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Energy conservation is an important consideration today in a world where the competition for energy sources is intensified by rising demand. But making best use of fuel isn't new, and the Vulcanaire Supertherm was Vulcan's contribution to energy savings.

The Supertherm was developed in conjunction with Horn Construction in Merrick, NY, and first demonstrated in late 1964. The Supertherm was simple in concept. As described in the unit's field service manual (which has more information on the unit:)

The installation of the VULCANAIRE SUPERTHERM is intended to raise the volume of air produced by compressor through the expansion of air by the use of heat. To achieve this; exhaust gases, which are normally wasted, are diverted through the use of a diverter valve and transferred through a heat exchanger through which also passes air from the receiver on the compressor. The temperature of the air is maintained within certain limits by the use of an automatic control device to produce the greater volume of air to be used on equipment at an elevated temperature.

The objective for the contractor was to use a smaller compressor to power the same size of pile hammer.

Below: Vulcanaire Supertherm mounted on top of a LeRoi 1200 CFM compressor at the time of its original demonstration.

The production of the unit was performed at the Special Products Division in West Palm Beach, as the Chattanooga facility lacked the fabrication capabilities necessary to produce the unit.

Below: a Supertherm (yellow) being installed on top of a Gardner-Denver compressor in the mid-1970's.

Although the unit worked as intended and performed well, the simple concept didn't translate into a simple design. With numerous parts and complex fabrication and assembly, the unit was uneconomical to produce and difficult to install. Air compressor manufacturers learned how to use hot exhaust gases in other ways to improve the energy efficiency of their products.

By the late 1970's, even with the elevated energy prices of the era, production of the Vulcanaire Supertherm had gone cold.

Driven Pile Manual Volume 1a
Driven Pile Manual 1b
Driven Pile Manual 2