Ultrasonic Leak Detection

Detecting compressed air leaks: a double-edged issue

Detecting leaks

in compressed air systems

Environmental issue

For each one of us and future generations

Energy is, and will increasingly become, an important, priority issue because of its price, because supplies are running out and because of the constant fight against climate change etc. In such conditions, why not eliminate completely worthless consumption caused by leaks from compressed air systems? Isn’t it time to limit the damage? Especially in view of the fact that the pledges made under the Kyoto Protocol, ratified in February 2005, require us to reduce toxic emissions into the atmosphere by better energy efficiency management.

Economic issue

For every business

Compressed air leaks are very costly in terms of excess consumption of energy. Contrary to what you might think, managing energy better and/ or investing in energy efficiency can be very profitable. More generally, admittedly, measures aimed at protecting the environment will incur some costs. In this case, on the other hand, this is balanced out by the benefits. The detection of leaks in compressed air systems, a measure that is within the grasp of any company, is an important step in its commitment to an active energy management policy.

Is it because it’s an environmental issue that so few business managers feel worried about the topic? Then let’s deal with this issue based on the substantial savings that can be made by eliminating this tremendous waste.

A proactive, ultrasonic leak detection campaign quantifying the amount of compressed air lost can be used to easily calculate the amount of benefit generated. The figures then speak for themselves and will convince you to implement a better energy efficiency management programme.

Pay for the air you use, not for leaks!

Compressed air is the most used energy fluid in industry but also the most expensive. Based on 5 years’ consumption at a rate of 6,000 production hours a year, it is generally accepted that compressed air production costs are divided into

75 % for the provision of energy,

13 % investment

and 12% maintenance costs.

Compressed air production takes 2nd or 3rd place in a company’s energy costs. It is therefore natural to take its improvement potential into consideration.

In some companies, rather than thinking about these improvements, they bring in a compressor to compensate for these losses. This is not an unusual situation…

Leaks may represent

30 – 40 % of the amount consumed.

You must realise that leaks may occur anywhere in the network; online connections, bleed valves, filters, pressure regulators, slide gates, quick release connections, rubber pipes etc. And there are still lots more places in spots that are the most hidden as well as in the most inaccessible places. A real proactive programme to seek out this type of waste is more than vital to reduce the loss to a reasonable amount:

Reducing compressed air losses

to 5 % of the amount consumed.

It’s all the more true that if losses prevent minimum service pressure being reached, you very often tend to increase pressure. Which increases the percentage of losses. Taking into account the number of components in any compressed air system, it is easy to imagine the potential for leaks and the financial benefits of a detection campaign. This can be calculated very quickly using the cost of the smallest leaks and by simple multiplication:

Annual costs of energy caused by an undetected leak*

A single 1mm leak at 6 bar is already costing you 43,200 Kes per year

At 12 bars, it will cost you 144,000 Kes per year.


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