12 Steps to Optimize Overall Efficiency of Air Compressors

The energy cost of air compressor account for a large part of the total energy costs of industrial manufacturers. Typically, over the service life of an air compressor, its energy cost is usually several times higher than the purchase cost. This means that everything that can help industrial air compressors saving energy will have a significant impact on the total energy reduction, production costs and CO2 emissions of the plant.

Chris Harris, Business Owner

How to improve efficiency of air compressor, and reduce energy costs?

Let Kotech show you 12 ways to comprehensively improve energy reduction and air compressor efficiency, help plants and enterprises improve cost efficiency and possess stronger product competitiveness!

12 Steps to Optimize Overall Efficiency of Air Compressor

1. Determine actual demand pressure and reduce pressure losses

Compressed air will lost a portion of pressure after passing through each devices in the air compressor. Generally, the air pressure from the air compressor outlet to the factory use point cannot exceed 1 bar, or more strictly, it cannot exceed 10%, that is, 0.7 bar. The pressure drop of the cold dry filter section is generally 0.2 bar. Check the pressure drop of each section in detail, and maintain it in time if there is a problem. (Each bar of pressure increase will increase energy consumption by 7%-10%).

After the actual demand pressure of air compressor is determined, remember operate the compressor at the required pressure and do not exceed it, For every bar of pressure increase, your power consumption will increase by 7%. Set your air compressor to the lowest possible pressure for your specific application. Remember that increasing pressure does not compensate for a drop in system pressure due to leaks, pipe faults, or clogged filters.

Every 2 psi pressure reduction can reduce energy consumption by 1%. When selecting air compressor and evaluating the pressure requirements of air-using equipment, it is necessary to comprehensively consider the air supply pressure and air supply volume, and not blindly select high pressure and power equipment. Try to lower the exhaust pressure of the air compressor while ensuring normal production. The cylinders of many air-using equipment only require 3 to 4 bar, and only a few manipulators require more than 6 bar. (Every 1 bar pressure reduction can save about 7 to 10% energy cost).

2. Evaluate the actual compressed air usage

Compressed air consumption should never be a guesstimate. In order to find out how to improve air compressor efficiency, the whole system needs to be overall evaluated or audited.

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Evaluation. The air compressor equipment, filters, post-treatment, air line piping systems, etc. can be monitored directly according to the compressed air demand. During the evaluation, the air compressor equipment will be tested for loading and unloading time to determine the operating efficiency and loading rate of the air compressor. Many air compressor manufacturers will provide free compressed air evaluation projects to test the efficiency and effectiveness of the air compressors. The purpose of the evaluation is to choose the industrial air compressor that best suits based on actual pressured air demands, such as gas volume, pressure, peak air consumption at different times.

Audit. There are also paid energy efficiency audits that can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the basic information of the industrial compressed air system. Based on the data of the compressed air assessment, the energy efficiency audit will measure and record a full range of air compressor data information through more professional methods and tools, such as determining the utilization rate of compressed air by measuring current and other data.

To ensure the accuracy of the data, it is generally necessary to record data for one to two weeks, in order to observe and record any trends and demand fluctuations during normal working days and weekends, and develop overall efficiency improvement methods for the air compressor system.

The benefits of assessments and audits extend beyond reducing energy costs, they can also improve the overall efficiency of production, which can have a positive impact on profits.

If you are interested in having one of these air compressor service, contact us for free!

3. Choose the right type of air compressor

Different types of air compressors have different energy efficiency performances under different working conditions. So it is important to choose the most suitable type according to actual needs and working conditions, depending on these factors, you can choose screw type, medium and high pressure piston type, or centrifugal air compressor.

In addition, Using variable frequency drives or directly choosing permanent magnet variable frequency air compressors allows factories to adjust the motor speed, output pressure, and flow according to actual needs, avoiding unnecessary energy consumption caused by idling of the air compressor, which can reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency as well as cost efficiency. Know more about VSD(variable speed drive) air compressor advantages.

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4. Select the right air receiver

Air receivers are also a key element of any air compressor efficiency. Receivers should be selected based on the types of compressed air demand (continuous or intermittent) and should be sized according to the application requirements. Additional air receivers should also be installed at locations in the air compressor unit where there is frequent intermittent compressed air demand.

The design of air tanks directly affects the air compressor efficiency. In order to improve the efficiency of air compressor, well-designed structure can be used to increase volume, and insulation materials can be used for heat insulation.

