WASTE NOT, WANT NOT reducing the costs of compressed air

compressor is converted to heat and diverted away via a cooling medium. Using a recovery system, this heat is not lost and can be put to use in another way, such as for heating domestic or circuit water, or for process support. Indeed, a heat recovery system can pay for itself in as little as seven months. A further nine per cent reduction in

energy consumption can be achieved through the use of multi pressure systems. Booster compressors can be employed where a limited flow of higher pressure is needed, every 1 bar saved on pressure can save businesses seven per cent on electrical running costs. The use of intelligence control systems,

BOGE Smart Factory

BOGE Compressors’ general manager Mark Whitmore lays out a plan for reducing energy consumption, to save money and reduce the impact of industry on the environment


ompressed air is a vital industrial resource, but each year in the UK we

use over 10 TWh of electricity, equivalent to the output of almost one-and-a-half power stations – to produce it, resulting in over five million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) being emitted into the earth’s atmosphere. Clearly, this is far from ideal. Compressed air is used in a wide variety

of applications, including everything from powering tools and lifting equipment to propelling grit or shot for blasting and cleaning operations, but it can be an energy-intensive resource. Indeed, looking at the lifetime costs of owning and operating an air compressor, only around 15 per cent of the total is represented by the initial investment, and ten per cent by commissioning and maintenance. The balance, around 75 per cent of the total cost of ownership, is taken up by the energy needed to run the system. And in the UK, the cost of energy is only going to increase. The high cost of energy should not be a

business’s only concern. There is significant pressure building, both from government and from consumers, on manufacturers to reduce the impact their operations have on the environment. There are also incentives. In the UK, for


instance, the CRC Scheme encourages larger energy users in the public and private sectors to improve efficiency and cut emissions with tax benefits and financial rebates. So, there are very real financial benefits

for businesses that make their compressed air systems as efficient as they can be, but how can this be achieved? First, all compressed air systems, even

new ones, have leaks, and this wasted air is wasted money. The leak rate on an unmanaged compressed air system can be as high as 40–50 per cent of the generated output, and in certain applications even higher figures have been measured. Indeed, one 3mm hole in a compressed air system could cost a business over £1,000 a year in wasted energy. To rectify this, businesses should ask their equipment providers to include leak detection and/or an annual energy audit as part of their service. A well- maintained system should only lose around 5-10 per cent of the compressed air it generates to leakage, and operating at these levels could reduce energy consumption by as much as 20 per cent. A similar energy saving can be achieved

through the recovery of waste heat. A large amount of the energy taken in by a

meanwhile, can reduce energy consumption by up to 12 per cent. Electronic sequential controllers control multiple compressors around a single set pressure, and make them available as needed. So, for instance, instead of using a 100kW compressor at 60 per cent of its output, the system will select two 30kW compressors at 100 per cent of their output. These systems can operate up to 16 separate air compressors and can be set to vary pressure according to the requirements of production (for example, providing lower pressure at weekends). Finally, by upgrading a compressed air

system's drives, motors and speed controls, a reduction in energy consumption of 15 per cent can be achieved. While fixed-speed compressors are generally cheaper than equivalent variable speed/frequency compressors, they can consume between 20–70 per cent of their full load power when idling or in off-loaded running. The additional capital investment in variable speed/frequency compressors can therefore be recouped rapidly through energy savings. As we have seen, the process of

compressing air can be wasteful and, in today's ultra-competitive and environmentally conscious business environment, companies cannot afford to be throwing money down the drain. But by making a few tweaks in their compressed air systems, and making a few investments in up-to-date technologies, they can reap rewards long into the future.

BOGE T: +44 (0) 800 318 104


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