Understanding Industrial Air Compressors

While every part of a compressed air system has an important role to play, from compressed air piping to quick connect couplings, no part will make or break your system like the air compressor itself. The right compressor can provide you with years of trouble free operation while the wrong one can end up costing you an enormous amount of time and money.

In this blog, we look at what you need to consider when choosing the right air compressor for your system.

What Size Compressor Do I Need?

The size of the compressor you choose will depend on three factors; maximum pressure, maximum flow, and demand cycle compressor strength. Maximum pressure refers to the pressure you will need to supply to your pneumatic tools and equipment, and is typically measured in pounds per square inch (psi), bars, or Pascals (Pa). Maximum flow refers to the available air required for your tools or circuit and can be is commonly measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm), litres per second (l/s) or cubic metres per hour (m³/h).

One of the most important factors in selecting piston compressors is to know the output in Free Air Delivery (FAD) which is a real measure of output rather than Displacement which is a theoretic measure. Also consider the duty cycle as piston compressors should not be operating under load more than 60% of the time, whereas screw compressors need to be worked hard to avoid moisture building up in the oil and corroding the screw components.

Positive Displacement Vs. Centrifugal Compressors

Most industrial air compressors are positive displacement compressors. With this type of compressor, the mechanism, usually powered by electricity, compresses the air by reducing its volume. There are many different types of mechanisms that are used to achieve this. Probably the most common type of positive displacement compressor are piston compressors, which can be single-cylinder or multi-cylinder, can achieve pressure of up to 400 bar and are generally the most affordable air compressor pumps. Other popular types of positive displacement pumps include screw compressors and rotary vane compressors.

Centrifugal compressors, sometimes also called dynamic compressors, use a rotating radial impeller to draw air through the machine in much the same way as turbochargers used in the automotive industry.  They are generally used when a high flow rate and high pressure are required on a continuous basis, as with some applications in the chemical and energy production industries.

Beyond this, there are variants of stationary, transportable, and portable compressors. As the names suggest, stationary compressors are not intended to be moved once they have been installed and are very powerful, while portable compressors can be moved but are generally not intended for regular, heavy use. Transportable compressors fall somewhere in between. They usually feature a combustion engine and include a skid base designed to allow movement with a forklift or pallet truck.

Other Types of Air Compressors

Other variations of air compressors include: silenced compressors, intended to provide powerful performance with considerably reduced noise; variable speed drive (VSD) compressors, which minimise unnecessary energy usage to keep efficiency high and costs low; and oil free compressors, which are provide clean compressed air and are favoured for being more environmentally friendly than other types of compressors.

How Air Energy Can Help

With close to 90 years’ combined experience in the compressed air industry, the team at Air Energy are able to provide expert guidance when it comes to the construction and configuration of your system. Our compressors, filters, dryers pumps, pipes, and other system components are sourced from the most trusted manufacturers around the world.

Contact Air Energy Today

To speak to one of our expert team members about your next project or for more information on any of our products, visit the contact section of our website and call or email air energy today.