Optimizing the structure of equipment rooms, under the condition of reasonable layout and structure of equipment, can reduce the pressure drop and leakage problems caused by interval arrangement, detour pipelines, etc., thereby improving the energy reduction, cost efficiency, and the efficiency of air compressors.

5. Proper piping and equipment layout is critical

Inappropriate piping system can also have a negative impact on compressed air quality. Pipeline materials should be adapted to production conditions (e.g. corrosion-resistant, chemically unaffected, etc.). Pipeline connections should always be completely sealed to prevent compressed air leakage.

Professionally optimized pipeline layout and system design can reduce pressure loss and leakage. Reasonable pipeline system design should try to optimize the process of compressed air transmission to the point of use and reduce pressure loss caused by passing through multiple equipment.

With reasonable equipment layout and structure, the air pressure drop and air leakage caused by interval arrangement, detour pipelines, etc. can be reduced, thereby improving the energy reduction, cost efficiency, and the efficiency of air compressors.

6. Configure air compressor treatment components to meet actual requirements

Air dryer. The minimum requirement for compressed air treatment is air dryer, as it prevents corrosion damage to equipment that caused by water in the air. Depending on production needs the higher level treatments such as filtration or desiccant may also be needed.

Choosing the right size air dryer for compressed air system is essential. Make sure the energy consumption of the dryer is proportional to the demand. An oversized dryer can significantly increase the electricity bill. Know more about the air dryer in air compressors.

Replace the filters regularly. While replacing air filters is a necessary measure to maintain air quality, it is also an energy saving opportunity. Delaying changing air filters costs more than you think! Clogged filters can cause pressure drops and affect efficiency. Ensure timely replacement to ensure the health of compressed air system.

Pre-filters. Pre-filters not only help to purify the air by removing oil and water, but also to a certain extent, particulate matter. Installing intake and cooling air pre-filters can extend the life of the air compressor and its components.

kotech air filters can also energy reduction, and improve cost efficiency

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Contact your local Kotech dealer today and discover how an air compressor can increase your productivity and safety.

7. Master control system of multiple equipment

Centralized control of multiple devices is a good way to improve modern enterprise management methods. Centralized linkage control of multiple air compressors can avoid the stepped exhaust pressure rise caused by parameter setting of multiple air compressors, resulting in waste of output air energy.

Joint control of multiple air compressor units, joint control of post-processing equipment and facilities, monitoring of air supply system flow, air supply pressure, and air supply temperature can effectively avoid various problems in equipment operation and improve equipment operation reliability.

Compressed air system structure diagram

In situations where the air consumption is large and the pressured air demand fluctuates greatly, it is difficult to use a single large-capacity air compressor to meet the needs of compressed air adjustment, and multiple air compressors are often used. Multi-unit group control technology is one of the effective methods to achieve energy saving under the operating conditions of multiple air compressors. It selects the required machines and number according to the actual air consumption, eliminates unnecessary waste, and has significant energy saving effects.

The industrial screw air compressor can reduce equipment unloading operation time through the group control system. The air pressure system adjusts the air supply pressure according to the actual pressure demand of the air end, which can achieve the purpose of improving the energy reduction, cost efficiency, and the efficiency of air compressor.

8. Repair and prevent any air leaks

    • Leaks are the largest source of energy waste in compressed air systems, aside from heat loss. It is estimated that up to 20% of total compressed air consumption may be lost due to air Pipeline systems over five years may have leak rates as high as 25%. Any leak is a waste of compressed air energy and electricity, greatly damages the energy reduction and cost efficiency, and should be taken seriously by enterprise managers.
    • How to detect and fix some simple leaks yourself can refer to our other blog “Detect and fix air leaks in air compressor repair“, but in fact there are still a large number of air leaks that are inconspicuous and appear internally.
      Complex leaks, so in order to minimize these problems, third-party help to detect these leaks may be necessary, and there are many ways to detect and calculate whether there is a compressed air leak. Improper gas pipeline design or leaks will lead to insufficient gas consumption and air compressor pressure that cannot be raised.
    • In addition to keeping the air clean, make sure to thoroughly clean the compressed air system regularly. Sludge, dust or dirt can have a great impact on the efficiency of the air compressor.

      Pay special attention to the compressor cooler and heat exchanger. Clean, dry ducts indicate good air quality and no corrosion issues. If the compressed air is not filtered, or the filter is clogged, particles in the compressed air can cause dust deposits in the ducts. Dust or sludge in the ducts is bad news and must be fixed immediately, because dust and sludge in the compressed air piping system can quickly lead to corrosion and greatly increase the risk of leaks. Driedand filtered compressed air keeps the ducts clean.

