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Cover Story Part 2: Compressed Air: Your Most Expensive Utility  

By Roy Stuhlman Kaeser Compressors, Inc. |

Compressed air is your most expensive utility. This is a fact that has been documented time and time again. It takes 7 to 8 hp of electricity to produce 1 hp in an airtool. In many plants, the compressed air system is the largest user of electricity. Yet, despite rising utility rates, compressed-air-system efficiency is frequently misunderstood or too often overlooked. Every plant or processing facility manager should know the following: The actual cost of producing compressed air The volume of compressed air that is really required for the plant The specific operating pressure required in the plant In addition, does the person or department responsible for selecting compressed air equipment do so with energy costs in mind? And do you monitor the use of compressed air like your other utilities? Armed with this information, you are in a better position to put a plan in place to calculate power costs, review and select compressor and system controls, provide intermediate storage and control, identify and correct air leaks and eliminate artificial demand. Calculate Power Costs Depending on plant location and local power costs, the annual cost of electrical power can be equal to — or as much as two times greater than —…
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