Understanding Your Air Compressor Needs

Hand holding the air compressor nozzel

Air compressors are one of those countless handy inventions that make our lives easier but that we barely pay attention to. They are devices that convert power from pressurized air into potential energy. Basically, this machine forces air into a storage tank where it is then held until it is used. This contained energy has plenty of applications, using the air’s kinetic energy as it is released while the tank is depressurized. Before heading off to your nearest hardware store to purchase a Gardner Denver air compressor, here are some types and uses of air compressors:

Rotary Screw Compressors

Compressors offer a range of utility. One of the types of air compressors available on the market is the rotary screw compressor. This works by filling a void between two helical mated screws with air. When these screws turn, an increase in air pressure will result from the reduction in volume. This kind of compressor injects oil into the bearing and compression area. In rotary screw compressors, the process involved is a continuous sweeping motion, resulting in a little surge of flow, just like with piston compressors. The purpose of this type of compressor is for cooling, lubrication, and reducing any leakage through the creation of a sort of seal.

Piston or Reciprocating Compressors

The most commonly found type on the market, piston or reciprocating compressors offer a range of fractional to even very high levels of horsepower. These positive displacement compressors work through pumping air into an air chamber, which then reduces the volume of the chamber. The process involved in the use of reciprocating compressors is very similar to those of internal combustion engines, but somewhat in reverse. Pistons, cylinders, housing blocks, valves, and crankshafts are the parts commonly involved in this type.

Rotary Sliding Vane Compressors

Just like rotary screw and piston compressors, this type also belongs to the positive displacement category. A rotor, stator, and eight blades comprise its pump. Meanwhile, the rotor is usually arranged in a sort of eccentric manner inside the stator where it forms a crescent-shaped area situated between two ports. Compression takes place when the rotor makes its revolutions. Afterwards, the volume will proceed directly to minimum at the exhaust port, from maximum at the intake port. For lubrication, cooling, and vane-sealing purposes, oil will then be injected into the intake.

Centrifugal Compressors

Unlike the others on this list, centrifugal compressors, also called radial compressors, are not positive displacement compressors. This sub-class of dynamic work-absorbing turbomachinery makes use of particularly high-speed spinning impellers in order to accelerate the air. Afterwards, a diffuser is then used to decelerate the air. Basically, radial compressors achieve pressure rise through the addition of kinetic energy to a flow of fluid by using the impeller or rotor. This kinetic energy is then changed into an increase in static pressure or potential energy through the use of a diffuser that slows the flow. In most cases, the impeller’s pressure rise is nearly equal to that of the rise in the diffuser.

Using gas engine or electric motor, air compressors are machines that draw in air and squeeze volumes into compressed versions in order to increase their pressure. This high-pressure air is then put away in storage tanks where they are stored until such time that power is needed. Understanding the different types of air compressors will help you in making the best choice fit for your needs.

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