A combination of high energy prices in many parts of the world and the urgent need for more sustainable production mean preserving energy has never been so important. When it comes to compressing gas, energy takes around 80% of the lifetime cost of a compressor. The Aftermarket Solutions team at compressor and expander manufacturer Atlas Copco Gas and Process have been examining the example of gas compression usage and have come up with seven top recommendations to save energy.
1. Realign your equipment to the real demand
The Atlas Copco Gas and Process Aftermarket Solutions team estimates that compressors have an average efficiency improvement potential of 10%. This might not seem much, but the results quickly add up. Therefore, it’s important to frequently evaluate your system and plant requirements for over-capacity and other potential savings.
2. Eliminate air leakages and losses
Up to 5% of compressor energy is lost via blow-off-losses or is down to small but increased leaks within machinery. Think of it as money vanishing into the air. Eliminate gas leakages and losses and make constant monitoring a top priority. There are many ways to do this, ranging from highly sophisticated scanners to low-technology methods (such as checking for leaks by applying soapy water to suspected leak areas and waiting to see if bubbles form).
3. Make full use of what you have
Make full use of what you have, such as by combining two independent processes. For example, don´t waste your pressure let-down application potential: expanding pressure is a great energy source if combined with compressors – no matter if the source is small or large: every kW counts when saving energy.
4. Optimize your ambient temperature
The best way to optimize your compressor environment is by making sure that you run your compressors in clean, cool, and well-ventilated environments. Keep the room air free from dust and moisture contamination to minimize aftercooler, dryer, and filter treatment. For every reduction of 5°C in ambient temperature, you can achieve energy savings of 1.5%.
5. Perform regular maintenance
At first glance, maintenance has a lot more to do with reliability than efficiency. However, in many cases, they go hand-in-hand. Perform regular preventative maintenance, regular check-ups, and energy audits to not only extend the lifespan of compressor and expander equipment but to also improve efficiencies. Maintenance optimizes the performance of the entire system and it reduces the amount of energy consumed. A great example is periodic inspections and regularly replacing wearing parts to reduce leaks.
6. Recover heat
Compressing gas not only consumes a lot of energy, but it also generates a lot of (normally waste) heat. Recover heat and reduce energy bills by reusing the power consumed during the compression process for applications such as heating water, replacing furnaces, or in drying processes. Simply connecting the intercooler water outlet or the compressor discharge to a heating system in winter is a great example.
7. Use green energy
Use green energy, whether through solar panels or wind turbines, to power your production (this recommendation is obviously not limited to your compressor equipment). Yes, these can constitute significant investments, but many governments will now subsidize them to make sure that climate protection goals can be met. In addition, once you sit down, talk to the experts, and do the math, you will find out that these are not just major investments but, more importantly, good investments.