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If compressed air systems in use in the industrial sector were upgraded by taking advantage of all cost-effective efficiency measures, estimates are that 163 Trillion BTUs of energy would saved at the source (power station), resulting in a dollar savings by industries of $777 million per year (at 5 cents per kWh).1
There are many common compressed air applications that are widely used in today’s manufacturing facilities that are low cost solutions with relatively high-energy savings and fast ROI depending on the cost of electricity and the hours of operation.
Most manufacturing facilities use compressed air for at least some functions; for many plants, energy for compressed air systems is a substantial portion of the entire electric bill.
Typically, nearly 20% of total motor energy goes to producing compressed air, yet compressed air systems are inherently inefficient, producing only one unit of useful work for every 5 units of energy input. Many compressor systems are poorly laid out and have leaking fixtures. Further, motor/compressor systems are frequently mismatched to loads.
The Compressed Air Challenge is a voluntary collaboration of industrial users, manufacturers, distributors and their associations, consultants, state research and development agencies, energy efficiency organizations, and utilities whose aim is to improve the performance of compressed air systems.
The Department of Energy offers tools, training, assessment, case studies, tip sheets, and technical publications on compressed air systems focused on improving performance and saving energy.
1Compressed Air Systems “The Compressed Air Challenge” http://www1.eere.energy.gov/manufacturing/tech_deployment/compressed_air.html (Aug. 2012).