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Are You Wasting Money By Not Fixing Compressed Air Leaks?

Compressed air produced is lost because of system leakage before it ever gets to the final user point. Detecting and fixing air leaks will help you save a lot on your energy cost per year.

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12 February 2021

Unlike a power supply, compressed air is generated onsite by the user and often the compressed air system is designed without accounting for measures such as air treatment, space capacity, proper piping material and the correct dimensioning of the air distribution system.

This can result in a compressed air system which is expensive to operate and doesn't help the user achieve productivity that the system is designed for.

Proper air treatment and using the correct material for piping is also significant as they can also result in a major cost impact to the user by generating leaks in the air distribution system.

Many studies revealed than on average 25% of all compressed air produced is lost due to system leakage before it reaches the final user point. In some extreme cases, the amount of air lost through system leakage is more than 80%.

What Is the Key Reason for Air Leaks?

Compressed air pipe damaged by moisture
It is critical to ensure the system is designed for minimal leakages. The key reason for leakages is corrosion in pipes.

Corrosion happens when semi treated air or untreated air laden with high level of moisture content and typical residual compressed air humidity of more than 50% enters the air network.

This moisture laden air starts working on damaging the pipe internals becoming the primary reason for the leaks.

Other reasons include improper material selection and loose joints where treaded or flanged or undersized pipes that create a very high velocity resulting in erosion of the pipe internals.

Let's examine the cost of system leakage and the energy savings plants have achieved by tackling their leaks.

What Will Compressed Air Leaks Cost?

total running cost

Example of leakages cost for 160 kW compressor

A typical fully loaded well-maintained oil-injected screw air compressor running at about 7 barg (100 psig) will consume between 15-20 kW to generate 100 cfm of compressed air. If we consider the power tariff in Australia of an average $0.20/kWhr, this would mean the cost of compressed air would be about $3.00 to $4.00 per hour of operation for every 100 cfm of constant compressed air flow. 


If the compressor were to run 24x7, it would clock an average of 8000 hours per year, this 100-cfm flow would cost between $24,000 to $32,000 per year just in the cost of electricity. Obviously, there would also be further costs in maintaining the compressor because of this operating time. 


If you need only 70 cfm of compressed air and your air leakage level is 30% you would need to run the 100cfm compressor continously nonstop resulting in a net loss of 30% which translated into $7,200 to $9,600 per year in leakages alone.


Avoid Losses with an Air Leak Test

Air leaks are an invisible enemy of a user's operation and end up adding to the cost of production. Before you start with a new investment project on your compressed air system please speak with us about conducting an air leak test and reviewing the existing installation which will help identify expensive leaks. Once done, you can determine the future requirements of your system and expansion plans.

Australia Compressor Technique