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How to Recover Heat from Air Compression

Although air compressors are associated with many advantages, perhaps foremost among these is the fact that heat expelled during the compression process can be recaptured and reused. This sustainable practice is not only good for the environment but can also markedly reduce energy expenses in the long run.

So just how can you ensure that your compressor is running as efficiently as possible?

Reusable Capacity

The percentage of recoverable energy depends on the air compressor’s specific operating conditions. For instance, energy can be lost through system inefficiencies and excessive varnish.

The type of air compressor is also a significant factor in determining how much heat can be recovered from any given system. For instance, oil-free compressors can recover more heat due to the fact that they operate at a considerably higher temperature compared to their counterparts, while oil-lubricated units can often only recover as little as 70% of the heat they produce due to the fact that oil is actually used as a coolant in the compression process.

90-95% of energy input is typically recoverable in any given system. However, when optimal conditions are present, recovering more than 95% is possible.

The Basics

Aside from eliminating efficiencies from the system, the best way to increase the percentage of recoverable heat is to install an energy recovery system. An energy recovery system, in its simplest form, uses the expended heat to produce hot water. To be more specific, compressors fitted with energy recovery technology feature a modified cooling water circuit that ensures the recovery of the largest possible amount of energy at the highest possible temperature.

The water that eventually leaves a compressor with an energy recovery system installed is extremely hot, however, the temperature of this water can be regulated to meet specific requirements. Most energy recovery systems also come with control units that help to ensure that the compressor is afforded maximum protection in the energy recovery process.

Although an energy recovery system may marginally impact on the compressor’s overall performance, the benefit of the energy saved has been mathematically shown to outweigh any loss in performance.

Ultimately, recovering heat from air compression is not only a great way to reduce a business’s environmental impact, but will also reduce unnecessary energy expenses and save your business money in the long run.

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