How to Make Air Compression Systems More Efficient

Improve Performance

Anything you can do to make appliances run more efficiently is going to save you money in the long run. A well-running vehicle will get you more miles per gallon, saving you money at the gas pump. And an efficient HVAC unit will do more than just effectively cool and heat your property, but do so with minimal strain.

The same matter also applies to manufacturing environments, which is why you see many industrial facilities working toward greening their systems to save on energy. Air compression systems shouldn’t become an exception to these efforts, as in many cases they represent up to 10 percent of the total energy output that an industrial facility uses. Even just a modest attempt to better the efficiency of a compressor system and it could represent significant savings. In this post, we’ll share some tips and tricks on how to reduce power consumption in an air compressor, while making it run faster and more effectively. Here’s a closer look:

How to Make Air Compression Systems More Efficient

Enhance the System Design

The more bends and turns in the compressed air system, the lesser the efficiency of the system. The reasons for such are two-fold. For starters, bends in the system often lead to pressure drops within the system, which can impact performance and efficiency. Secondly, the more bends in the system also translate to more parts that are needed. Whenever there are parts connected, there’s the potential for air leakages. Designing a system that is straight and uses minimal pieces to distribute compressed air to its tools will result in a system that’s much more overall efficient. Additionally, the scope of the system should also be considered. The larger the system and the further the air has to travel from compressor to tool, the more pressure it’s bound to lose along the way. Hence, instead of one large industrial air compressor, many facilities are moving more toward smaller units that are strategically placed throughout a facility.

Maintain Your System

Part of any compressed air optimization plan should include maintaining it regularly. Proper maintenance can help resolve some of the most common pain points associated with these systems, such as leaks and dirty filters that can limit performance.

Leaks are the leading cause of energy loss in compressed air systems, and it’s estimated that such leaks can sap performance by up to 30 percent while also requiring air compressors to run longer and use more energy to provide the pressure that is necessary. Make leak detection a priority, and be sure to check problematic areas such as near pipe joints, condensate traps, couplings, hoses and fittings. Repair as necessary.

Dirty filters can also sap compressed air system performance. Similar to how your HVAC filters can become clogged with dust, dirt and other particulates to limit efficiency, the same is true of filters in compressed air systems. If a compressed air system’s filters are dirty, it’s going to result in a drop in pressure and require the equipment to work harder. This will force it to use more energy.

Intake Air Adjustments

Air compressors need to draw in air to work properly, and the type of air that they draw in can make a big difference in system efficiency. When you’re looking to optimize this intake air, there are three things you should be taking a close look at: air temperature, air cleanliness and humidity. Here’s how these three factors can influence system performance:

  • Air temperature: Cooler air requires less energy to compress than warmer air.
  • Air cleanliness: Clean air moves much more fluidly throughout the compressed air system. Dirty, contaminated air doesn’t flow well throughout the system and can also accelerate wear and tear.
  • Humidity: Aim for your system to draw in cool, dry air. If there’s moisture in the air, it can accumulate within the system and lead to component damage, such as rusting.

Assess Your Compressed Air Needs

Another thing you can do to get serious about enhancing air compression system efficiency and minimizing your system’s power draw is to carefully analyze the load profile and minimize artificial demand. Ideally, you only want your air compressors to be supplying the amount of air that’s necessary to power the tools that your workers are using. If it’s supplying too much air, anything in excess of what the application requires essentially becomes wasted. For more information on how to calculate your compressor’s air needs and to optimize the system, read this blog post on our website.

Contact JHFoster Today

There isn’t one silver bullet that can help make your compressed air systems more efficient, but a number of small things that all add up in the long run. For more information on how to make your air compressor system perform more effectively and efficiently, contact JHFoster today. As we said in the opening, compressed air systems can represent up to 10 percent of a facility’s total energy usage, so any improvements that you can make in this area are likely to improve your bottom line. For more information, contact us today.