Compressed air piping is a very common form of plumbing. But not all compressed air piping is created equal. Air pipes must be carefully selected to provide the best performance based on anticipated usage, design, and installation considerations. Compressed air systems are used in many applications including residential boilers, fireplaces, medical applications, industrial boilers, oil refineries, desalinization plants, grain elevators, ice cream makers, dryers, domestic kitchen plants, dryer vents, industrial drying booths, paper mills, packaging machines, paper mills, sewage treatment plants, marine and railroad pumping, roofing machines, saltwater facilities, and, of course, oil and gas facilities.
How to Choose Compressed Air Piping Systems
Poorly chosen compressed air systems can dramatically increase energy consumption, reduce production efficiencies, increase equipment failure, increase maintenance costs, and promote equipment failure. For this reason, it is usually believed that the only costs associated with compressed air systems are those associated with poor installation – in other words, poor selection of the system components and poor installation procedures. This belief is largely inaccurate. There are actually several causes of pressure loss in piping and some of these causes can be controlled or reduced by proper selection and installation techniques.
One way to select compressed air piping systems is based on the anticipated volume of the system. The actual volume of the system, including its pressure, should be the basis for selecting a system that will provide the desired performance. Volume can be improved by increasing the diameter of the pipe or increasing the diameter of the compressor or by using a larger diameter steel coil. Other ways to improve the volume of compressed air piping are to make the compressor more efficient, to install it closer to the point of use, to add additional outlets, and to modify the cooling fan motor to better match the size of the equipment. Installing and maintaining efficient compressed air systems has the additional benefit of improving system reliability.