Air compressors are a type of tool that can power machinery using the energy from pressurized air. It works by forcing air through a container and an output tube, increasing pressure as it moves and transforming electrical energy into kinetic energy. Compressors can come in many types and configurations for more versatility and functionality. Each design and method uses a unique compression method to deliver different results and apply to various industries.
These machines are helpful for businesses looking for an efficient way to power their machinery and tools. They are often more effective than other methods and can function without bulky motors, instead relying on electrical energy. Further, they can power several pieces of equipment at once.
Business owners prefer air compressors because they are easier to maintain. You can upkeep your air compressor by lubricating it with oil. Oil-lubricated compressors are incredibly durable and can run longer, making them ideal for industrial purposes. However, you can also find oil-free air compressors containing a permanent lubricant to preserve the equipment’s quality and functionality.
There are two styles of air compressors — positive displacement and dynamic displacement. Each type uses a different method to compress air.
A positive displacement air compressor will compress air by forcing it into the pressurization chamber and reducing its volume. This type is versatile, applying to personal power equipment and industrial machinery.
A dynamic displacement instead will use rotating fan blades to move air to the other side of the pressurization chamber. It will compress the air by suddenly cutting off the airflow when it reaches the end of the chamber, causing pressure to increase. This type is more specific to industrial applications than personal use.
Both compression methods have many types and configurations that fall under each category for more functionality. Knowing the difference between the methods can help you narrow your search when looking for an air compressor.
As versatile pieces of equipment, air compressors come in multiple types, so you may have a few questions about how they operate. Here is a closer look:
A rotary screw air compressor works through positive displacement and two screws to pressurize air for use. The screws twist in opposite directions, creating constant movement throughout the chamber. Air moves through the screws, where they get trapped between the spin cycles. As the air travels through the chamber to the output pipe, it compresses in spaces between the screws.
This air compressor type is prevalent because it is easy to maintain. If you invest in this air compressor, you will need to lubricate it regularly with oil. This air compressor’s design makes it suitable for applications that require long-term, continual use, including industrial applications.
Rotary vane air compressors consist of an off-center axel that spins a vane with multiple, uneven points. The vane will trap the air as it turns, catching it in the larger sections. The air will travel with the vane and move to the chamber’s smaller areas, compressing and pressuring it.
This type is more popular for personal and private use because it is straightforward to use. It is also a positive displacement compression type.
Also called piston air compressors, this air compressor type can function in single or two phases.
Single-phase reciprocating includes a piston attached to an axel, which pushes the piston up and down. When the piston lowers, air moves into the chamber. The axel will then force the piston up, which will compress the air in the chamber as space closes and propels it toward the output pipe.
In a two-phase reciprocating compressor, two pistons operate the separate phases. When the first piston moves, it allows air into the compressor. When the piston moves again, it pushes the air through a tube to the pressurization chamber. In the tube, the air cools, making this compressor type more unique than the others. In the pressurization chamber, the air compressor process follows the same steps as the single-phase type with a piston compressing the air as it moves up and down.
Reciprocating compressors are typically more expensive, making them more standard in industrial settings and factories over personal projects. Like rotary screw and rotary vane air compressors, this type uses positive displacement to power compression.
Axial air compressors are dynamic displacement compressor types. The compression chambers of axial air compressors contain a row of vertical fans, which alternate between on and off. The running fans help guide air through the chamber, while the off fans help build pressure as it moves. The space between the fans decreases toward the end of the chamber, fostering more kinetic energy in the air particles as it approaches the output pipe.
This air compressor type is less standard because it has minimal functionality. One of the more common applications for this type is powering aircraft engines.
This air compressor includes a singular fan spinning around a circular pressurization chamber. The fan moves at very high speeds, allowing it to push air particles against the outer chamber wall. This action will move the air around the chamber until it reaches a diffuser, where it slows down and builds pressure before going through the output tube.
Centrifugal air compressors require a high-speed electric motor to power the fan. You can commonly find them in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, making them more standard than other types.
When you need to find a suitable air compressor for your business, partnering with an experienced air compressor distributor can help answer questions and pair you with quality equipment.
At Compressed Air Technologies, Inc., we offer several types of air compressors, including two-phase reciprocal and oil-free. Our highly trained staff and customer service can answer your questions about equipment to match you with an air compressor that will support your desired functionality. We serve several industries, from automotive and chemical to food and furniture, so we have the experience to understand your business’s unique needs.
Contact us today to discuss your questions or inquiries with an expert.