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Media / Application stories / Automotive textile manufacturer recovers major energy savings from compressor waste heat

Automotive textile manufacturer recovers major energy savings from compressor waste heat


Wilrijk, July 2014. Automotive textile manufacturer Autofil Worldwide has achieved average cost savings of £ 37,000 a year and reduced annual CO2 emissions by 260,000 tonnes by adopting Atlas Copco’s energy recovery technology.

Based in Sherwood Park, Nottingham, UK, Autofil Worldwide is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of polyester yarns for the automotive sector. By recovering heat produced by the air compressor used in the manufacturing process, the company is able to raise the temperature of the process water it requires, which reduces overall energy usage.

ER-S5 energy recovery unit
A constant demand for compressed air and hot water
The primary manufacturing operations at Autofil’s plant require a substantial volume of compressed air, which is supplied via an Atlas Copco system. The system is controlled by an ES 360 optimiser, and comprises 12 compressors, including three GA 160+ units and a GA 250 compressor connected to a stand-alone ER-S5 energy recovery unit.   As well as the considerable demand for compressed air on site, the dyeing processing has an equally large requirement for process hot water. A 50,000 litre tank stores water for several dyeing process operations in the factory and the by-product heat from the GA 250 compressor is used to pre-heat this water to around 50°C, rather than relying on additional gas power to heat it at point of use.

Recovering more than 1.4 million KWh of energy a year 
This is made possible by the ER-S5 energy recovery unit, whereby hot oil from the compressor’s air end is diverted through a stainless steel plate heat exchanger. Heat from the oil is transferred to cool water on the opposite side of the exchanger, producing a continuous flow of hot water from the ER outlet.   The water circuit between the tank and ER unit takes cooler water and replaces it with the heated water. After a few hours, this circuit reaches its optimum inlet/outlet temperature: inlet water from the top of the tank to the ER at +/- 30°C; outlet water fed back from the ER to the bottom of the tank at +/-55°C, achieving a temperature rise of 25°C.   Based on the compressor running for 8,424 hours per year, the combination of the GA 250 and ER-S5 unit is recovering more than 1.4 million KWh of energy a year. The savings are self-evident: to increase the temperature of the same amount of water with a gas-fuelled heating source would have cost Autofil £37,096 annually and would have generated 260,000 tonnes of CO2.

ES 360 optimiser controller allows a 360 degree visualisation 
Commenting on this substantial reduction in his company’s carbon footprint, Steve Charlton, Autofil’s Engineering and IT Manager, said: We are an energy conscious company and constantly strive for improved efficiency and energy saving solutions in the way we run our operations. Atlas Copco’s Compressor Technique Service team have been able to provide sustainable energy-saving solutions over recent years to help us reduce our compressed air energy consumption, notably the introduction of their ES 360 optimiser controller which matches supply to demand, allowing us a 360 degree visualisation of the compressed air installation in terms of pressure, supply and demand. Now, we have added an energy recovery unit to further optimise the installation.”

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Atlas Copco is a world-leading provider of sustainable productivity solutions. The Group serves customers with innovative compressors, vacuum solutions and air treatment systems, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems. Atlas Copco develops products and service focused on productivity, energy efficiency, safety and ergonomics.  The company was founded in 1873, is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and has a global reach spanning more than 180 countries. In 2013, Atlas Copco had revenues of BSEK 84 (BEUR 9.7) and more than 40 000 employees.

Atlas Copco’s Compressor Technique business area provides industrial compressors, vacuum solutions, gas and process compressors and expanders, air and gas treatment equipment and air management systems. The business area has a global service network and innovates for sustainable productivity in the manufacturing, oil and gas, and process industries. Principal product development and manufacturing units are located in Belgium, Germany, the United States, China and India.