Variable speed compressors have made a contribution to cutting carbon emissions in the UK equivalent to taking more than 40,000 cars off of the roads over the past year, according to Atlas Copco.

The figure – 42,460 cars’ worth to be precise – relates solely to Atlas Copco variable speed compressors, meaning the actual environmental benefit including those from other manufacturers is likely to be much greater.

It is based on maximum energy savings of 35% when using variable speed drive technology, or VSD, and acknowledges that compressed air accounts for about a tenth of UK industry’s total energy usage.

And the energy savings could be set to rise further, with Atlas Copco’s VSD+ compressors now claiming to deliver as much as a 50% improvement, some 15% better than their predecessors.

Paul Clark, UK business line manager for Atlas Copco Compressors’ industrial air division, said: “The introduction of VSD technology into compressors was a huge breakthrough in 1994 but we didn’t stop there.

“Our commitment to innovation has continued and in the past 12 months alone we have added the VSD+ range, which offers even greater energy efficiency.”