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Improving Compressed Air System Efficiency- Know What You Really Need
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Compressed air is often the most expensive utility in an industrial facility, and cost-effective efficiency opportunities in both the production and use of compressed air are often ignored by facility operators. Leaks, inappropriate uses of compressed air, poor choice of compressors and ancillary equipment, pressure problems and poor attempts to solve them, and inefficient controls are among the many contributors to compressed air inefficiency in many industrial facilities. Through utility demand-side management (DSM) programs as well as their own efforts, Wisconsin Power and Light customers have been able to improve compressed air system efficiency over the past few years. One customer reduced compressed air operating costs by one third ($17,000/year saved) by reducing air use without reducing production. Another, by monitoring air production and energy requirements of the system, selected a properly sized 75 hp compressor to replace a worn-out 250 hp compressor and paid for the new compressor in less than three years from the energy savings. Many customers reduced air use by replacing open tube blow-offs with air amplification nozzles. Another customer installed a sophisticated multiple compressor control system, saving the cost of the control system in less than four years of reduced energy costs.
Terrell, R. E. (1998). Improving Compressed Air System Efficiency- Know What You Really Need. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu). Available electronically from