On an energy in vs. energy out basis, compressed air is the most costly utility. The cost is high because it takes so much energy to make the large amount of high-pressure compressed air that are needed. Traditional manufacturing uses a lot of compressed air.
Using compressed air is a very wasteful process. It takes about 8-horse power from electric motors to get one-horse powers worth of useful work from compressed air on the shop floor.
Most industrial air compressors are powered by large electric motors. It takes many kilowatts of electricity from coal fired generating plants to run those energy hogs. In addition to the main compressor motors, there are other power users in a compressor facility. There are pumps for cooling water. There are refrigerated driers to get the moisture out of the compressed air. In addition, there are motors that power cooling tower fans. They all need electricity. Many lumps of coal are burned to supply compressed air.
Other resources are used up to make compressed air. They include lubricating oils, water treatment chemicals and cooling water.
Cutting the use of compressed air will reduce the amount of money spent on energy. Additionally there is a positive environmental impact by reducing the amount of coal, oil and water that gets used.
One way to reduce the amount of compressed air used is by fixing leaks.
Another way to save is by shutting off the supply as soon as the job is done. Shutting off the compressed air supply to idle production areas cuts off both venting and leaks. It also slows down the electric and water meters.
The best way to reduce compressed air use is to engineer a better way to get the job done. Ask, “Can the job be done without using compressed air at all?” Using alternatives to compressed air will increase your energy productivity and save money.
Squeezing dollars out of compressed air is good for the environment and good business.
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