Hot Air & Slippery Stuff – 107


Whether it is air, oil, gas, steam or water there is no valid reason for having system leaks. The problem is that people do not understand fittings in the proper way to tighten in seal.

No one allows their home leaking water on the floor, or their propane tanks to leak from their barbecue while cooking over the flame (well maybe once but never again) the minute you talk to industrial or commercial installations there is always that annoying problem of leaks.

This applies to air, oil, gas, steam, water etc. these leaks especially in steam and error are wasting millions of kilowatts of electricity gallons of fuel annually.

In the case study published in the May 2006 issue of “In Motion”” magazine, a pneumatic system of two plants were surveyed using ultrasonic leak detection equipment. In the first, a small plant, which took two hours survey, 27 leaks were discovered. In the second, a much larger plant, which today survey 260 leaks were discovered.

While air is free – (For the time being at least), clean, dry compressed air is not.The power required compress 1 cubic meter (35 sq ft) of air per minute to a pressure of 6 bar (90 PSI) is about 5.2 kW (7 hp).

At an electricity cost of $.10 per kilowatt hour, equates to $.52 per hour in energy costs alone. The wasted energy cost of the 27 leaks discovered in the small plant was an alarming $9,000 per year in the 260 leaks in a large plant, a whopping $90,000 per year.

If these systems were hydraulic, heads would roll. I always wonder why this problem gets a little attention. I guess it’s the old saying: “out of sight out of mind”.

If every air compressor had a “leak meter” which converted system air leaks to a dollar cost and displayed it on a billboard in front of the manager’s office, something would get done about it.