By: Jesus Esparza
February 07, 2018
Compressed air is a very versatile but expensive medium of transferring energy throughout a production plant. A study by Carbon Trust showed that over the life of a compressor, the energy costs far outweigh the capital and maintenance costs. As little as 10% of the energy used to run the compressor is turned into usable work at the point of use.
A compressor produces roughly 4 CFM @100 PSI per HP. Under standard conditions, the cost to run a 90% efficient compressor to produce 1 CFM @100 PSI for 250 days at $0.07/kWh is $87. Under full load, this compressor will cost $34,800 to run per year.
A traditional rotary vane air motor and gear reduced agitator uses a constant high volume of compressed air. Depending on the distance, diameter, and integrity of the air delivery system, a single traditional ¼ HP agitator may cost ~$700-2000 per annum.
Compressor costs over a ten-year life of an air compressor.
Piston-Style air motors can significantly reduce the amount of compressed air required for paint agitation. Radial piston pumps are characterized by the following qualities that make it especially suited for this application: high efficiency, high pressure, low noise, high load at low speed, and high reliability. Radial piston air motors consume far less air than equivalent rotary vane air motors—as low as 2 CFM @50 PSI to achieve 50 RPM under load. They require no gear reduction for paint agitation and can be purchased with a dual mode regulator to control air pressure and flow.
Piston-style agitator on 55 gallon drum
Piston-style pneumatic agitators cost about 4-5 times more than equivalent rotary vane agitators; however, they can often attain an ROI breakeven point in less than two years based on energy savings alone. Radial piston air motors provide much higher torque at lower levels of air consumption. They require less maintenance than their traditional counterparts. Switching to piston-style air motors lightens the load on the plant compressor substantially and results in additional savings. The video below explains the operation of a radial piston motor.