Turn your air compressors into a sustainable source of energy

Converting recycled heat energy is a positive step forward to sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of a plant.

02/17/2016


Converting recycled heat energy is a positive step forward to sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of a plant. Courtesy: Matt Mazanec, Compressor World, LLCResources are limited and consumption is huge. While we are talking about sustainability and optimum use of unrenewable energy, the ground fact is that a large section of industrial fuel is still coming from natural gas, heating oil, and other forms of hydrocarbon. At one end, we are fighting to find out alternative ways to produce energy, at the other, continuous use of such bio-fuel is making it hard to stay competitive.

Industries and manufacturing units are only viewing water, air, and sun as alternative energy sources, while a whole lot of energy is being wasted on a regular basis in their immediate vicinity. If this energy were capitalized optimally, it would add remarkably to our energy supply and bring in unimaginable difference to the overall cost of production. This unattended (or poorly capitalized) source is the large amount of heat decapitated from industrial compressed air systems. By harnessing this heat energy, we can save huge money on our energy spending.

If you analyze closely, you will find that 100% of electrical energy used by a rotary screw air compressor is converted into heat energy. Out of this, 96% is recovered by industries and the remaining 4% is wasted. It is either radiated into the atmosphere or released through the compressor cooling system. If you look at a larger picture, converting recycled heat energy is a positive step forward to sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of a plant.

How to harness the Heat into an Energy Source

Both oil injected and oil-free rotary screw compressors are well suited for energy conversion. Usually an oil injected type compressor operates at as high as 185 F or more, while the oil-free design exceeds 300 F. They release warm air, which can be harnessed by integrating the compressor system with standard HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) dust work and controls.

The warm air coming out of the compressor can effectively be used for space heating. Simple methods, such as transferring the warm air generated to an area that requires heat can accomplish many purposes. This can be done by passing air across the after-cooler and lubricant cooler of the compressor. This improves air quality, extends lubricant life, and minimizes back pressure on the cooling fan of the air compressor.

Another useful application of rejected heat coming from air-cooled or oil-injected compressors is heating water or other process fluids. The compressor itself discharges water, which is as hot as 160F. The discharged hot water can be directly connected to the process that required continuous heating.

-Matt Mazanec is co-founder of Compressor World, LLC, a worldwide distributor of air compressors. Edited by Erin Dunne, production coordinator, CFE Media, edunne@cfemedia.com.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Product of the Year; Diagnose bearing failures; Asset performance management; Testing dust collector performance measures
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me