Compressed Air

Compressed air provides a safe and reliable source of pneumatic pressure for a wide range of industrial processes. However, with over 80% of its input energy being lost as heat, air compressors are naturally inefficient. Energy-Efficient process design should opt for alternatives wherever possible and isolate compressed air usage to only processes that mandate it. 

Existing compressed air systems can be effectively optimized by taking a systems approach that reduces demanded side air usage and utilizes appropriate technology and controls on the supply side. Energy savings from a holistic system improvement can range from 20 to 50 percent or more of a system’s electricity consumption. A properly managed compressed air system can not only save energy, but also reduce maintenance needs, improve production uptime, and lead to more reliable product quality.

Top Five Energy Efficiency Measures for Compressed Air Systems

  1. Eliminate inappropriate uses of compressed air
  2. Stabilize system pressure
  3. Explore lowering pressure requirements of end uses
  4. Minimize compressed air leaks
  5. Provide compressed air of appropriate pressure and quality for manufacturing processes

You can read related TIP SHEETS AND PUBLICATIONS to improve performance and save energy, accumulated over time by the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Learn more with the COMPRESSED AIR SYSTEM CHEAT SHEET or COMPRESSED AIR SYSTEM INFO CARD, explore additional resources specific to Better Plants partners, and connect with the compressed air-subject matter expert below.

Presentations


Learn about innovative, replicable compressed air-solutions and best practices implemented by Better Plants Challenge partners.

Life After a DOE INPLT Training: How to Implement Lessons Learned Across the Company

"Life After a DOE INPLT Training: How to Implement Lessons Learned Across the Company" was presented by Leslie Marshall from General Mills at the 2017 World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) session, "Filling the Jobs of Tomorrow Today: How Manufacturers Can Address Their Energy Management Workforce Needs." 

Tools Nissan has Used from DOE to Save Energy

"Tools Nissan has Used from DOE to Save Energy" was presented by Brett Rasmussen from Nissan North America, Inc. at the 2018 World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) session, "Sweet! Leveraging DOE's Integrated Tool Suite & Resources." 

Solutions


Learn about innovative, replicable compressed air-solutions and best practices implemented by Better Plants Challenge partners.

Darigold: Compressed Air System Optimization

Darigold worked off recommendations from the March 2015 INPLT and replaced an existing header pipe running from the compressors to a storage tank. The project reduced system pressure by 10 PSI, with plans to reduce pressure further to 14 PSI, equating to a savings of approximately 300,000 kWh and energy cost savings of $15,000. 

TE Connectivity: Holistic Compressed Air Optimization

TE Connectivity partnered with their compressor vendor to evaluate the plant’s compressed air system and identify opportunities for energy savings and improved system reliability. By the end of the five-phase project, the plant was able to reduce the system pressure by 22 psig, which lowered compressed air energy costs by 11 percent.

Johnson Controls: Compressed Air Efficiency Program

The Continuous Improvement team at Johnson Controls’ Middletown, Delaware, manufacturing plant implemented a comprehensive program to reduce compressed air leaks and inefficiencies in the plant production process, ultimately reducing its annual compressed air electrical costs by 37%.

J.R. Simplot: New Potato Processing Plant

J.R. Simplot’s showcase project is a new, 420,000 square foot, state-of-the-art potato processing plant that integrates innovative energy-efficient technologies, including several compressed air features, to achieve dramatic energy efficiency improvements of up to 25% while producing hundreds of millions of pounds of frozen potato products per year.

Saint-Gobain Corporation: Milford Compressed Air System Improvement

As part of its commitment to reducing its energy intensity, Saint-Gobain Corporation undertook a large compressed air system retrofit project at its Milford, Massachusetts, glass plant. After completion, the system improvement is estimated to deliver compressed air-energy savings of 15%.

 

Sourcebook


The compressed air sourcebook was developed for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). AMO undertook this project as a series of sourcebook publications. Other topics in this series include: process heating, steam, fan systems, pumping, and motor and drive systems.

Improving Compressed Air System Performance: A Sourcebook for Industry (Third Edition)

This sourcebook is designed to provide compressed air system users with a reference that outlines opportunities for system performance improvements. It is not intended to be a comprehensive technical text on improving compressed air systems, but rather a document that makes compressed air system users aware of the performance improvement potential, details some of the significant opportunities, and directs users to additional sources of assistance.

Tools


Access free software tools to help assess your compressed air system.

AIRMaster+

AIRMaster+ is a free online software tool that helps users analyze energy use and savings opportunities in industrial compressed air systems. Use AIRMaster+ to baseline existing and model future system operations improvements, and evaluate energy and dollar savings from many energy efficiency measures.

AIRMaster+ LogTool

The AIRMaster+ LogTool is a companion tool to AIRMaster+ that helps industrial users determine the operating dynamics of a compressed system. Use the LogTool first to gather critical data in preparation for AIRMaster+. Then, input that data into AIRMaster+ to model existing and future compressed air system upgrades.

Webinars


Pre-In-Plant Training Webinar (Compressed Air)

This pre-In-Plant Training webinar for the Better Plants Program covers the basics of finding energy savings in compressed air systems and introduces the AIRMaster+ software tool.


Subject Matter Expert - Kiran Thirumaran

Kiran Thirumaran holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and has been working on industrial energy efficiency since 2012. He was heavily involved with his university’s Industrial Assessment Center where he led his team in performing energy audits of manufacturing plants across the Carolinas and Southern Virginia. His current focus is managing interactions with industrial program partners in the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program for the Department of Energy. He was formerly employed with CLEAResult Consulting Inc, where he served as an energy engineer working closely with various electric and natural gas utilities in the Midwest region, helping them achieve their energy reduction targets through the effective implementation of energy efficiency rebate programs.

You can reach Kiran with compressed air-related questions at thirumarank@ornl.gov