NEWS: Environmental Goals

The increase in the cost of electricity coupled with a drive towards a lower carbon footprint means that attention is increasingly turning to improving energy usage in industry and manufacturing.

Compressed air systems feature extensively throughout industry, “with at least 80% of industrial applications using compressed air in one or more of their processes”, according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial strategy.


The environmental goals for air compressor usage in the UK revolve around reducing energy consumption, minimising greenhouse gas emissions, and improving efficiency both in air compressor system design and in the industrial processes they power. Air compressor manufacturers are focusing more and more resource on designing more energy-efficient systems.

Over an air compressor’s lifetime, the bulk of spend is on energy itself, up to 70%, therefore reducing air loss and improving efficiency will yield significant environmental and financial rewards to help businesses move towards achieving UK Government targets.


The first step is to ensure that an existing system is running at its most efficient, that the output is suited to the end use e.g. that the air compressor powering the service or application is neither under or over-powered, and that power is not being lost through air leakage.

To support this initiative and help businesses to reach UK environmental responsibilities and goals, ACL offers three levels of health checks and energy audits for compressed air installations:



If you want to know quickly if your compressed air system is inefficient, non-compliant or losing money? ACL offers a FREE aircheck during which one of our engineers will make a visual inspection of your entire compressed air system.

compressor energy audit


ACL Engineering can carry out a FREE Energy Audit for your compressed air system using data logging to evaluate if your existing system is working to maximum potential.

digital air leak check


ACL offers the latest digital technology for the accurate deduction of air leaks leads to a reduction in energy consumption and costs, as well as minimising CO2 emissions.


Once an evaluation has been made through the audit process, an air compressor system can be improved by:

  • Ensuring your system, especially an older set up is airtight can save up to 20% in lost compressed air – the biggest source of energy wastage is via air leaks.
  • Maintenance – servicing and installing new parts is paramount to ensure everything is working mechanically to the optimum.
  • By managing the flow and pressure to an optimum level to reduce energy usage – the pressure settings of the compressor should be adjusted until the lowest pressure can be reached and the pressure band reduced without affecting the applications.
  • By reducing unload running hours – air usage generally fluctuates throughout the day. Establishing patterns of usage and utilising a compressor controller means that you can switch off compressors outside of working hours.
  • Waste heat recovery – the amount of electrical energy that can be recovered is between 70 – 94%, which could be used to heat water for example.
  • Ensuring the correct size of compressor is installed – when purchasing a compressor it is important to consider the lowest total lifecycle cost versus the cost of initial purchase.


Besides the immediate physical adjustments to your air compressor system, another approach is to take advantage of improved management software. A digital controller permits the optimisation of operations to maximise energy savings. It can also be set up to monitor equipment for a proactive approach to maintenance. A controller is particularly effective where multiple compressors are in operation. Central controllers increase the efficiency of the whole air compressor system by actively managing the integrated machines in their most optimum points possible whilst maintaining a stable pressure.

However, sometimes the most cost-effective solution is to install a new system. You can reduce your air compressor energy consumption by switching to a more efficient model.


Today there are new options available such as Variable Speed Drive compressors that adapt to fluctuating demands. VSD’s automatically adjust the compressor’s operating speed to match air production to demand in real time.


The flexibility of the VSD compressors is impressive with tangible energy and cost savings. If reducing your carbon footprint is a high priority, then this is the system you should be aiming for. However, this is not always a financially viable option for every business. To mitigate this,  Atlas Copco have recently introduced a Dual Speed air compressor to help those with smaller budgets to get closer to the ideal. These news systems offer energy saving unmatched by fixed speed compressors.


So, as can be seen, there are many ways and means to move towards a more sustainable use of air compressors within industry and manufacturing. If you’re looking for a new system, then a non-fixed speed compressor such as the VSD or Dual speed will always deliver better economy for the long term. But if that isn’t feasible in the immediate future then regular maintenance and checks should ensure that you are being as diligent as possible. Add in heat recovery and you could well be making positive steps to improve your carbon footprint significantly.


If you’d like to find out more about how ACL Engineering can help you improve sustainability, speak to our team and organise an audit today. Give us a call on 01923 249444.