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Aluminum Piping to the Rescue!

Posted on Mon, 1 Jun 2015

                                                                                                                                    

     “Very, very old,” were the words used by the maintenance manager to describe their air compressor room.  This was bad and not so bad at the same time, the system had lasted for many years, but it still had numerous problems.   

     The plant air system was suffering from excessive pressure drops, large amounts of condensation in the system, oil vapor, and internal rust. The piping in the compressor room was causing an unbelievable 67 PSIG pressure drop.  The piping layout in the compressor room was the main factor in the system’s issues.  An excessive number of elbows and short piping runs were part of the high-pressure drop. 

     The piping was going into the top of each air receiver and then out of the bottom, which accentuated the amount of water in the system, which lead to a buildup of rust inside the pipe. (as you can see in the picture to the right). For the plant to reach its expansion goals and satisfy its compressed air demand, the entire piping system needed to be upgraded.

 

The scope of the project read;

“The Scope of the Compressor Room Project is to replace the existing compressors in the plant with a variable speed drive and a load/ unload compressor to increase the plant’s production and save energy in the process.”

 

     Replacing the compressor without addressing the piping issues would not address the actual problem with the system.  The project was staying grounded due to the excessive cost of making the piping changes.  Estimates for replacing the black steel pipe were all in the neighborhood of sixty to seventy thousand dollars.  

     The solution was Aluminum piping!  The pipe is polished aluminum, which has a low friction factor with seamless connections for very low-pressure drops.  This aluminum piping is also resistant to corrosion, so the customer will not have to worry about build up in the pipes like they had before. Compared to welded steel pipe the lower pressure drops and larger inner diameters that result in higher system efficiency.  While offering a better overall solution, an aluminum piping system resulted in a lower installed cost with a significant portion of savings in the cost of labor required to install the system.  Aluminum pipe does not require any heavy machinery to cut, lift, or thread the pipe.  The pipe is easy to cut to length, and the polymer or aluminum fittings ensure a perfect alignment with a very low leak rate. 

     AirNet Aluminum Pipe became the solution to reconstruct the compressor room, and allowed the plant to start working on future expansion plans.  The low friction drop of the aluminum piping allowed the compressor room to be re-piped using four-inch aluminum, as opposed to six-inch steel pipe.  Because the cost of the four-inch aluminum piping was significantly lower than the six-inch steel pipe, funds were available to allow the plant to also purchase a new air dryer.  

 

   A result of re-piping in the compressor room with AirNet piping was that the company was able to replace all the existing compressors with one new compressor.

 

“The energy study was based on the present system.  The study is based on the kW and CFM used on hours of operation; 6000 hours of workdays, 2400 hours on the weekend, totaling 8400 total hours.  The present air demand is a total of 1,024 cfm. 

The present system’s annual energy cost is $164,784.96.

The energy evaluation showed a savings of $38,613.00 with the new AirNet piping systems resulting in an annual energy cost of $126,172.00.”

 

     The other factor that using AirNet on the project provided was a shorter completion time.  The plant was able to re-pipe the compressor room during a planned seven day shut down, due to the speed and easy installation.  The entire re-piping project for the compressor room took only five days, with the result being clean, dry compressed air, at a consistent and acceptable pressure for the production line.  With protection against future pipe build up

 

Barry Morgan

Arkansas Industrial Machinery Sales Rep