23 May, 2022

Ecodesign Directive now set to include low pressure and oil-free compressors

30 October, 2015

By Andy Jones, managing director, Mattei Compressors.

News that the Ecodesign Directive (widely referred to as ErP) preparatory study for compressors has now been widened to include low pressure and oil-free compressors means even more products will potentially be affected, and further delays to the publication of the associated Ecodesign Regulations can be expected.

The Ecodesign preparatory study on compressors began in December 2012. To make it a more manageable exercise, the initial scope of the study was standard air compressors/general industry compressors up to 375kW (Lot 31). The report looked at how much electrical power is being used by these compressors across Europe, and suggested various scenarios to reduce energy consumption.

Though the recommendations of this initial study haven’t yet been finalised, if the suggested route is taken, a significant proportion of the compressors on the market today – as much as 40 per cent – will no longer be legally sellable, meaning huge changes are in store for the compressed air industry.

Widened study

However, before the recommendations can be finalised, the European Commission has recently decided to widen the study to include low pressure and oil-free compressors. This is designed to avoid an update being necessary in the future; these compressors were always going to be covered within the regulations, but at a later date.

This news means several things; more manufacturers are obviously going to be involved and affected, a larger number of compressors are potentially going to need to become more energy efficient, and the introduction of the regulations will be delayed.

With regard to this last point, the size of the task and the time involved should not be underestimated – and we should expect the regulations to be published at a much later date than anticipated.

Analysing the low pressure and oil-free market in the UK alone is going to take a considerable amount of work; a lot of information and market data is required, which unfortunately is not freely available. The European Commission will need to work closely with manufacturers to obtain the level of detail they need to make informed recommendations.

Despite the anticipated delays to the Ecodesign Regulations, manufacturers do need to prepare, as, bearing the suggestions from the initial study in mind, significant R&D is likely to be required.

Efficiency improvements

Mattei’s use of vane technology gives us an advantage, and although we believe all of our current machines are likely to fall within the acceptable limits, we aren’t resting on our laurels and are already well underway with improvements to the efficiency of the compression process.

Mattei’s R&D department in Italy has carried out some very successful trials, and we believe we’ll be able to improve the energy efficiency of a compressed air system to previously unheard of levels within the very near future. Our Maxima Xtreme prototype, for example, offers ultra-high performance and efficiency from as low as 5.2kW/m³/min, thanks to a redesigned compression unit and oil injection system, plus a 1:1 ratio between the low rotational speed of the electric motor and the compression unit (just 1000 rpm).

Mattei is committed to improving the energy efficiency of compressed air systems, and welcomes the requirement for more energy efficient products in line with the forthcoming Ecodesign Directive. Though we can expect delays to the legislation, once introduced it will help to lower energy costs and carbon emissions, and will make the investment in a new compressor even more attractive to end users.


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