Integrating various energy saving initiatives on compressed air systems of typical South African gold mines
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Electrical energy is commonly used in households and in industry - demand continues to rise due to economic and population growth. This requires that energy suppliers must increase their supply capacity. The result is that end–user energy costs continue to increase, therefore a growing need exists to reduce electrical energy demand in South Africa and internationally. Households account for the majority of electrical energy customers, but they only consume a fraction of the total energy supplied. The industrial sector and mines combined consume approximately 42% of the total electrical energy produced. Approximately 10% of this energy goes into compressed air production. This study focuses on methods of reducing the requirement of compressed air in industry so that the demand for electrical energy can be reduced. Many studies have focused on specific methods of reducing energy usage associated with compressed air production. These methods are categorised into methods of reducing compressed air requirements and methods of increasing compressed air supply efficiency. This study aims to combine these efforts into a single optimised solution. Although this study includes industry in general, the central focus is on the South African mining industry. Two different mining sites are considered and analysed as case studies. Methods of reducing energy required to produce compressed air were applied to each case study. Case Study 1 only allowed limited control of the compressed air system. In Case Study 2 integrated control was realised. Energy usage of compressors was reduced by 18.9% and 42.9% respectively. Results show that system savings can be doubled by combining different methods of reducing energy usage of compressed air. This, however, requires continuous monitoring and control of the air network at each section supplied with compressed air. The study is limited to achieving savings by changing the air system. Additional savings can be achieved by training personnel, altering schedules of production activities and implementing a system designed to locate air leaks.
- Engineering