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Types and Uses of Air Compressors

Types and Uses of Air Compressors

Most of us tend to take our refrigeration systems for granted. What we need to realize is that this system, along with many of the other applications that we use on an everyday basis, makes use of air compressors.
Natasha Bantwal
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Whether you simply need to fill the tires of your bike, or your refrigerator isn't working well, the air compressor will definitely prove to be useful some time or the other in your life. Such compressors have been used within the industry for more than a hundred years now, as air has always been considered to be a safe, clean, convenient, and flexible resource. Over the years, they have evolved into extremely reliable devices, becoming almost indispensable in many applications.
What is an Air Compressor?
Just as its name suggests, it is a certain amount of air, compressed and stored in a tank, to be used later. All portable compressors are used for precisely this reason. They have a wide range of utility. Most people take the role and functioning of these devices for granted. However, if at all you happen to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire, then you'll probably wish you had carried a compressor along with you.
Uses
As mentioned above, there are so many different uses, some that you may have not even imagined.
  • Inflating balloons is just one obvious use. Compressed gases are blown into the balloons to save you the energy, effort, and time.
  • Pumping air into tires is another common purpose. Car owners ought to have compact, portable compressors kept in their cars, in case of emergencies.
  • A particular type of these is used in hospitals, for the purpose of delivering oxygen directly into the human body.
  • Some compressors are also included in the scuba divers' kits, to deliver oxygen to them when they are below sea level.
  • In addition, the air conditioners also utilize air conditioning compressors as their main energy source. This is what helps them cool the surrounding areas.
  • Some of the other important uses would be in engines, wherein they are used in the cooling and heating systems.
  • They are also used in some of those large power plants that deliver energy to machinery.
Types
There are many different types available in the market. They come in a wide range of sizes as well. Here are some of the most common ones:
  • Piston or reciprocating compressors: These are most commonly available in the market. They are positive displacement compressors, with a range of fractional to very high horsepower. They work by pumping air into an air chamber, and then reducing the chamber's volume. The manner in which they work is very similar to that of an internal combustion engine, but more or less in a reverse manner. They have pistons, valves, cylinders, housing blocks, and crankshafts.
  • Rotary Screw Compressors: These work on the principle of air filling into a void, present between two helical mated screws. As these screws are turned, the volume will be reduced, resulting in increased air pressure. Most of these compressors inject oil into the compression area and bearing. This is done for lubrication, cooling, and even creating a kind of seal to reduce any leakage.
  • Rotary Sliding Vane Compressors: Like the piston and rotary ones, these also belong to the positive displacement category. The pump is made up of a stator, rotor, and 8 blades. The rotor is arranged in an eccentric manner within the stator, and forms a crescent-shaped, swept area between the two ports. As the rotor makes its revolutions, compression will take place, and the volume will go directly from maximum at the intake port, to minimum at the exhaust port. Oil will be injected into the intake for cooling, lubrication, and sealing the vanes.
  • Centrifugal Compressors: These are not positive displacement compressors like the others mentioned above. They make use of extremely high-speed spinning impellers to accelerate the air, and then, a diffuser in order to decelerate the air.
These devices are indeed underrated, even though they can be very beneficial in a lot of aspects of our lives. May they be oil/oil-less, electric/gas, portable, or high-pressure compressors, these are extremely useful tools with a wide variety of uses.
Cooling Compressor
Air conditioning compressor
Red compressor