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Energy efficiency and industrial compressors

12 September 2014

Greg Bordiak, technical officer at the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), provides a brief history of the development of Pneurop and details the latest work being undertaken by the association to improve compressed air efficiency at a European level.


Pneurop is the European association of manufacturers of compressors, vacuum pumps, pneumatic tools and allied equipment, represented by their national associations.


The first steps to form Pneurop were taken in 1958 and 1959 by the respective trade associations of France, Germany and in Great Britain through BCAS.  Pneurop was formed in 1960 with Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland as its founding members.


Today, members are from national associations representing more than 200 manufacturers in eight EU Member States, plus Switzerland and Turkey.  The European market turnover for the business represented exceeds €20 billion. 


Pneurop was established to study the development of the compressed air industry and foster its progress.  Its early work was fundamental in producing a glossary of terms, a classification of products and the harmonisation of the different national test rules.


Pioneering work also took place in the production of safety documents, compressed air quality classes, acceptance specifications for vacuum pumps, noise and vibration test procedures.


From the mid-1980s Pneurop, being an EC-recognised ‘sector committee’, has been involved in detailed discussion on draft directives and work on the CEN (European Standards Organisation) harmonised standards mandated from the European Commission. This work continues today.


Following the intensive years of work on directives and harmonised standards, Pneurop has now returned to studying areas such as compressed air contaminants, purity classes and measurement methods, as well as items for submission to ISO.


Pneurop speaks on behalf of its members in European and international forums regarding the harmonisation of technical, normative and legislative developments in the field of compressors, vacuum pumps, pneumatic tools and allied equipment.


The association also supports the overall sustainable energy policy objectives of the European Union within the sphere of its responsibilities. Its member companies actively promote energy efficiency for the benefit of their customers as part of their daily business activity.


New EU Regulation

Energy efficiency is perhaps the key talking point in all industry sectors, with the demand for more output, for less input, putting suppliers under pressure. 


Governments have introduced initiatives to encourage the uptake of energy efficient solutions and the EU has joined in too, with the introduction of an ECO-design directive outlining the general principles that should be adopted to achieve the energy efficient design of equipment. To that end, industry has benefitted from the introduction of an EU Regulation, which introduced energy efficiency targets for electric motors, with compressors, like many other types of industrial machinery, benefitting from the improved energy efficiency of the motor.


Not stopping there, the EU during 2012 identified a number of equipment areas to be targeted for energy efficiency improvements. This has developed into discussions between an EU appointed consultancy and the compressor industry through Pneurop. The discussions are to contribute to a new EU Regulation specifically addressed to improve efficiency ratings for certain compressor categories.


The energy efficiency improvement is focused on the compressor aspect, rather than the electric motor, which is already covered by legislation. The first issue to be addressed is to identify the scope of the Regulation, as compressors are used in a wide range of pressures and flows and have varying technologies and power ratings.


According to the EU timetable, a Regulation is expected in 2015 and so is very much at the forefront of the minds of compressor manufacturers. The scope, if ratified, will cover certain ranges of compressors not exceeding 350kW for compressed air use only at this stage.


The introduction of energy efficient electric motors that enable the same pressure / flow output for less electrical input is to be applauded, and with the introduction of improved energy ratings for compressors after 2015, the user is likely to benefit from this in lower energy bills. 

 
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