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# Compressed Air Systems I: An Introduction

Course Description

Compressed air is widely used throughout industry. It is sometimes called the fourth utility, after
electricity, gas and water. From mining, lumber and paper mills, petroleum, chemical, textile and glass
production to small manufacturing plants and hotels, compressed air provides critical services and can
often represent the majority of the facility energy costs. Since many facilities cannot function without
compressed air, reliability is paramount, but given that sound operating practices can reduce energy
consumption by 20% to 50%, efficiency is high on the agenda.

This is the first in a series of compressed air system courses offered by Energy University. In this course,
we will look at the relative inefficiency of compressed air and examine the components of a compressed
air system.

Course Outline

Course Objectives

Objectives
Explain basic compressed air terms and concepts
Describe the relative inefficiency of compressed air as a power source
Define the supply and demand sides of a compressed air system and
Identify the components of a compressed air system and explain what they do

## Course Content or Material

1) Introduction
2) Supply & Demand
a. Divided into a supply side and a demand side
3) Compressed Air Pros & Cons
4) Compressed Air Inefficiency Examples
a. Metric Unit Example
b. US Customary Unit Example
5) Compressed Air Systems Optimization
a. The efficiency of compressed air systems typically receives little attention
i. Systems are not well understood by plant operations staff
ii. Modifying a system is perceived as a risk to production
iii. Vendors compete in a market where equipment is typically sold on a lowest first
bid, without regard for the cost of operation
i. Reduced costs
ii. Reduced maintenance
iii. Less downtime
iv. Increased production
v. Improved product quality
6) Equipment Descriptions

a. Fan
b. Blower
c. Compressor
7) Pressure Terminology
a. Pressure
b. Absolute Pressure
c. Gauge Pressure
8) Standard Volume of Air
a. Metric
b. US Customary
9) Volume Flow
a. Inlet flow
b. Actual flow
d. Standard flow
e. Capacity
10) Operating cost
a. Proportional to volume
b. Proportional to pressure ratio
11) Dew Point
a. The temperature at which condensation begins to occur
12) Compressed Air Requirements
a. Cleanliness
b. Dryness
c. Oil content
13) Compressed Air System Components
a. Interactive element
14) Summary
a. Basic compressed air terms and concepts;
b. Compressed air as a source of power is relatively inefficient. However, it can be very
useful and necessary at times;
c. Compressed air systems are normally broken down into supply and demand side
components;
d. You should now be able to identify basic components of a compressed air system and
explain what they do