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Most air compressors are typically driven by an electric motor. However, a natural gas-fired engine can also be used to drive an air compressor. The gas system produces reliable, high quality air at a lower price. When compared to traditional constant speed electric motors, the variable speed engine is inherently better suited to deal with most fluctuation air compression needs.

What are the Best Applications for Gas Engine Air Compressors?

Gas-fired air compression has many practical industrial applications. Examples of excellent candidates for gas units are industries which process food, chemicals, plastics or fabricated metals. These facilities, and others which use compressed air for packaging, stamping, assembling, conveying or any other major application, may realize significant cost savings.

What are the Major Benefits of Gas-Fired Air Compression?

The four major benefits of using gas engines to produce compressed air are:

Lower Energy Cost

With the current cost of electricity, natural gas engines can save up to 50% of air compression costs, including maintenance.

Higher Efficiency at Part Load

Studies show that industrial air compressors typically operate at 60-70% capacity. Electric compressors lose efficiency in this range. However, gas engines are built to handle these part load conditions, and continue to operate at their highest efficiency even when running as low as 60% full load.

Heat Recovery

Low-grade waste heat recovered from the engine cooling jacket as well as from exhaust gases can be used in other applications such as preheating boiler make-up water or space heating. This recycled heat can reduce energy costs even further.

Environmental Benefits

Clean-burning natural gas can help many facilities achieve environmental compliance objectives.

What are the Potential Cost Savings with Natural Gas?

Since 1991 there have been nearly 200 installations of natural gas engine-driven air compression systems in the United States. Facilities are experiencing cost savings of up to 50% per year and paybacks on their investments within two to four years.

What Equipment is Currently Available?

There is a full line of packaged gas engine air compression systems available from several manufacturers, such as Ingersol-Rand, Dearing, Quincy and LeRoi. Engines range in power from 50 to 500 horsepower (hp). The systems come pre-packaged on a skid and are easily installed by qualified personnel.

Are there Any Local Installations?

In Angola, New York, Flexovit USA, Inc. has installed two 150 horsepower gas engine-driven air compressors for its production facility. Natural gas engine-driven air compressors lower costs by eliminating a portion of the electric load as well as costly demand charges.

What’s the Next Step?

National Fuel’s technical staff can conduct a free pre-qualifying analysis of your facility to help determine the benefits of natural gas engine-driven air compression for your business.

For more information about gas air compression, contact our Energy Services Department at 1-800-343-4568.


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