Plant & Works Engineering
Energy efficiency at the top of the agenda
Published:  05 May, 2017

For industrial compressed-air plants, the cost of acquisition accounts on average for only about 30% of the total lifecycle cost. The remaining 70% - energy costs. The good news is: upgrading to the latest compressed-air technology can reduce those costs significantly. It is no surprise then that energy efficiency remained top of the agenda at ComVac, at this year's Hannover Fair.

ComVac staged recently at the Hannover Fair, Germany, showcased the current state-of-the art industrial compressed-air and vacuum-air technology. As well as the ever-important theme of energy efficiency, the exhibits also had a strong emphasis on Industry 4.0 and predictive maintenance. This year's ComVac featured an array of new products and solutions. The following is a selection of highlights.

Drying technology

Water condensation is the enemy of industrial compressed-air systems, so it is vital to have effective drying technologies to eliminate water vapour. BASF SE highlighted such a technology - adsorption drying - which it unveiled at the event. As used in compressed-air systems, adsorption is where molecules of water (the adsorbate) accumulate on the surface of a solid adsorbent medium. Unlike absorption (where the water permeates into a medium like a sponge), the water is 'trapped' on the surface of the medium, leaving the air dry.

The DRYPOINT RA series of refrigeration dryers by BEKO Technologies GmbH automatically adjust their output in accordance with compressed-air withdrawal (demand), thereby reducing partial-load operating costs by up to 70% compared with conventional refrigeration dryers. The technology has applications wherever compressed-air systems and products require reliable protection from condensates and contamination. Drying is achieved by cooling the air, resulting in condensation which is then discharged with no loss of compressed air. The air is then reheated, reducing the relative humidity of the dried air to below 30%. The amount of energy used in this process varies according to the required drying performance, thereby further lowering energy costs and protecting the environment.

Meanwhile, at BOGE presented a prototype of its S-4 Optimus rotary screw compressor. The purpose of the S-4 Optimus project is to demonstrate what a quiet, efficient and smart future might look like. BOGE also presented an array of standalone devices and components, as well as intelligent machine and central control systems and remote monitoring solutions.

While Atlas Copco showcased its GA 90+-160+/GA 110-160 VSD series of oil-injected rotary screw compressors. The series' integrated variable speed drive (VSD) technology and energy recovery systems yield significant energy savings and reductions in operating costs. They also feature latest-generation oil-injected rotary screw elements for longer service life and trouble-free operation.

Gardner Denver used ComVac to launch a new, water-cooled oil-free compressor from its CompAir brand - Ultima - offering up to 12% improved energy efficiency compared to a conventional two-stage machine with a 37% smaller footprint. See PWE's special report on this new compressor.

In today's factories, system reliability is everything, which is why Ingersoll-Rand International Ltd. recently introduced its next-generation R-Series of rotary screw compressors. The airend comprises precision-engineered rotating, intermeshing helical rotors that deliver optimal reliability. The R-Series also offers overall energy efficiency improvements of up to 13% compared with legacy products.