Compressed Air Applications For Industry’s 4th Utility
Mention utilities and electricity, natural gas and water quickly come to mind. But in industry, compressed air is often referred to as the fourth utility that has many energy savings and environmental benefits. Compressed air is the energy of choice to power a great variety of applications and processes. Today’s businesses are finding that compressed air is a true source for innovative solutions and applications. The power of compressed air is used in thousands of applications and is vital to the productivity of industries around the globe.
The manufacture of compressors and compressed air system equipment is a large and essential industry that contributes greatly to the economy of all nations. Compressed air provides power for a multitude of manufacturing operations and processes.
Different Types of Compressors
There are many different types of compressors, and their applications are numerous. To help provide a certain perception of the equipment and its applications, we have grouped the types of compressors according to design objectives and differences. The following are the three groups of the different types of compressors that will be covered:
• 80-125 psig air compressors (general plant air or standard air)
• Gas compressors
• Oil and field gas compressors
Some General Uses of Compressed Air
It is difficult to imagine a product or task where compressed air has not been involved at some stage. Let’s review some of the more typical applications. Compressed air can be found in virtually all fields of commerce and industry. It is used in the primary products industries supplying semi-finished raw materials to manufacturing industries and in the manufacture of heavy goods. It is important in the light goods or consumer products industries, as well as in the processing and packaging of consumer goods. Compressed air plays an important part in transportation, building, and construction, and in service operations for maintenance of all industries.
Compressed air is used in virtually every phase of manufacturing. In one medium-sized plant, there may be a hundred different uses of air. Air from the same compressed air system may actuate stamping presses, air wrenches, aerating equipment and pneumatic controls and, at the same time, be part of a chemical or manufacturing process. In addition to the well-known applications for air, individual manufacturers find many special uses tailored in their own techniques.
Compressed air is helping us to cope with some of the problems of our complex society. For example, in the production of food, orchards are sprayed by means of compressed air. Fish farming, with trout, salmon, tilapia and other fish already supplied in considerable quantity, depends on compressors to aerate the pools to keep the water fresh and keep the fish healthy. In water supplies, deep reservoirs and lakes are similarly aerated to improve quality.
In underwater geological exploration for minerals and oil, a sudden release of compressed air produces acoustic waves by which the sea bottom is probed without the damage to marine life which was the result when explosive charges were used.
In sewage-treatment plants, large volumes of air are used to speed the purification of the water so that it may be discharged directly back into streams where fish may live.
(See Figure 1.7)
CAGI, Compressed Air & Gas Handbook n Seventh Edition,November.2016