Compressed air – a gas, or a combination of gases under greater pressure than the air in the general environment – is used in nearly 70 percent of all U.S. manufacturing facilities for a wide range of uses. It is also very expensive so any system inefficiency or undetected problem can cost a company dearly.

West Virginia University is helping regional businesses learn how to maximize energy use through a series of free live educational events that can also be accessed online through webinars. The first session is dedicated to compressed air systems. Future sessions will address energy-saving measures associated with steam, pumps, and fans.

WVU’s Industries of the Future-WV and the WVU Industrial Assessment Center will present the first of the free training sessions on industrial compressed air systems from 5-6 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 31) at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy on the Evansdale Campus and via the Internet as a special webinar presentation.

There are limited slots available for the online session but plenty of space is available at the live event. Interested persons should contact Kathleen Cullen at to attend or participate in the webinar.

The training, conducted by Bhaskaran Gopalakrishnan, professor and director of the Industrial Assessment Center, is the lead-off event of a series of one-hour overviews that Gopalakrishnan will present covering the U.S. Department of Energy’s Best Practices areas.

Many U.S. manufacturers use compressed air systems to power pneumatic tools, jackhammers and pumps; for pressurizing, atomizing, agitating and mixing applications; for combustion and oxidation processes; and to create aerosol products. The energy needed to operate compressed air systems costs manufacturers approximately $1.5 billion each year.

Compressed air is critical to manufacturing, but the systems are often inefficient in terms of energy usage. According to Gopalakrishnan, between 80 and 90 percent of the electricity used to operate compressed air systems are converted to low-temperature waste heat.

“That kind of waste adds up,” he said. “It could end up costing each individual manufacturer as much as double what they paid to purchase and install their whole system.”
He said that according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, optimization of compressed air systems can provide energy efficiency improvements of 20 to 50 percent.

“Improving the energy efficiency of compressed air systems can earn back the investment quickly,” Gopalakrishnan said. “However, many companies have been slow to address energy efficiency related to compressed air. Only about 20 percent have undertaken energy efficiency improvements. This series of training opportunities beginning with the session on January 31, will help regional manufacturers learn how to take the right steps to maximize their compressed air systems to save energy.”

Training is only part of the work of the WVU Industrial Assessment Center which is one of 26 centers around the country funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to provide no-cost assessments to small and mid-sized manufacturers. A team of students and professors do engineering measurements and audit how each facility utilizes energy and resources. Then, they identify opportunities to save energy, reduce waste, and improve productivity. IAC assessments are confidential, and participating plants incur no obligation to act on any recommendations.

For more information about the Industrial Assessment Center’s energy assessment work, contact Gopalakrishnan at (304) 293-9434 or email him at

Industries of the Future–WV works with companies to assess high priority research needs and develop projects that improve energy efficiency and environmental performance. It was the nation’s first state-level program to help manufacturers create financial savings through energy efficiency and was the model for more than 20 other state IOF programs nationwide. The organization’s goal is to save energy, reduce waste, and improve productivity in the country’s most energy-intensive industries.

For more information about Industries of the Future–WV, contact program coordinator Carl Irwin at (304) 293-7318 or Jeff Herholdt at the WV Division of Energy at (304) 957-2027.



CONTACT: Kathleen Cullen, Industries of the Future-WV program coordinator
304.293.2867, ext. 5426,

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