Heat Recovery for Air Compressors

Air compressors are not only one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can use, but they can also be one of the most energy efficient, too.

Even if you aren’t familiar with physics, you will probably have heard of the principle of the conservation of energy: energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed.

Not only are modern air compressors efficient, but almost all the heat energy that could be lost, can be recaptured through heat recovery.

Heat recovery systems can save you money, help the environment, and can even lengthen the life of your air compressor.

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Why Heat Recovery?

When air is compressed, it heats. This means that in an air compressor, most of the energy consumed converts into heat that can then be recovered. Atlas Copco, the award-winning compressor manufacturer, estimates that 70-94% of the energy an air compressor uses can be recovered from this waste heat.

The most obvious benefit of heat recovery is that it can save you money. By using energy that you would otherwise have lost, you can get energy savings and reduce your bills. But you also help the environment because you are reducing emissions for the gas you no longer need to heat the area/water.

Types of heat recovery

There are, broadly, two ways that heat recovery systems work: using the hot air generated in compressed air systems directly or by heating water using a heat exchanger.

Air heat recovery is perhaps the simplest. This can simply take warm air created by the compressor and use that air for other purposes. While the most obvious application might be space heating for your facilities or offices, it can also be used in other processes.

Hot water recovery uses a heat exchanger to warm water for you to use elsewhere. Hot water from heat recovery can reach temperatures of up to 90ºC, more than hot enough for your facility's heating system or hot water taps. You can even use the pre-heated water elsewhere, for example steam generation for further heating.

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The benefits of heat recovery

Significant savings

Using heat recovery is cost-efficient and means you can save money elsewhere, and the amounts saved can be significant. While the exact benefit will depend on your installation and energy use, the return-on-investment of installing heat recovery can be as short as two years.


Environmental benefits

Whether you are simply trying to be greener, or have specific corporate environmental targets to meet, heat recovery can make a dramatic difference. By minimising the energy wasted, you are also helping to minimise your carbon emissions. It’s estimated that air compressor heat recovery would reduce the total energy consumption of UK industry by nearly 2%, that’s the equivalent of more than 1.5 million households' energy use.


Improved efficiency

Heat recovery can also help improve your efficiency. As well adding another function to your already multitasking compressor, by helping to remove excess heat from the compressor itself, you can minimise wear and tear, reducing life cycle costs and extending your compressor’s lifespan.

Importance of Compressed Air Quality & Filters

How to start with heat recovery

Implementing heat recovery technology can be remarkably easy.

With a new compressor

If you are getting a new compressor, or replacing an old one, there’s a good chance that it will come ready for heat recovery, with the compressor’s cooling system and other components ready for connection to begin heat recovery.


With your existing compressor

How heat is recovered will depend on your compressor. If you have an air-cooled compressor, heat recovery is relatively simple, meaning that it can be worthwhile to install a heat recovery system even on small compressors.

Water-cooled systems may need additional components installed, such as pumps and heat exchangers. However, most air compressors can be retrofitted, and the payback time can be surprisingly short.

Start recovering energy from your compressor

Putting it bluntly, although compressed air is vital for many industries, it does not make sense to lose up 94% of the energy costs of producing it.

Heat recovery can be a simple and straightforward way to recover most of the energy used for compression, so that energy can be used elsewhere. Heat recovery can slash your bills and drastically reduce your carbon footprint.

Whether it’s a new compressed air system, or retrofitting your existing air compressor, Anglian Compressors can help. We’ve been providing and installing, servicing and maintaining compressors for almost fifty years, and we simply cannot begin to count how much we have saved our customers by making sure they are getting as much out of their compressor as they can.

Get in touch today, we can help you consider your options, and begin a process that will help you save money, and the planet.

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