Compressed Air Fail: Valve issues

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Valve problems caused air quality issues

Valve problems caused air quality issues.

A milk processing and packaging facility had two independent compressed air systems that were running inefficient modulating style compressors to produce the air needed to keep the compressed air powered machines running smoothly. With the help of their power utility, they were able to consolidate their two systems into one using a new variable speed drive compressor. This improvement saved 625,000 kWh, resulting in a 62% reduction in operating costs—worth $62,500 per year in savings.

As part of the verification of the savings, a compressed air auditor placed data loggers on the system to monitor pressure and power. When the auditor removed his loggers, he noticed a significant amount of water at a pressure point downstream of the air dryer. Because the facility produces food products, this air quality issue was of high concern. All signs pointed to a problem with the new air dryer.

After some investigation, it was found that the dryer was working correctly—but the compressor did not have a water separator inside the unit (some manufacturers do not provide one) and there was no wet receiver or external separator installed to collect the water that the compressor produced. This was corrected, but the moisture problem still did not go away. Further investigation found that a single three-way valve had been installed on the air dryer to provide both a normal and bypass function with only one valve. Careful testing was done with a dew point meter and the auditor found that, while the air dryer was working fine, this valve had an internal leak caused by damage to the internal seals. It was allowing moist air to bypass the air dryer!

The valve was removed and a standard three-valve bypass arrangement was installed, which fixed the problem.

Learn more about air dryer and measurements in our next Compressed Air Challenge seminar in your area. Visit www.compressedairchallenge.org for more information.

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