Neil Mehltretter, Kaeser Compressors, Inc.

Trim your compressed air "waste" line, one pound at a time

June 27, 2014
The Department of Energy estimates that as much as 10-15 percent of compressed air is wasted due to artificial demand.

Anyone with a compressed air system is familiar with leaks, the energy and money losses caused by them, and the headaches associated with preventing and fixing them. What many people don’t consider though is artificial demand.

Artificial demand is almost as costly as leaks. As a matter of fact, the Department of Energy estimates that as much as 10-15 percent of compressed air is wasted due to artificial demand. So just what is it?

Artificial demand is simply when you are operating your system at a higher pressure than necessary. Contributing factors include:

  • Intentionally over pressurizing, thinking it will make tools and equipment work better
  • Providing excess pressure in the whole plant for the sake of one or a few users
  • Compensating for pressure loss or leaks
  • Obsolete cascading controls with wide pressure bands in multi-unit systems.

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to save some money in your plant, try this:

Lower your system operating pressure by 1 psi each week until people start complaining. For every 2 psi reduction in system operating pressure, you can save 1 percent in compressor efficiency.

This method only addresses the first contributing factor above, but it is a great start. Take a closer look at your leaks and controls to find more savings. Start with a walk-through assessment or go right for a more detailed compressed air audit.

Have any of you had success with trying this? Let us know by leaving a comment.


Author Bio: Neil Mehltretter has a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Florida. Neil first worked on energy efficiency projects during his time at The University of Florida, and after graduation, he worked in the alternative energy industry before joining Kaeser Compressors, Inc. in 2004. Neil is a Master Certified System Specialist through Kaeser’s Factory Training Program and has completed the Compressed Air Challenge Level 1 and 2 training courses. Neil is also a qualified AIRMaster+ specialist. During his time with Kaeser, he has supported numerous compressed air projects and air audits as well as served as the primary contact for the installation of Kaeser’s master controller, the Sigma Air Manager. Currently Neil manages the design and engineering services for Kaeser, which includes energy improvements as well as compressed air selection.

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