Keep up with compressed air

Sheila Kennedy says new technologies allow upgrades for efficiency and optimization.

By Sheila Kennedy, contributing editor

Compressed air systems are prevalent in industrial applications, large and small. Whether you want to upgrade to a more efficient system or component or optimize the ones you have, a variety of new technologies are at your disposal.

Advanced compressors

A new oil-injected screw-compressor design promotes energy efficiency and prolongs electrical component life. Atlas Copco’s new GA VSD range has a dedicated variable speed drive motor that matches output to demand and avoids compressor idling time. It has a “cool canopy,” single-ducting design that lowers temperatures at the element outlet and draws in less conductive dust. It also leverages IE3/NEMA premium efficiency motors.

“Our new GA VSD compressor can deliver up to of 35% energy savings, which, over the life of a compressor, yields tremendous savings that often provide a return on the initial capital investment in just a few years,” says Paul Humphreys, vice president of communications for Atlas Copco Compressors (www.atlascopco.us).

For small horsepower applications, Gardner Denver (www.gardnerdenverproducts.com) recently introduced new fixed and variable speed rotary-screw air compressor offerings, the Apex and Apex VS Series. Both the Apex and Apex VS Series utilize an Enduro airend operated by an AirSmart microprocessor controller, allowing for a plug-and-play compressed air system. Tank and dryer selections can be tailored to the system’s needs.

"From the easy-to-use AirSmart controller to the stainless steel braided hoses, the Apex and Apex VS series are differentiated when it comes to features in small horsepower rotary screw air compressors," says Drew Hoffman, product specialist for Gardner Denver.

Compressed air monitoring

Tools that monitor compressed-air consumption and identify leaks and inefficient air products have great savings potential. Exair’s new USB data logger can be used with the company’s digital flowmeter to maintain a measurement history, which can be transferred to a computer for viewing on included software, or imported into Excel. The USB data logger can be configured to record flow rates ranging from once per second up to once every 12 hours.

“The Exair USB Data Logger records all the measurements needed to baseline your compressed air consumption so you can generate an action plan to reduce your compressed air use,” says Brian Farno, application engineer for Exair Corporation (www.exair.com).

Energy efficient dryers

Heat-of-compression (HOC) dryers deliver clean, dry air while converting wasted heat into energy. Ingersoll Rand (www.ingersollrand.com) recently introduced an air-cooled HOC model that can be connected to as many as three oil-free compressors. A water-cooled model was introduced last year.

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics.Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at sheila@addcomm.com.

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“HOC dryers make use of the heat from the air compressor that is generated by the compression process. A water-cooled HOC dryer is the most cost-efficient dryer on the market to operate, but it has a higher initial investment than traditional desiccant dryers. The standard HOC product offering uses the heat generated by the compressor and only needs less than 1 kW of power to operate the controller,” says Chris Ursillo, air treatment marketing manager for Ingersoll Rand.

Blower product redesign

Kaeser (www.kaeser.com) plans to release a redesign of its BBC and FBC blower product models in early 2013. These units will expand the Com-paK Plus blower line to cover 3 hp to 150 hp, and will be available in both STC (wye-delta start) and OFC (variable frequency drive) versions. The inclusion of Sigma Control 2 enables remote access and integration with monitoring systems.

“Optimized air flow, reduced noise emissions and seamless integration result in a complete package design, which can be implemented in very basic remote applications to the most advanced with high-level communication requirements,” says Stephen Horne, Omega product manager for Kaeser Compressors.

Synthetic oil purifiers

Plant Services New Product Resource Center Our New Product Resource Center features thousands of industry-leading products, all searchable by category, product type and manufacturer.

Rotary screw air compressor users can reduce their compressor maintenance costs by continuously purifying their oil with the Ion Exchange technology in Fluid Metrics’ Compressor Oil Purifier. “A Dow Chemical test found the ion exchange resin to be extremely effective at removing acids and increasing the service life of synthetic compressor lubricants,” says Will Hurley, president of Fluid Metrics (www.fluidmetrics.com). It helps users to maintain their compressor fluids’ original physical and chemical properties.

“Compressor users utilizing this technology have documented increases in oil service life exceeding 56,000 hours, or more than seven times normal oil life, and realized dramatic savings in their compressors’ maintenance costs,” adds Hurley.

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