How To Save Energy by
Using the Right Pneumatic Fitting
In manufacturing there are many opportunities to reduce the unnecessary waste of energy, particularly in those sectors using pneumatic systems. Some of these improvements can be incorporated at the design phase, in which about 25% of all energy losses can potentially be eliminated. Various other measures can account for another quarter of potential energy savings. These measures can include installing variable speed motors on your compressor.
By far the greatest reductions in wasted energy, however, can be achieved by choosing the right pneumatic fittings. Nearly half of all energy lost in a pneumatic system is due to leakage of compressed air, and specialists have found several ways in which systems can be made more energy-efficient. As well as reducing tube lengths and pressure levels, leakage and pressure losses can be substantially reduced by the correct sizing of system components.
Choosing The Right Pneumatic Fitting
Pneumatics connections are the simplest of a system's components, but also the ones which have the most potential for leakage. Knowing how to save energy by using the right pneumatic fitting will help you cut costs from the outset, and ensure that there are no weak links where leakage could occur. It will also continue to pay dividends throughout the life-cycle of the system as you regularly check and maintain its connections.
Choosing the right pneumatic fitting is inevitably complicated by the many different shapes, sizes and types of thread that are produced. Some of them are metric and some imperial, while some have parallel threads and some are tapered. In addition, you must of course fit the male thread to the female connection in order to get a perfect seal. Knowing how to save energy by using the right pneumatic fitting therefore depends on the proper selection of thread type for your connections.
Available Thread Types
The global production of compact or small pneumatic components is usually based on connections with metric port threads, sized in millimetres. Designs for larger components are typically produced in imperial measurements as Whitworth pipe threads, sized in inches and starting at 1/8”. In North America, the measurements are given in accordance with American National Standard Pipe Thread standards, usually referred to as NPT.
Whitworth pipe threads are also called British Standard Pipe (BSP) fittings, and are produced in two different designs:
- BSPP or G-thread fittings are parallel in form and produced in accordance with EN ISO 228-1.
- BSPT or R-thread fittings are tapered in form and produced in accordance with EN 10226.
Specifications for BSP or BSPT fittings are given in thread size plus either G or R. A half-inch thread size would be specified as G½ or R½, a quarter-inch thread as G¼ or R¼, etc.
When both the male and female connections have parallel threads, the thread can only provide holding power, not a foolproof seal. BSPP or G-threads therefore require an appropriate seal to be inserted outside the threaded area, in order to make the connection pressure-tight. BSPT or R-threads are naturally pressure-tight because a seal is made by wedging a tapered male thread into a parallel female connection, in accordance with ISO 7-1.
If you are using a combination of G and R-threaded connections, the following rules apply:
- Male G-threads (BSPP) can only be screwed into BSPP female G-threads.
- Male R-threads (BSPT) can be screwed into either BSPP G-threaded or BSPT R-threaded female connections.
The G-thread is designed with many features that are ideally suited to pneumatic connections, and provide a much better performance than R-threads or NPT. These include sealing o-rings, defined tightening torque, and repeatability on installation.
Advantages of G-Thread Fittings
While there is some compatibility with metric and NPT fittings, you'll save more energy and overall costs using G-thread fittings.
- With a defined tightening torque, there will be no leakage, making it more reliable and reducing energy costs. It's also easier to install, and you save time during the tightening process.
- Sealing a G-thread fitting with an o-ring overcomes any thread irregularities because the seal does not rely solely on thread compression. Again, the result is no leakage and more energy-efficient performance.
- The screw-in depth is always consistent and the fitting can be used multiple times without damaging its sealing potential. Reusing connections reduces waste and saves on overall costs.
- G-thread fittings can also be used to connect with female polymer threads which would probably be destroyed by an R-thread fitting.
Energy prices continue to increase, businesses are under budgetary pressure and our climate is under threat. Energy efficiency has thus become one of today's most pressing concerns. Understanding how to save energy by using the right pneumatic fitting will not only help you reduce costs, but will also make your whole business more energy-efficient and help to protect the environment.
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