Compressed Air: A Quick Guide

Since 1993, Air Energy has been supplying our clients with a premium range of specialised compressed air equipment, and aluminium, HDPE or stainless-steel pipes Australia wide. Despite its ubiquity as an energy source in domestic and industrial settings, most people know little about compressed air; how it works, its practical applications, and how it compares to other energy sources for cost and efficiency.

This quick guide is intended to answer some of those questions and give you a basic understanding of compressed air.

What is Compressed Air and How Does it Work?

Compressed air is created when air is forced into a pressure vessel using an electrically or diesel powered air compressor and is stored at a pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. The compressed air is then stored until it is needed and is released as pneumatic energy.

What are the Practical Applications of Compressed Air?

When released at the point of use, compressed air is converted into pneumatic energy that can be used as a power source for any number of mechanisms. Spray painting and various forms of sand blasting use compressed air, and pneumatic energy is an especially popular choice in automated industrial processes, where it can be used to move items through multiple production processes. It is well suited to mechanisms that perform repetitive actions at great force, such as industrial drills and jackhammers and pneumatic tools are much lighter than electric ones, saving OH&S issues and operator fatigue. Pneumatic energy is also used in car and truck braking systems.

What Are the Benefits of Compressed Air?

One of the main benefits of using compressed air system is that, unlike other energy sources such as oil, air itself cannot be depleted, as a limitless amount exists in our atmosphere.

The machinery used in pneumatic systems is also highly durable when compared with other systems. The absence of corrosive elements such as oil paired with the smooth, low impact movements characteristic of pneumatic systems means they are not subject to the same wear and tear. This means lower maintenance costs and remarkable longevity.

Finally, pressurised air can be released back into the atmosphere with no negative consequences. The benefits here are two-fold: firstly, this makes compressed air one of the most environmentally friendly sources of energy; and secondly, it avoids the exorbitant costs involved in the processing and disposal of waste matter associated with other energy sources.

How Efficient/Expensive is Compressed Air?

As explained in the previous section, compressed air has a number of advantages over other energy sources when it comes to cost, but this doesn’t mean that it will be the cheapest option for every situation. Electricity is required to power the machinery that produces compressed air; the greater the pressure and the volume of air required, the more electricity will be needed, and therefore the greater the cost.

However, many processes do not require air to be compressed to the maximum pressure the compressor is capable of producing. Knowing the appropriate volume and pressure required for a given task can greatly reduce the costs of running a compressed air system.

Do Compressed Air Systems Leak?

Even a small hole in the compressed air system can lead to leakage, and those leaks can result in significant losses. Finding and repairing the source of a leak can be time-consuming but very cost effective, and it is for this reason that we suggest a proactive approach to avoiding leakage rather than a reactive one.

Investing in high quality system components and using the advice of specialists when creating and maintaining your compressed air system is the best way to avoid unnecessary costs associated with leakage.

For expert advice on compressed air systems and to find out more about our range of world-class compressed air equipment and pipework, contact us here.