Compressed Air Optimization: Attacking Both the Demand and Supply Sides

Ron Marhsall, C.E.T., C.E.M.

Industrial Systems Officer
Marshall CA Consulting

Compressed air is one of the most expensive ways to power machines and equipment in the industrial environment. Yet few people realize this until a compressed air assessment is done. It takes about 8 times the energy input to a compressed air system to get one unit of energy out at the end use. If the compressed air system is inefficient this ratio can easily double or triple. Significant savings can usually be gained by better controlling compressors and reducing waste. Most power utility incentive programs focus on upgrading the compressors to more modern types, like variable frequency drive, leaving waste reduction and end use optimization undone. But once the compressed air production system is optimized, the change makes energy conservation measures that reduce flow and pressure more effective in reducing costs. There is a definite interaction between the demand and the supply sides that should be considered before embarking on any project. The paper will explore common demand and supply side energy conservation measures and how they interact. Some case studies will be presented showing actual verified projects.