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Compressed air limiter could cut £100m bill

01 September, 2002

Compressed air limiter could cut £100m bill

A British pneumatics specialist has launched a device which, it claims, can cut compressed air energy costs by up to 80%. London-based ON Beck`s Airminder is designed to reduce the estimated 30% of compressed air that goes to waste in the UK, adding about £100m a year to the nation`s electricity bills.

The device limits the wastage of compressed air by "intelligent" supply-on-demand control at the point of use. A sensor detects when there is intermittent demand for compressed air, or when a conveyor line is stationary or there are gaps between objects on the line.

When it detects these conditions, the compressed air supply is cut off for a pre-determined time. When it senses movement again, the supply is restored immediately.

Other claimed benefits include reduced noise levels and, in some installations, avoiding the need to acquire a larger compressor to deal with demand.

Managing director Clifford Beck believes that it is a "curious anomaly" that while industry is trying to cut direct electricity costs, it does not seem to be addressing the problem of compressed air wastage. "This is partly because people think of air as something that comes free," he argues. "But compressed air is produced at two to three times the running cost of electricity.

"It is madness these days that companies are throwing away so much of the compressed air they produce," he adds.

The savings generated by Airminder will depend on the application but could range from 10-80%, according to Beck. Initial installations include systems for the soft drinks and brewing industries. Fullers Brewery in London is using the device to control both compressed air and water flow on a beer-bottle rinsing and drying conveyor line.

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