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Air vs. Steam Atomization Part 9 – Economics (Atomizing Air vs. Atomizing Steam Production)

Posted on October 13th, 2017 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence


Previous posts discussed incineration, atomization, stack losses and plant air production. From previous discussion, atomizing approximately 210 lb/min of liquid waste would require approximately 70 lb/min of atomization gas, which corresponds to 4200 lb/hr of steam or 933 cfm (70 lb/min / 0.075 lb/ft3) of atomizing air.

The cost to produce 4200 lb/hr of steam with fuel that costs USD 5.00 per 106 BTU is approximately USD 230,000 per year (4200 lb/hr * 8760 hr/yr * 1000 BTU/lb * USD 5.00 / 106 BTU / 0.8 boiler efficiency).

Approximately 46.7 percent of the capacity of the air compressor (933 cfm / 2000 cfm) will be used to produce 933 cfm of atomizing air. This will consume approximately 187 kW of electrical energy at an annual cost of approximately USD 93,500 when the marginal annual cost of electricity is approximately USD 500 per kW.

Therefore, it costs approximately USD 136,500 less (230,000-93,500) to use air instead of steam for atomization. This calculation confirms the original premise that it is less expensive to produce a given mass of compressed air than the same mass of steam.

Interestingly, electrical energy consumption actually increases because the compressor operates more loaded to not only produce plant air but to also produce the required atomization air. However, fuel consumption decreases dramatically by eliminating the need to produce and consume 4200 lb/hr of steam. The net result is a large energy saving.

See previous posts:

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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