Electric versus pneumatic actuators

Olsen Engineering UK has revealed that electromechanical actuators are over ten times more energy efficient than pneumatic actuators and over four times more efficient than hydraulic actuators, according to a white paper they have published on their website.
The white paper explains why the energy consumed by an actuator can have a significant impact on the lifetime energy costs of an application and how to specify an actuator correctly, citing research carried out at the University of Kassel in Germany. By means of experiments, energy consumption comparisons showed the possible savings that can be achieved by choosing the right actuator, including the cost of implementing or retrofitting an existing system.
 “The research shows that pneumatic actuators consume 10.3 times more energy than electromechanical actuators, and 4.4 times that of hydraulic actuators,” says Piers Olsen, sales and marketing director for automation at Olsen Engineering UK says. “This does not take into account air leaks, which could add at least another 50% to the energy cost.
Olsen estimates that total air leaks will be in the region of the equivalent of a 6mm diameter hole per km, costing £20,000 a year in wasted energy. Citing another study, in this case the University of Pittsburgh’s 2003 study on continuous automotive welding guns , the company argues that the energy cost of operating a servo-electric actuator was a tenth of the cost of using pneumatic actuation at £470 instead of £4,700 a year, per cylinder.
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