Energy: Efficient uses for the compressed air sector
Heat recovery, coordinated central control systems, and predictive maintenance increase energy efficiency.27 Jan 2017
In terms of energy efficiency, two German companies are world leaders. A US study even crowned Germany the “Efficiency Champion” two years ago. In actual fact, saving energy is a recognized economic factor in Germany. In 2015 alone, a turnover of 135 bn euros was generated through energy efficiency solutions in Germany, as demonstrated in a survey conducted by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the German Business Initiative on Energy Efficiency (DENEFF).
Energy efficiency and Industrie 4.0 are also mega trends at ComVac 2017. At the international top event for compressed air and vacuum technology, all major manufactures are presenting solutions that help users exploit potential energy savings with the aid of advanced technology.
One lever is the use of heat that is generated by the concentration of compressed air in compressors. According to information from ComVac exhibitor Kaeser , a modern screw compressor transforms 100 percent of the energy it receives into heat. “Up to 96 percent of this energy can be retrieved,” says the manufacturer.
Superordinate, integrated control systems for all compressors can save energy. Coordinated central control systems not only prevent individual compressors from overloading, they also ensure that the entire system operates efficiently. "Optimizing in this way allows clear drops in pressure in the system. More than 10 percent is possible in conjunction with a similar savings in energy," remarks the energy agency NRW.
Compressed air storage, which can balance out fluctuating demand, is also "of great importance to the cost effectiveness of a compressed air system and should be larger rather than smaller," recommends the energy agency. The same holds true for compressed-air conditioning: "Both under- and overshooting quality levels can and will lead to an increase in operating and energy costs,” according to the experts. Old compressed air supply systems which have developed over time should be inspected for leaks and if necessary refurbished entirely or in part.
The trend to compressed air contracting continues apace, as ComVac demonstrates. The advantage for businesses? They don’t have to maintain their own energy department or invest large sums in order to increase efficiency. How does it work? Users no longer generate compressed air with their own compressors, they purchase it at an agreed upon rate. The service provided by the manufacturer, supplier or contractor includes keeping the technology up-to-date, and adjusting the amount of compressed air when needed.
Predictive maintenance is increasingly being used to remotely maintain the systems: Modern compressors and components have internal control systems that continuously transmit monitoring data via the Ethernet or other interfaces to a superordinate system. With the aid of intelligent projection software, any loss of power can be detected early to determine the best time for maintenance.
This process is explained in depth at the new Predictive Maintenance Area at Motion, Drive & Automation in Hall 19. The MDA Forum will also discuss predictive maintenance, energy efficiency, Industrie 4.0, and other topics relevant to compressed air and vacuum technology. "Visitors to ComVac can benefit from its direct proximity to other major leading trade shows at HANNOVER MESSE," explains Sonia Wedell-Castellano, project director at Deutsche Messe. "MDA exhibitors are also ComVac customers, where they are interested mainly in compressors and vacuum pumps," says Wedell-Castellano. "In connection to MDA, Energy, Industrial Automation, and Digital Factory, ComVac 2017 shows how technology can grow across sectors to promote Industrie 4.0."
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