9. Low down the air compressor inlet temperature

  • The environment where the air compressor is located is generally more suitable to be placed indoors. Generally, the internal temperature of the air compressor station is higher than that of the outdoors, so outdoor air collection can be considered. Suitable space can ensure the quality of compressed air production.
  • Because the compressor will generate heat, it is important to consider optimal ventilation when arranging the compressor room. Plan enough maintenance space and use constant temperature control during the colder part of the year to ensure that the machine always maintains the correct operating temperature.
  • Do a good job of equipment maintenance and cleaning, increase the heat dissipation effect of the air compressor, the exchange effect of water cooling, air cooling and other heat exchangers, maintain oil quality, etc., all of which can reduce energy loss. According to the operating principle of the air compressor, the air compressor inhales natural air, undergoes multi-stage processing, and multi-stage compression to finally form high-pressure clean air to supply other equipment.

During this entire process, the natural air will be continuously compressed and absorb most of the heat energy converted from electrical energy. The temperature of the compressed air will rise accordingly.

Continuous high temperature is not conducive to the normal operation of the equipment, so it is necessary to continuously cool the equipment. At the same time, the natural air inhaled will reduce the intake temperature and increase the intake volume. This is a more ideal state.

10. Heat recovery saves energy costs

During the process of air compressing, a large portion of the power it uses is inevitably converted into heat. Therefore, it is necessary to consider a suitable heat recovery solution! Converting air compressor waste heat into useful energy through heat recovery technology offers manufacturers the opportunity of saving on energy costs significantly.

The achievable heat recovery rates range from 70-94%, depending on the size and run time of the compressor and the mode of operation. Heat recovery from compressed air can reduce the cost of purchasing energy, for example by heating hot water or using this waste heat for space heating or even electricity generation. It is this reduction that can achieve reduction.

While recovering energy, it lowers the working temperature of the air compressor, improves the overall energy reduction, cost efficiency, and the efficiency of air compressor, and greatly reduces the operating costs and carbon emissions of the entire factory, protecting the environment!

11. Prevent air waste and schedule regular maintenance

    • Wasting air is wasting money. Invest time and money in training employees to enable them to manage compressed air efficiently. Create a maintenance log and update it regularly to record anomalies or leaks in the system. Systematically mark leaks with appropriate labels and prioritize repairing and plugging leaks.
    • The operation and maintenance level of employees also has an important impact on the energy efficiency of air compressors. Therefore, regular employee training, raising employees’ awareness of the importance of air compressor energy efficiency, strengthening employee training on energy conservation awareness, and educating them on correct operation and maintenance methods, or establishing an energy management team and regularly conducting energy management assessments and improvement activities can further improve the overall energy efficiency level.
    • Regularly cleaning and replacing air filters, oil filters, and lubricating oils, and regularly checking and calibrating pressure sensors and control systems can effectively prevent a well-running air compressor system from being damaged, resulting in performance degradation and increased energy consumption.
      Maintaining and improving the efficiency of air compressors
    • Regular inspection and maintenance of the entire air compressor system can also detect problems in a timely manner, so that problems can be solved in the early stages when they are not so serious and energy efficiency has not been greatly affected, saving the entire operating cost including maintenance costs.

12. Apply for government grant programs

Notice relevant policies and industrial grant programs of the local government. Industrial projects that are energy-saving and emission reduction measures are more likely recognized and subsidized by the government.

The capital expenditures of factories and enterprises on projects on the excellent energy-saving performance and environmentally friendly air compressors and its related equipment and services can usually be offset by government funding programs or subsidies – sometimes up to 30%. This is certainly a way worth considering to save production and operating costs for factories or enterprises.

efficiency of air compressor

Conclusion

In summary, by determining the actual pressure, reducing pressure loss, evaluating the actual gas consumption, selecting the appropriate type of air compressor and gas tank, optimizing the pipeline and system layout, configuring processing equipment, centrally controlling multiple devices, timely repairing and preventing air leaks, optimizing the air compressor inlet temperature, using heat recovery technology, regular maintenance and applying for government grant programs, the energy reduction and efficiency of air compressors can be effectively improved, thereby reducing the entire production costs.

In industrial production, improving the energy reduction and efficiency of air compressor is not only beneficial to energy conservation and emission reduction for enterprises, but also conducive to enhancing the competitiveness and sustainable development capabilities of enterprises.

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