Van der Meer and Mr. Terry Nickel from Northwest Equipment Ltd in Airdrie, Canada.