what is an air compressor

What is an Air Compressor?

What is an Air Compressor and why would you use one?

Decades ago, the workshops were using heavyweight and complex mechanical systems to draw power for their tools. They were using massive units of belt-and-pulley systems and wheels. These systems were massive as they comprised of large components.

Things began to take a turn in favor of workshops and manufacturing industries in the year 1799 when George Medhurst designed the first-ever motorized air compressor. The idea came in the year 1650 after Otto von Guericke, a German scientist, planned and invented a single-piston-and-cylinder air pump. Since then, the air compressors have started replacing the complex mechanical systems and have brought ease and convenience in the lives of people.

From air conditioners to the propulsion of jets, today, air compressors are being used everywhere! Despite being so common, many people do not have a clear idea of what is an air compressor!

What is an air compressor and how does is work?

Air compressors work on pneumatic functionality and are found everywhere, from your homes to your workplaces. These devices work mainly on two operations, and that are compression operation and release operation. By working on these two operations, these devices provide airflow to equipment in order to help them perform their functions.

An air compressor uses an electric source to function and works by sucking in considerable amounts of air from the atmosphere. Every time a compressor sucks in air, it compresses it in a small compartment, which increases its pressure. The high-pressure compressed air is then sent to the air receiver tank that helps the tools to operate.

The tools that an air compressor is used for include drills, grinders, nail guns, sanders, spray guns, and staplers. The compactness and its lightweight is what makes air compressors so popular today.

Types of Air Compressors

When understanding air compressors, it is essential to know about its types and how each of these is different. There are two major types of air compressors, and each of these offers a unique set of features. The types include positive displacement compressors and dynamic compressors.

Positive Displacement Compressors

The first type of air compressor that is commonly used around the world is the positive displacement compressor. These air compressors function mechanically to compress and pressurize the air. There are two sub-categories of positive displacement compressors, and these are rotary screw compressors and reciprocating compressors.

Rotary Screw Compressors

The air from the atmosphere enters the rotary screw compressors from the inlet; it is the exact point where the male and female rotors un-mesh. It traps the air between the inlet and the rotors, and as the rotors mesh, space begins to reduce, compressing the air trapped in between.

After the air compresses, it passes to the discharge port, and at the same time, the air compressor is injected with cooling fluid. Air compression can heat the housing, and this fluid mixes with the air, cools the housing, and lubricates the rotors for smooth operation. The fluid after cooling the housing is drained out from the injection port. The components of this compressor never heat up to a very high extent. Rotary screw compressors are also known as the air or water-cooled compressor package.

The reason behind their popularity is that these compressors are much easier to maintain and operate in comparison to other types of compressors that are available in the market. The variable speed and compressor displacement feature of these compressors is another reason why these are so commonly in use around the world. By using this compressor, one can enjoy incredible benefits such as smooth and pulse-free air output.

Oil-free rotating screw compressors are a better option as compared to the oil-flooded compressors as these provide true oil-free air.

Reciprocating Air Compressors

Another sub-category of positive displacement air compressors is the reciprocating air compressor. Instead of rotary screws, these compressors use a simple piston-and-cylinder mechanism for operating.

There are two types of reciprocating air compressors, which include single-stage and two-stage. For equipment that requires pressures within 100psig, make use of single-stage compressors. Two-stage compressors are ideal for equipment that requires pressure more than 100psig.

Dynamic Compressors

The second type of air compressor that can be found in the market today is the dynamic air compressors. These compressors are also termed as centrifugal air compressors. These devices convert the angular momentum of the rotating impeller to produce highly pressurize the air. The process is known as dynamic displacement.

These compressors are very efficient as they rotate at much higher speeds than the usual compressors. The flow from these compressors is continuous, and that is why they are designed with high capacity. The guide vanes in the compressor help in controlling its capacity and reducing its flow. It is an oil-free compressor. The oil refineries and petrochemical plants use these compressors as they provide continuous flow.

The Essential Factors of Consideration for Air Compressors

Whenever you are choosing a product, you bring into consideration some key factors. Similarly, in the case of compressors, there are some essential factors that one has to consider before making the final choice.

The Size

The first and the most crucial factor to consider in this case is the size of the air compressor. By size, we mean one has to look at its volumetric flow that is provided by the manufacturer under CFM. One can determine the size of the compressor through the CFM it is delivering.

Power Source

The next and a significant factor to look into when choosing an air compressor is its power source requirement. There are two types of compressors in terms of power source, ones that use gasoline and others that require an electric power source.

Buying a compressor is a costly expense, and that is why it is essential to evaluate whether it is the right one for you or not. You will find hundreds of air compressor manufacturers offering thousands of different models. Make sure you choose the right one and prevent your money from going to waste!