Dedicated process plant compressors save energy

By HPR Joubert, G Bolt, JF van Rensburg, North-West University and consultants to TEMM International and HVAC International


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Published in:

Electricity+Control, April 2013 (pages 20 – 24)



Most large gold mines in South Africa have centralised compressor houses which supply compressed air for a pipe network system. The operational pneumatic equipment found on these sites usually requires different air flows and pressures. These multiple and varied requirements must be considered when an energy savings project is to be implemented.

Very often a mine compressed air system is operating at a higher pressure than required for several reasons. One of these is the limitations set by the process plants connected to the compressed air network. The pneumatic equipment of these plants requires high pressure and low air flow. To supply this high pressure to the process plant the entire compressed air ring must supply air at a higher pressure.

The solution to this problem would be operating a dedicated compressor for the individual components requiring high pressure air. This will allow the plant to be isolated from the compressed air network. The network pressure can then be reduced while the process plant is supplied with the high pressure it requires.


Take note

  • Compressors consume a large percentage of total energy in some industries.
  • Very often, compressed air systems operate at far higher pressure than needed by certain equipment.
  • A case can be made to install dedicated compressors at various parts of the process.