Compressed Air Energy Savings

Compressed Air Energy Savings

Quincy-QGV[1]While compressed air systems are an essential workhorse in most industrial facilities, they also carry the distinction of being one of the largest consumers of electricity.   Opportunities for compressed air system optimization are so significant the US Department of Energy has a dedicated website outlining methods for reducing their energy consumption. One area with high potential financial returns in bakeries and food processing facilities is utilization of the substantial waste heat streams generated by both the compressors and associated dryers, which is typically discharged outdoors (or in some cases air conditioned!)

Consider several potential uses for optimizing waste heat.  In northern climates each 100 brake horsepower air compressor has the potential to heat ten thousand square feet of area or preheat roughly 5,000 cfm of makeup air thereby reducing natural gas or electric space heating consumption.  Other geographic regions may benefit from boiler feed-water heating or similar temperature thermal processes.  Properly designed and executed typical financial returns are approximately 20% or greater for retrofit applications with new installations providing a less than one year payback on investment.

Caution should be exercised when evaluating proposals for compressed air heat waste recovery.  We have observed many installations by others that have not reclaimed promised thermal energy or in many cases have significantly damaged compressors and dryers.  One of the most common examples is improperly connecting air distribution ducting to the equipment.  Air compressors and dryers are not designed to overcome much air resistance while rejecting heat generated during mechanical use.  The higher static pressure of duct work may limit or entirely prevent the equipment from effectively releasing this energy causing increased energy consumption, compressor overheating, and eventual mechanical failure.  If you have any concerns regarding compressed air systems waste heat recovery systems please contact us and we will be glad to assist in implementation.



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