Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Technology

When users consider adding an oil free air compressor to their facility, there are several factors that should go into the decision to ensure it is the right equipment for the user’s operation. Some considerations and factors can include why to choose oil free to begin with; how to properly select and size the compressor; how to adjust sizing for different cooling water conditions or different ambient temperatures; and what it will take to maintain the compressor throughout its lifespan. To lay a foundation, it is important to first understand why oil free air is important, how compressed air is used and what options are on the market.

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

This article is for you if your company is purchasing nitrogen gas at 99.999% purity and you’re not sure why.  While there are many applications which do require nitrogen gas concentrated to 99.999%, they are significantly outweighed by the applications that don’t. Rather than relying on a delivery of bulk liquid or pressurized cylinders, many nitrogen users are choosing to produce a custom supply of nitrogen within their facility, and they are doing it at a fraction of the cost. Over the past decade we’ve seen a mass industry shift from delivered nitrogen supply, to nitrogen generation.

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

Micro-aerosolized droplets are how many members of the microbial world become cross-contaminants via the air mode of transmission.  Food borne viral pathogen Hepatitis A and the ubiquitous Norwalk are very often transported via micro- aerosols. It is well known that many viral or bacterial pathogens or spoilers are transmitted via respiratory bursts [coughs/ sneezes] from people or air handling system, condensate, and splash back from floors. Strict cGMPs  can limit  and control transmission in terms of personal & environmental  hygiene.

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 advent of manifold-mounted, plug-in pneumatic valves has been a boon for machine builders. It allows them to mount complete valve packages in a safe and secure location on a machine. Using a D-sub connector, serial interface module, or similar single-point wiring system, all of the electrical control outputs can feed into one location on the manifold, greatly simplifying the wiring.
Baseline measurements include flow, power, pressure, production output, and other relevant variables impacting compressed air use. These data evaluate trending averages to develop Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and Energy Performance Indicator (EnPI) parameters and establish base‑year performance. The focus of this article is the application, evaluation, and analysis of baseline measurements to provide information necessary to improve Compressed Air Supply Efficiency.
In modern and industrial work settings, people spend more than 90% of their time in enclosed spaces, such as warehouses, office buildings and factories. In most indoor environments, the air contains a variety of chemical and microbial particles, commonly defined as indoor pollutants, which can severely affect human health and product quality (1). Industries like food and beverage, medical devices and pharmaceutical manufacturers rely on their scheduled compliance testing to confirm the presence or absence of issues in workflow pipelines that are detrimental to the daily output and safety of the product.
The project, which also involved the addition of a booster air compressor and receiver tank – along with the installation of an important pressure control valve – gives the automaker the ability to run fewer centrifugal air compressors during peak production. In so doing, the plant saves nearly 6.1 million kWh and more than $600,000 per year in energy costs. The project also qualified for a $369,374 rebate from the local utility, resulting in a six-month project payback – all while improving system reliability.
The compressed air system at the mail sorting facility has been in service since the 90’s. Two older 50-horsepower (hp) air-cooled fixed-speed lubricated air compressors are housed in the equipment room of the facility. The air compressors duty cycle alternates between one another on a set schedule. A 240-gallon wet storage receiver is used to help with air compressor control, with the air flowing through the receiver to a non-cycling refrigerated air dryer and system filters before finally being passed to the plant.
A chemical packaging facility had done everything right when they last upgraded their compressed air system a few years ago. They installed a Variable Speed Drive (VSD) air compressor and implemented other energy efficiency measures, but plant expansions caused increased system demand, which exceeded the capacity of the system. The packaging lines were now seeing low pressure, causing shut downs in production. And projections showed plant demand would increase even further.
Often, multiple centrifugal air compressors are set up to simply react to air demand, which requires the system to not only meet the new demand, but also make up for air depleted in the main header. This typically results in too much supply, which results in bypassing the air to atmosphere. The result is wasted energy use.
In terms of compressed air systems, it’s not unusual to see a plant with 10 to 15 air compressors, each of which is rated to provide 3,000 to 4,000 scfm of air. The air is used for everything from moving product, to powering pneumatic tools, pumps, and fans, to cleaning. There are easily 1,500 pneumatic control valves at a single plant.
Long gone are the days when cost and performance could be the only concern for companies manufacturing refrigerated compressed air dryers using refrigerant compressors. In 2019, accelerated governmental (Europe) regulations and a global concern for sustainability have brought new considerations to the table. What is the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the refrigerants used in dryers and what is their environmental impact?
As demand for compressed air use continues to grow, the future looks bright for distributors who design, sell, install and service compressed air systems. But perhaps only one thing stands in the way of continued growth and profitability for the vast majority of distributors throughout the United States: the shortage of experienced air compressor service technicians.