Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Vacuum Generation

Air-driven Venturi vacuum generators have long been a viable option for fast-response, localized, vacuum-powered systems. Through the last decade, they were considered convenient and flexible solutions with quick response time. However, they were not regarded as energy efficient, probably due to their use of compressed air. Extensive product development with this equipment — particularly the crucial system accessories — often makes the selection of the most energy-efficient items difficult for many localized operations.
“What is the best type of oil to use in my vacuum pump?” is a common question for sure, and one that may often yield confusing and conflicting answers. The rule of thumb is that it is always best to follow OEM recommendations, but why do they recommend the lubricants that they do? For the purpose of this article, we will focus on some of the general industrial vacuum pump applications and their lubricant choices.
This was a complete supply and demand-side system assessment. The supply-side audit involved shutting off old air compressors and purchasing newer more efficient air compressors and dryers. The demand-side audit involved finding ways to improve the piping and reduce compressed air consumption. Annual plant electric costs for compressed air production, as operating today, are $3,050,625 per year. If the electric costs of $27,811 associated with operating ancillary equipment such as dryers are included the total electric costs for operating the air system are $3,078,436 per year.
This brewery is a relatively large operation with nine production lines plus a keg line. There are five bottle lines and four can lines. Operations in the plant include palletizing de-palletizing, filling, packaging operations, and brewing. Annual plant electric costs for compressed air production, as operating today, are $693,161 per year.  If the electric costs of $43,016 per year associated with operating ancillary equipment such as the blower purge dryers are included, the total electric costs for operating the air system are $736,177 per year.  These estimates are based upon a blended electric rate of $0.06 /kWh.
This food industry factory, located in California, was spending $386,533 annually on energy to operate their compressed air system. This system assessment detailed eleven (11) project areas where yearly energy savings totaling $154,372 could be found with a investment of $289,540. A local utility energy incentive, paying 9 cents/kWh, provided the factory with an incentive award of $159,778. This reduced the investment to $129,762 and provided a simple ROI of ten months on the project.
Machine builders aiming to improve the energy efficiency of their machines tend to focus on using energy media other than pneumatics (typically electro-mechanical or hydraulic) since pneumatics, as traditionally applied, is viewed by some as inefficient due to factors like leakage and over-pressurization (i.e.: supplying a higher pressure in an actuator to accomplish a task which is endemic in practice). But they shouldn't, with its low cost of ownership, pneumatics when properly used remains a viable and many times preferable energy source for a given application.
This factory currently spends $735,757 annually on the electricity required to operate the compressed air system at its plant. The group of projects recommended in the system assessment will reduce these energy costs by an estimated $364,211 (49% of current use). Estimated costs for completing the recommended projects total $435,800. This figure represents a simple payback period of 14.4 months.
A recent comparative vacuum technology study performed by Dr. Kingman Yee, as part of a Chrysler Summer Intern Professors Program, found that air consumption could be reduced by 98% when equipping a robot’s end-of-arm tooling with COAXÆ technology and a Vacustat™ check valve.
Blower & Vacuum Best Practices Magazine spoke with Mr. Ed McGovern (VP Sales & Business Development) of PIAB North America.