Reducing Costs with Nitrogen Generators

By Robert Glover

Parker Hannifin FNS Division

There are typically two ways to increase profit. First,
you can increase your price. The second is to reduce your cost.

Increasing your price is necessary at times but comes with it some inherent potential of lost business to competition or uncomfortable
conversations with your best customers. Reducing cost is a great option, when it’s available. Your suppliers aren’t eager to reduce their profit so getting price concessions isn’t easy.  That is, unless you could change the rules of the game and produce what others would sell you at a premium.

High pressure cylinder rental can be expensive and difficult to mange.

If a supply of nitrogen is in your cost profile, then you may be able to do just that with the simple addition of a nitrogen generator. A nitrogen generator simply uses a supply of compressed air and, through time tested and simple technology separates out the N2 you need.

Is a nitrogen generator right for you?

It’s common for a gas company to charge their customers per 100 cubic feet of nitrogen delivered. The price for each 100 cubic feet of gas is usually between 35 cents and 60 or 70 cents but can be more than $1.00 or $2.00 depending on the delivery method. The operational cost to produce your
own nitrogen is typically between 12 cents and 18 cents. The majority of this figure is made up of the electrical cost to run the compressed air system so will vary with your price per kw/h.

Having your own Nitrogen Generation System gives you complete control over your purity, meeting your demand and your costs.

It’s this difference (20 cents or more per 100 cubic feet of N2 used) that pays back the capitol and, eventually, provides for the
savings mentioned above. The more consistently you use your nitrogen supply the faster the payback and better the long term savings. Sites using nitrogen 40 hours a week will usually see a 2 to 3 year payback on the capitol while those using it 24/7/365 can see a 6 to 8 month return on their investment. A well-made generator will not require a major overhaul for 10 to 15 years. There are several specifics to each site which will increase or decrease the speed of ROI. These specifics can be quickly reviewed and discussed with a qualified N2 generator specialist.

The next time you have to choose between reduced profit and a price increase, have a look at your nitrogen bill and then contact Lewis Systems. After a free, initial consultation you’ll know if you can reduce your operating cost and keep your profit in house where it belongs.

Robert Glover is the Market Development Manager for Nitrogen Generation Systems at Parker Hannifin FNS Division.  

Compressed Air System Audit – Features & Benefits

With increasing energy costs and a growing demand to be “greener”, the performance and efficiency of your compressed air systems has never been more important.  Potential energy savings not only reduce the environmental impact of your business, they can also improve your bottom line.  This is why you should seriously consider having a professional compressed air system audit.  An audit of this kind should provide a comprehensive evaluation of your plant’s current operating practice and system performance.  Once you have this data in your hand, the potential benefits for performance gains and energy savings are many.

Having a detailed analysis of your compressed air system will help in identifying improvements that can be made.  Restrictions in your piping due to sizing mistakes or old pipes with rust and scale build up can be a cause of pressure loss.  Reviewing your “peak” usage times can help identify posible changes in your production process to help reduce demand.  An audit will help ensure that your plant has the proper sized storage to prevent excessive compressor cycling and ensuring you meet periods of peak demand.  A complete analysis will also allow your control systems to be reviewed.  Poorly designed control systems can result in too many compressors running or running at at higher pressure than you really need.  Both of these have huge impacts on your energy consumption and cost. An audit can tell you what’s wrong with your system controls and overall design.

Most people don’t realize what the actual cost is to operate their system and how it effects their production process and quality. Once you have a compressed air system audit completed, you will see a comprehensive picture of what the real costs are.  Then can you consider evaluating savings or other potential improvements and changes. You will be able to save money and energy as well as reduce your carbon footprint.  If you would like to find out more about our Air Audit Services, please contact us and we’ll be happy to show you how to get the best out of your compressed air system.

Variable Speed Rotary Screw Compressors

One of the biggest advances lately in the air compressor industry has undoubtedly been the introduction of the variable speed rotary screw compressor.  With increasing demand for energy-efficient products, this technology has become very popular.  Just about every major compressor manufacturer has a variable speed product.  So let’s take a look at some of the benefits of implementing variable speed compressors and some things you should look for in a variable speed compressor.

Variable Speed Compressors can efficiently and reliably handle the varying air demand found in most plant air systems compared to other compressor types.  These compressors utilize variable speed drives to speed up and slow down the motor, matching air supply to air demand as it fluctuates.  At full load in the upper flow range, most compressor types will perform pretty close to each other.  As air-flow decreases, however, VSD compressors begin to stand out against modulating and even variable displacement compressors.  Once your demand drops down to the middle and lower ranges the VSD savings become even greater.  So what you need to look for is an efficient performance CURVE, not just efficiency at a single point.  By curve we are talking about airflow over the entire speed range of the compressor (x axis) plotted against the power required (y axis) to produce the flow.

Some important things to think about when looking at Variable Speed compressors is how they are put together.  The motor, drive and airend should all be matched so that efficiency is high and constant over a broad speed range.  Be wary of manufacturers who simply “adapt” their current products to a variable speed drive and motor.

If a variable speed compressor has so much potential to deliver such a low electrical cost compared to fixed speed compressor why doesn’t everyone just run out and buy one?  Every compressed air system is unique.  Typically, air demand in a plant varies widely throughout the day.  In addition, fluctuations can occur from one shift to another, by the week and even seasonally.  You need someone to evaluate your unique, often complex requirements and recommend a tailored solution.  If done correctly, a Variable Speed Compressor should save you money and maximize your plant’s productivity.  If you have not had one done recently, a compressed air audit of your plant air system should be your first step.  Not only can it help you decide whether a variable speed compressor is right for you, but an air audit is a great way to uncover many ways to improve energy efficiency and cost savings.

The Quantima

The QuantimaThe Quantima is an oil-free centrifugal compressor. The Quantima air compressor has several key technologies that make them the most advanced compressors on the market today.

In this article we are going to focus on the core of the Quantima, the Q-Drive, which is a high-speed electric motor with magnetic bearings. The patented Q-Drive motor incorporates an asynchronous induction design and operates at high speeds to avoid the need for a conventional gearbox. Without a gearbox, you are eliminating costly losses in efficiency and parts that need to be replaced as they wear down. And of course, since there is no gear box, this means the compressor does not require any oil at all. The copper coated, solid steel rotor has the impellers directly coupled to it. This gives the Quantima a single rotating assembly with no mechanical contact. There is a huge gain in efficiency as a result of no gearbox or contact parts. A great example is the Off Load power consumption. The Quantima uses only 2.5% of full load power. No other brand even comes close to that as shown in this chart.

The Active Magnetic Bearings (AMB), are the second part of this unique design. A magnetic bearing is an electro-magnetic bearing which supports a load using magnetic levitation. These bearings levitate the rotor and impellers and permit motion without friction or wear. The bearings maintain the relative position of the rotating assembly (rotor) with respect to the stator. Using position sensors, the AMB controller calculates the appropriate control current to keep the rotor in the desired position and optimize performance. Once again, since there is no mechanical contact in this area, energy savings of up to 25% or more are easily achievable. Another great advantage to this design is that there is no performance degradation over the life of the compressor unlike standard screw technologies with wearing parts.