Compressed air- the 4th Utility:


Compressed air, also referred to as the "4th Utility" (after electricity, water & steam) is one of the major energy consumption utility in any industry. Various estimates indicate that about 4,000-5,000 MW is consumed nation wide by the compressors and its related accessories & support systems. It is a well-known fact that of the life cycle cost of any compressor, 85-90% is towards energy and only 10-15% towards initial investment & maintenance.


Hence, the design and selection of the right compressor assumes great significance while setting up your air system. It is very important on the part of each one of us using compressed air to understand a simple fact that "Air is free but compressed air is not!"


Compressed air is a key utility in the Textile industry, both the segments of Natural & Man-made textiles. Compressed air is more or less required at every stage of manufacturing particularly large volume of air is required for integrated cotton textile industries having Airjet Looms & as well in the Polyester yarn industries. Compressed air is a very critical requirement in the PFY valued added segment such as Texturing.


Compressed air is one of the most expensive utilities, but more often than not, this fact is not understood. Unlike the other utilities, many users find it difficult to measure their cost per cfm. Primarily, it should be understood that the compressed air consumes 3 - 4 times more power as compared to electrical energy (say for e.g. a pneumatic tool of 1 hp would consume compressed air equivalent to 3 times more power than a 1 hp electric tool). However, compressed air being highly versatile in nature, it makes many industrial operations more effective in terms of high productivity and safety and hence, cannot be replaced


A major opportunity lies here...


  • The US Department of Energy (DOE) has determined that air compressors are one of the largest users of electricity in industry
  • Although at one time the DOE considered electric motors as the largest user of electricity, savings through improved electric motor efficiency are dwarfed by those available through improving the compressed air system design and operation
  • On a very conservative estimate, the average energy savings potential in a compressed air system could easily vary from a minimum of 15% to as high as 30%!
  • This means about 1,000 1,300 MW can be saved annually at the national level; amounting to phenomenal savings of Rs. 1,800 2,000 crores in the energy cost every year!



This makes it an obligation on our part to our Nation and the Society to look at this very critical utility with due amount of respect so as to maintain and run it in the most efficient manner

Which Compressor suits my requirement?

Air compressors are mainly classified in two types based on their construction & operation:


  1. Positive displacement (Reciprocating & Rotary compressors)
  2. Dynamic type (Centrifugal & Axial flow compressors)


Air compressors are also classified in to lubricated & non-lubricated type; the latter delivering oil-free quality air which is again very critical for better productivity and long & trouble-free operation of the downstream system components and point-of-use equipment / tools.