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Green globe sustainibility

The Role of Compressed Air Systems in Green Production

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5 February 2021

Topics

carbon capture square
Going green is all about energy efficiency and carbon reduction. Roughly 80% of a compressor's total cost of ownership is made up of energy costs. By investing in environmentally-friendly compressors and optimising your current air systems to use significantly less energy, you will see a reduction in the production costs of compressed air and the carbon footprint of the company.

So, exactly how much energy can be saved by going green? This may be an important question for smaller companies, as the initial higher purchase price of an energy-efficient compressor may be of concern. Taking the risk of using your old compressor can invite uncertainty about the reliability of your equipment and ability to maintain production processes.

Enjoy stability with green air compressors, as they guarantee a lower production cost of compressed air and is protected from fluctuating energy prices. With a green compressor you can also enjoy greater reliability, longer maintenance interval and ensures compliance will all current and upcoming emissions standards.

Environmentally-friendly compressors may have a higher purchase price, but also offer much lower operating costs. This provides payback in the long run as it positively affects the total cost of ownership (TCO). The total cost of ownership consists of the cost of buying, owning and operating during the compressors lifetime.

The initial purchase price of the compressor is only a small fraction of the total cost of ownership. Energy costs make up a large amount of the total cost of ownership and may continue to be an important issue going forward. The best investment option when it comes to energy costs is premium quality compressor products capaple of energy-saving operations.

Going green is not only about buying a new compressor. Providing the right level of care to your established installation will not only provide a return on investment, but also contribute substantially to the cost benefits of going green. Green compressor technologies contributes to a comfortable workplace enviroments and at the same time achieves significant energy savings.

A remarkable feature of energy is its ability to never diminish but rather transform into another type of energy. Heat is generated by compressor. This heat is usally allowed to dissipate as quickly as possible by businesses in order to keep ambient temperatures down. There is a better way to achieve this - heat recovery.

Purchasing a compressor with integrated energy recovery or installing a heat recovery system between the compressor and cooling and heating circuits will recover and re-use 70-94% of the energy required to run a compressor. The hot water which has been heated up to 90°C ahnd recovered from the compressed air system is most suitable for process-heating applications.

The need of purchasing energy is reduced thanks to the recovery of heat. This reduction results in lower CO2 emissions and operating costs. When it comes to companies meeting carbon reduction targets and improving the profitability of the manufacturing plant the energy cost savings is significant to these companies.

Picking the right compressor for your production is important. There are some things to consider when buying your air compressor:

  • How much airflow and pressure is required?
  • Which applications is the air compressor for?
  • Will the air compressor run constantly?
  • How important is air quality?
  • Does the air demand fluctuate or remain steady?
A Energy Consumption Analysis can help measure the efficiency of your existing compressed air installation. This is the best way to then discover possible energy savings from a compressed air system. The data from the analysis will help to improve the energy efficiency of your compressed air system. You will also find some answers to many of the questions to finding the most suitable air compressor for your production.

A fixed-speed compressor can be a great solution when the application requires a constant speed at all times. Once the fixed speed compressor is turned on, it gives full power. However, most industrial applications have a fluctuating air demand. A variable speed drive (VSD) compressor can then be a better choice, as the output is matched to user demand. In the long run, a VSD compressor will lead to considerable energy savings. With a VSD or VSD+ compressors, you will enjoy reliable top quality air and lower energy consumption by an average of 50%.

Deciding to go green and switch to an environmentally-friendly air compressor is one of the most important and beneficial choice you will make. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is another major considering when deciding which air compressor is suitable for your production. 

Green compressor innovation
Optimising an already existing compressed air network offers companies more options when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint and the cost of compressed air. Attention and care to your compressed air system is a requirement. Neglecting the maintenance of your compressed air system can lead to downtime which can prove to be quite costly.

For this reason a compressed air system should be regularly maintained, continually monitored and carefully controlled. While scheduled maintenance plans with the supplier should be mandatory, it is also important to be vigilannt on the day to day operation by the compressor user. The working air pressure is a simple example. A higher air pressure means an increase of energy use resulting in higher production costs. An increase of just one extra bar of pressure will result in an average of 7% more power required. This will quickly add up to a substantial increase.

As the compressor owner, you should be aware of how much pressure is actually required and where the system may lose pressure. The compressed air network should be designed in a way that the loss of pressure between the compressor and the furthest piece of equipment that consumes the air should be no greater than 0.1 bar.

Installing a state of the air master control system is the best way to manage a compressed air system, as it monitors the efficiency, availability and reliability of the compressor unit. The control system detects any problems and can automatically reduce the working pressure amd energy costs when the air demand is low. You can also pair your controller with smart connectivity technology to monitor and optimise a compressed air system from a remote location.

It is important to also ensure the quality of air supplied from a green system meets the required standard.

An increase of companies are "going green" as it is not only the right thing to do but also makes financial sense. This does however raise the question of whether switching to ecological equipment and production processed can ensure quality.

If your production requires a critical need to meet extremely high standards in their process air requirements, green technology should only be employed if it guarantees that final products are not compromised. It is often argued that certain applications must maintain stringent quality standards and it is more important that using the most environmentally-friendly equipment. That is why the compressed air industry's offerings must meet strict compliance with quality standards such as ISO 8573-1 and ISO 22000.

In order to protect sensitive processes, premium air treatment equipment will produce high air quality that is free of contaminants. Supplier companies which are ISO 22000-certified have demonstrated a commitment to provide food production systems which are clean and safe.

Tighter government emission standards. Governments try to meet emission targets through incentives and also more stringent emission standards and other environmental regulations. The only way to ensure that compressor equipment comply with new environmental rules for some time to come is by investing in cutting-edge and green technology. Older air compressors may soom no longer qualify under exisiting rules.

The right thing to do is to go green. The majority of scientists, through study, have told us that the planet is warming at a rate that will radically change how we live on it. In fact a number of natural disasters are already gaining in strength. Even more reason for compressor manufacturers to innovate solutions that help customers become carbon free and for production companies to embrace the material benefits of such green technology and together fight against climate change.

*Story originally seen on Atlas Copco Compressors UK

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