Save energy using compressed air monitoring for industrial applications

 In Measurement and Control of Natural Gas

With escalating energy costs and industries watching the bottom line, compressed air flow monitoring has been identified as a way to save energy, cut costs, improve efficiency and performance.

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What is compressed air?

Compressed air is the air that has been condensed or compressed to a pressure higher than the atmosphere. To make compressed air, you’d take a given mass of air and reduce it to a smaller space. The condensed air, now in a smaller area, produces greater pressure as the gas tries to return to its previous volume.

Compressed air is commonly referred to as the fourth utility after electricity, natural gas, and water. The utility is generated by the user, though, and when evaluating the cost per unit of energy, compressed air is more costly than other traditional energy sources.

Why do we use compressed air flow monitoring?

When we compress air in a system to 100 PSIG (7 bar), it serves as an adequate source of energy. It is preferred over electricity because it’s clean, simple, efficient, convenient, and safer. For this reason, compressed air is used in numerous industrial applications. It also represents globally, approximately 10% of the energy used in industrial applications.

Where is compressed air used?

Compressed air is used in a whole array of industrial applications. Some of the more common uses include automated assembly stations for products like appliances, automobiles, business machines, communication equipment, and electronics.

Some of the industries manufacturing compressed air for their systems are Food and Beverage, Pet Food, Chemical, Electronic, Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, and Computer.

What is process air?

When compressed air is incorporated into a process, it may be referred to as process air. Typical applications for process air are drying processes, aeration of clarifiers, and fermentation.

Why would we monitor compressed air flow?

Compressed air requires more electricity than most industrial equipment and usually accounts for about a third of the electrical use in an industrial environment. This makes compressed air a pivotal component in the manufacturer’s production process and quickly impacts the bottom line of the business.

Compressed air is not only expressive, but it’s also commonly wasted. In a system that hasn’t been optimized to fix problems like leaks, pressure drops, excessive pressure, it is likely that 30% of the compressed air is wasted.

Compressed air leakage is commonly ignored because it doesn’t create a distinguishable mess. While water and oil leaks forming a puddle natural gas leaks are associated with the smell of odorant, a compressed air leak is usually dismissed as background noise, or it’s drowned out by other equipment.

Compressed air energy saving tips

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The Sage Meter is the perfect tool to detect compressed air leaks, and with Modbus compliant communications, it’s ideal for complex energy management systems.

Identify leaks in compressor systems
The tiniest leak in a compressor system can be undetectable, and the cost can be staggering. A small leak can easily increase the manufacturer’s expense by $20,000 per year.

[Example, if a compressor system is running at 100 PSI and has a total leak opening(s) of ¼” it would pass 100 cubic feet per minute of compressed air. Assuming it is passing 24 hours/day, through the course of a year, the expense to the facility would exceed $20,000 each year (based on $0.12/KW/hour).]

A thermal mass flow meter has low-end sensitivity and can detect if a compressor system is leaking. The Sage Meter can measure direct mass flow as low as 5 SFPM (or 1 SCFM in a 6-inch pipe).

Use compressed air flowmeters
In large industrial applications, the thermal mass meter functions as a compressed air flow meter and can identify the optimal number of compressor units required in the application. This can generate significant savings. Additionally, the meter can ascertain overall performance, improve efficiency, reduce consumption, and ascertain if there is a leak in the system.

Compressed Air Monitoring Systems
Sage Metering manufactures an insertion style meter with an isolation assembly valve to accommodate easy installation as well as onsite calibration. The Sage Meter is the perfect tool to detect compressed air leaks, and with Modbus compliant communications, it’s ideal for complex energy management systems.

More information about monitoring and measuring gas mass flow can be found on Industrial Plant Applications for Gas Mass Flowmeters.

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