Air Power Analytics' Approach
Industrial compressed air systems are notoriously inefficient. According to the US Dept of Energy, more than 90 billion kilowatt hours of electricity is consumed by air compressors in the United States each year. That's more than 10% of industrial electric consumption in the US!
Compressed air systems are often taken for granted. Most people think that it's free because the air is free. The "wire-to-air" efficiency of a typical compressed air system can be as low as
Over the 10 year life of an air compressor, more than ¾ of the operating cost goes to electricity. However, until now, there hasn't been a turn-key product to facilitate the metering, data collection, and analysis of industrial compressed air.
Businesses meter their gas, water, and electricity, but rarely do they measure their compressed air usage.
Most engineering audits look at the demand-side of the system, reducing leaks, eliminating inappropriate uses/consumers, and cleaning up the delivery system. But, reducing the compressed air consumption does not translate into proportional electrical savings. For example, if you reduce the consumption of compressed air by 30%, your modulation-controlled air compressor will still be running 91% of its horsepower. In reality, you have only reduced your energy consumption by 9%.
The other common approach is to focus on the supply-side, looking at the air compressor package, dryers, filters, separators, and pressure/flow control systems. Air compressor suppliers try to provide the best fit for your needs. But, its not their self interest to do a comprehensive assessment your real needs.
The Air Power Analytics methodology evaluates the entire compressed air system. We look at the demand-side first. Providing tools to help quantify leaks, eliminating inappropriate users, and lowering air pressure where appropriate, we help you determine your real needs. Then we look at the supply-side. Based on your actual compressed air usage profile, adjusted for planned demand reduction, we can show you your projected energy consumption under different scenarios. This allows you to "right-size" your compressed air production process.
Finally, put it all together into a plan with target savings, utility rebate forms, and carbon emission reduction report.
The Air Power Analytics methodology is based on Compressed Air Challenge® (CAC) principles, adapted to reflect our practical experience with years of evaluating compressed air systems. We take a three step approach:
- System Profile - before you can figure out where you're going, you have to know where you're starting from. We establish a baseline of your current system, including a detailed airflow to energy consumption profile.
- Reduce Demand - find and fix leaks, identify and eliminate inappropriate uses of compressed air, and reduce overall system pressure and shrink artificial demand.
- Optimize Supply - with a refined view of compressed air usage, ensure that the air compressors and supply-side equipment is right-sized for the job, and establish a comprehensive control strategy to meet the varying demands on the system.
All three of these steps are essential to performing an effective energy evaluation, and with our methodology, all can be done on the system while in full production. There is no need to suspend operations to perform this analysis.