Inadequate compressed air distribution systems will lead to high energy bills, low productivity and poor air tool performance. Three demands are placed on a compressed air distribution system: A low pressure drop between the compressor and point of consumption, a minimum of leakage from the distribution piping and efficient condensate separation if a compressed air dryer is not installed.
The starting point when designing and dimensioning a compressed air network is an equipment list that details all compressed air consumers, and a diagram indicating their individual locations.
The consumers are grouped in logical units and are supplied by the same distribution pipe. The distribution pipe is, in turn, supplied by risers from the compressor plant. A larger compressed air network can be divided into four main parts:
- Distribution pipes
- Service pipes
- Compressed air fittings
The risers transport the compressed air from the compressor plant to the consumption area.
Distribution pipes split the air across the distribution area. Service pipes route the air from the distribution pipes to the workplaces.
The pressure obtained immediately after the compressor can generally never be fully utilized because the distribution of compressed air generates some pressure losses, primarily as friction losses in the pipes. In addition, throttling effects and changes in the direction of flow occur in valves and pipe bends. Losses, which are converted to heat, result in pressure drops.
The required pipe lengths for the different parts of the network (risers, distribution and service pipes) are determined. A scale drawing of the probable network plan is a suitable basis for this. The length of the pipe is corrected through the addition of equivalent pipe lengths for valves, pipe bends, unions etc.
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