Energy Recovery in Air Compressor Systems
Compressed air systems are renowned for offering quality air solutions in industrial settings but can often waste heat energy that can be expensive to deal with.
However, energy recovery is possible within your compressed air system, helping you to reduce energy costs and improve environmental sustainability.
We’ve shared everything you need to know about energy recovery to enjoy a system that works hard for you.
Understanding Air Compressors and Energy Production
In the industrial arena, around a tenth of all electrical energy supplied is used to power compressed air systems that then convert around 94% of that to heat. The heat energy supplied is generated to power the compressed air system, but what’s frustrating is that the heat generated then has to be cooled down using chillers and cooling fans!
It’s clear that this method of heating and cooling is not efficient, and causes hikes in energy bills, and the company’s carbon emissions! Rather than putting up with this, finding a new way to deal with the excess heat in heat recovery systems can offer a better way to manage the warm air, and offers a simple way to reduce heating costs.
The Concept of an Energy Recovery System
Energy recovery systems work to divert hot water or hot air from your compressed air system and convert it into a heat source that can be used in other ways.
Interestingly, the recovered heat offers a supplementary heat source that can reduce the pressure on the boiler, helping you save heating fuel and reduce your energy costs in other areas.
The potential of energy recovered in an air compressor plant room is significant. When you consider that up to 90% of the heat generated can be recovered from a modern screw compressor, it’s clear that significant savings can be made, helping to enhance profitability and offer a more environmentally friendly solution.
Types of Energy Recovery Systems
When it comes to heat recovery systems, there are a number of options to choose from, including:
- Air-Cooled Lubricant Injected Rotary Screw Compressors
- Water-Cooled Lubricant Injected Compressors
- Water-Cooled Oil-Free Compressors
- Engine Driven Compressors
Choosing the right solution for your needs depends on your compressed air system, the amount of waste heat you are producing as well as your budget, how much hot water is required, and the stable heat energy demand you have in your industrial compressed air operation.
The Main Benefits of Energy Recovery Systems
Are you considering a waste heat recovery system for your air compressor? You can look forward to many benefits when you decide to invest. Some of the main benefits of heat recovery systems include:
- Energy Savings
- Reduced CO2 Emissions
- Increases Operational Sustainability
Each of these benefits works hard to help you reduce the wasted excess heat generated from your compressed air system hot air, and convert it in the heat exchanger so that you can enjoy hot water when it is required, without needing to increase the energy required.
Practical Applications of Energy Recovery
Whether you have oil-lubricated compressors or a different air compressor model, there are several practical applications for the energy you have recovered. In fact, the recovered energy demand is sure to impress when you utilise it for one of the following uses:
Space Heating Systems
Keeping your premises warm can be expensive, especially during the colder months. By recovering heat, you can then use it to lower your heating bill and increase the ambient temperature whenever needed. This cost-efficient model will ensure that you can heat your location when needed, or even preheat the area before work starts for the day.
Water Heating Costs
Heating water takes up a lot of available energy but is essential for a wide range of industrial processes. When you create hot water with energy recovery, you can enjoy pre-heated water whenever you need it cost-efficiently. When you don’t need all the energy on offer, you can use the cooling system to drop the thermal energy temperature required to a level that works for you.
Industrial Process Solutions
It’s not just heating and hot water that can be produced through recovered energy, but also a range of industrial processes can be supported with the supplement energy supplied. From a range of chemical processes to cutting, separation, moulding and more, you can look forward to your input energy being converted in a way that works for your industrial needs.
Factors That Affect Energy Recovery
As with any process, there are a variety of factors that can impact your energy recovery processes and usage. Take a look at some of the most significant now:
Seasonal Variable Load
Seasonal changes can significantly impact energy recovery, especially when your hot water or space heating bill traditionally goes up in the colder months and reduces when it is warm.
During each season you will find that your need for specific functions, such as hot water, varies and being aware of what you may need your heat exchanger to do is a great way to plan for all eventualities.
Remember that your compressed air systems will probably be in use all year round, so take time to carefully consider how to utilise the heat recovery process to work best for you.
Compressed Air System Utilisation
When you want to save money on your cooling water system, or make sufficient quantities of heat for hot water system support, you must first consider the compressed air compressor you are using.
As the compression process works to remove heat when compressing air using a heat exchanger or a compression heat fan, you must set your system to recover as much electricity as possible.
To utilise your total industrial electricity consumption in a way that can be redirected to the facility’s heating system or hot water system, it’s important to recover at least 90% of the electricity for the very best outcomes.
Modern Air Compressors and Heat Recovery
As compressed air solutions from companies like Atlas Copco work hard to find new ways to save energy, you will find that many air compressors now feature heat recovery as part of their overall design. This means built-in heat exchanger options and better access to heat solutions that can save energy, lower costs, and redirect electricity to be used in other applications.
Modern air compressors hold significant potential for heat recovery, harnessing the excess heat generated during compression processes. This recovered heat can be repurposed for various applications, such as preheating air or water, thus enhancing overall energy efficiency and reducing operational costs.
By tapping into this thermal energy, industries can minimise waste, optimise resource utilisation, and contribute to sustainable practices, aligning with the growing emphasis on energy conservation and environmental responsibility.
Let Control Gear Support Your Energy Recovery Needs
It’s clear that investing in a heat recovery system is a great way to utilise recovered waste heat energy, save energy, and reduce your overall energy costs. However, knowing how to proceed can be difficult, but Control Gear are here to help.
Get in touch today to find out more about how to conduct an audit of your energy consumed so that you can identify the key areas for energy-efficient recovery!