Exploring the Efficiency of Air Compressors

On average, only 45-60% of energy used to run compressed air systems reaches production. The remaining consumed energy is lost via poor maintenance, improper use, and wasted time.

Luckily, this loss is not an inevitable component of using compressed air. There are ways to increase your system’s efficiency. With the right tools and plan, your compressor system could see an energy savings jump.

The graphic below (click to make full-size) outlines the biggest sources of energy loss in compressed air systems; most are due to human negligence.

Loss in Air Compressor systems Final

Basic Definitions:

Artificial Demand occurs whenever a system runs at a higher pressure than is necessary (Average Energy Loss = 10-15%)

Inappropriate Uses are tasks that could easily be accomplished through others tools, but compressed air is used instead. Examples: sweeping, blowing off, personal cooling (Average Energy Loss = 5-10 %)

Idle Time causes extra costs when the machine is running but production is not (Average Energy Loss = 5-10%)

Leaks are breaks in the compressed air delivery method, often in the last 30 feet of a system. (Average Energy Loss = 25-30%)

Heat is generated as a byproduct of the compressed air process. Up to 85% of the incoming energy is used lost due to heat compression. Up to 30% of this heat could be recaptured.


How to Increase Efficiency:

With some basic behavioral changes, effects could be seen immediately in your system.

  • Reduce your system pressure
    • According to the US. Department of Energy, every 2 psig reduction could save about 1% in compressor efficiency
  • Only Use Compressed Air when necessary
    • Monitor how worker’s use
  • Turn Compressors off on the weekends and after hours
    • Savings could be as high as $18,000 a year!
  • Schedule regular maintenance to inspect and fix leaks
    • CASCO USA service technicians available here
  • Recapture & Repurpose heat loss

To put this problem in perspective, the US Department of Energy estimates that 30% of a facility’s electrical bill is compressed air related. That’s a huge chunk of money you could be saving by increasing your system’s efficiency!

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