Save Money Using Compressed Air Flow Meters
Using a compressed air flow meter to monitor compressed air flow in industrial settings helps manufacturers save energy, cut costs, and improve efficiency and performance.
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. Now in a smaller area, the condensed air produces more pressure as the gas tries to return to its previous volume.
Compressed air is the fourth utility after electricity, natural gas, and water. The utility is generated by the user, though, 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?
When we compress air in a system to 100 PSIG (7 bar), it serves as a good energy source. It is preferred over electricity because it’s clean, simple, efficient, convenient, and safer. For this reason, compressed air fuels numerous industrial applications. It also represents globally approximately 10% of the energy used in industrial applications.
What is process air?
Compressed air is called process air when it is in a process.
Where is compressed air used?
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Why monitor compressed air flow?
Compressed air requires more electricity than most industrial equipment. Usually, it accounts for about a third of the electrical use in an industrial environment, making compressed air a pivotal component in any manufacturer’s production process and quickly impacts its bottom line.
Compressed air is not only expensive, but it’s also usually wasted. In any unoptimized system where problems such as leaks, pressure drops, and excessive pressure exist, 30% of the compressed air is likely lost.
Compressed air leakage commonly goes unnoticed and ignored in many industrial environments because it doesn’t create a distinguishable mess. Other equipment usually drowns out compressed air hissing from leaks while water and oil leaks form a puddle and natural gas leaks smell.
Compressed air energy saving tips
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 quickly 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).
Compressed Air Flow Meters
In large industrial applications, a thermal mass meter is an excellent compressed air flow meter. It can help determine when and where compressed air is used, identify waste, therefore improve operational efficiency.
Using multiple air compressors and knowing the flow rate from each can help optimize compressed air distribution and determine the compressors’ efficiency. Optimizing compressed air flow may postpone the need to buy a new compressor. Also, the measurements will help size a new compressor when it is time to purchase. Air mass flow measurements may also inform the user if it is appropriate to shut down a compressor during reduced airflow periods.
A thermal mass flow meter has low-end sensitivity and can detect if a compressor system is leaking when the system is off. The Sage Meter can measure direct mass flow as low as 5 SFPM (or 1 SCFM in a 6-inch pipe).
Compressed Air Monitoring Systems
Sage Metering manufactures Paramount and Prime in insertion-style configurations with an isolation assembly valve to accommodate easy installation and onsite calibration. The Sage Meters are the perfect devices to detect compressed air leaks, and with Modbus compliant communications, it’s ideal for complex energy management systems.
You can find more information about monitoring and measuring gas mass flow on this Sage Metering flowmeter technical note.
Image by terimakasih0 and Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay