Compressed Air Cost – Are You Wasting Too Much?
Compressed air is around seven to eight times more expensive compared to electricity. This is a fact that many seem to forget. But you shouldn’t!
This is one of the biggest reasons why properly training employees in how to use and maintain compressed air systems is very important! The fact that it’s expensive is only the beginning.
What many don’t realize is that a lot of compressed air is put to waste after it is produced. That’s why you need to make sure that the people who work with compressed air regularly are aware of the cost of compressed air, as well as the things that you can do to save it.
You may be asking… how come compressed air is so expensive? Let’s take a look at this.
Let’s say the energy input is set at 100%. The first energy loss happens when electrical energy is converted to mechanical energy. An electric motor is used when turning the screw of the compressor, and this creates losses due to friction and resistance. This is not such a big loss, however. The loss is approximately at 5%.
Next is the actual air compression… and this is where a huge chunk of energy is lost. In fact about 80% of energy is lost in this stage. Heat is created during compression. You should get rid of that heat if you do not want your compressor to overheat or melt down. Overheating is one of the most common problems with air compressors.
Now all you have left is 15% of what you have put in. Now you have a steady supply of compressed air. Next, you need to clean the air and make sure that you remove all the dust, water, and oil. After that, you need to transport the air all the way to the point of use. Only then will you finally be able to use the compressed air for what you need!
Energy Wasters in Your Compressed Air System
- Air Leaks – 10% to 30% of compressed air is often wasted because of air leaks. This increases to up to 50% in bigger heavy-industry type factories.
- Pressure Drop – Air dryers, valves, filters, and piping all create a pressure drop. The problem here is that every machinery needs a minimum air pressure for it to run properly. To compensate for the drop, you have to set out your air compressor to a higher pressure, which of course, costs more energy.
- Artificial Demand – This is just a fancier term for using a higher pressure than what is actually needed.
- Inappropriate Use – This refers to every time compressed air is used when there could be other options for you.
The real problem is that most of the time, people just do not care or do not know how much they’re wasting every single day. That is why it is very important to have your employees trained in how to use compressed air correctly. When they realize that even a single air leak can possibly cost them a few hundred or thousand dollars every year, they will surely care more.
You see, just a little knowledge about compressed air systems together with proper maintenance can go a long way in minimizing your compressed air costs.