Ensuring the sustainability of the planet begins with immediate and urgent steps by business and industry to increase environmental awareness. Rand-Air, part of the Atlas Copco Group, has been involved in a number of initiatives that allow the company not only to reduce its own carbon footprint, but also to provide its customers with the tools to apply energy-efficient technology. “Our Industrial Rental Programme (IPR) allows factories and general industry to outsource the responsibility for the supply of air and power to Rand-Air.
In addition to handling the maintenance requirements of all equipment rented by customers, Rand-Air will also devise a product selection programme aimed at accomplishing environmental compliance on site,” says Byrone Thorne, Marketing Manager for Rand-Air.
“Energy savings in compressed air systems are very important as energy consumption typically represents over 80% of a compressor’s lifecycle cost. Compressed air systems account for about 10% of industrial electricity consumption on average,” he notes. “For this reason, Atlas Copco has been innovating energy-efficient compressed air solutions for many years.” Byrone adds. An example is the Atlas Copco ZR series of water-cooled oil-free air compressors, with built-in energy recovery systems, which was the first in the world to be TÜV certified for ‘net zero energy consumption’ at specific design conditions. Kim Coetzee, Sales Manager at Rand-Air, explains: “In extensive trials on the compressors, it was proved that 100% of the electrical power input could be recovered in the form of hot water. With these ‘Carbon Zero’ compressors, industries that typically use a great deal of hot water and steam such as food and beverage, dairies, pulp and paper, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and petrochemicals, power plants, clean rooms and textiles can dramatically cut down on their energy consumption.”
Another product identified by Rand-Air as contributing to energy efficiency on site is the variable speed drive compressor. “Variable speed drive compressors consume up to 35% less energy than similar fixed speed compressors. This is achieved by varying their output on a continual and automatic basis in order to precisely match the demand for air,” Byrone explains. The converter in the GA VSD system performs a ‘soft’ start and stop, automatically controlling both acceleration and deceleration levels, eliminating current peaks of traditional star delta or direct on line (DOL) starters. The power factor of a GA VSD compressor remains very high throughout the complete speed range, while for standard compressors it falls to typically 0.53 in no-load running conditions. Atlas Copco’s patented Elektronikon system continuously and accurately monitors the status of the compressor and automatically regulates it for economic and efficient operation. In addition, the Elektronikon system will shut the compressor down automatically should it detect a fault in its vital functions.
“As government implements rebates for those companies prepared to introduce energy reduction processes, there will be a greater demand for technology that assists in the process. The variable speed drive compressor provides Rand-Air’s IPR customers with a cost-effective and proven product that will result in decreased power costs and increased environmental compliance,” says Kim. “By focusing on meeting the need of our customers to become more energy aware, Rand-Air has been able to introduce alternatives to traditional methods of operating. By implementing the use of compressed air at the point of source, many of our mining customers have been able to reduce or even eliminate the use of the more power-hungry centrifuges,” Kim adds. “Rand-Air will continue to provide products for the market that mitigate against the increasing shortage in power by reacting to varying energy demands. We are currently investigating the introduction of the M-Box, which measures the peaks and troughs of energy consumption. All derived information can be utilised to suggest a prudent choice of products chosen for their energy efficiency, thus further enhancing our ability to customise environmentally-friendly solutions for our customers,” Byrone concludes.