Air Pressure Revisited: How Compressors Work

One of the machines that is useful to have in your home is the air compressor. It is a machine that is versatile and can be utilized in many ways. First and foremost is to power up your power tools such as drills, nail guns, spray guns, and other power tools that you will see in hardware stores. It is also useful for other home needs such as inflating the tire of your car, balls, and floats used in pools. There are also times that it can be used as blowers for dust in small computer components for example, and then some other cleaning tools for stones and bricks. 

Air compressors are not only used at homes. They can also be seen at gasoline stations. They are also well known for industrial uses. Factories use them for driving their machinery and tools. 

In addition to that, it is an efficient machine. Why? This machine uses an electric motor or gas engine to power a device. It sucks successive volumes of air from the atmosphere and compresses each volume of air in a confined space to increase its pressure by making the volume smaller. Remember your ideal gas law. It transfers the then high-pressure air to a receiver tank. This device uses the energy from combustion (gas enginers) or electric potential (electric motors) to compress air and store potential energy in the form of pressurized air.

There are three types of air compressor, and they are

  1. Reciprocating compressor – These types of compressors use a piston seated in a cylinder to squeeze the air. They increase the air pressure as the piston enters the cylinder, thereby reducing its volume. 
  2. Rotary Screw compressor – These types of compressors use a rotating spiral screw to gradually reduce the volume of the air and subsequently increase its pressure. It consists of dual rotating components enclosed within a confined volume that essentially pressure the air as they move. As a result, this design does not require valves. This design is oil cooled, and the oil also serves to seal the internals as well. This type of compressor is easy to use and easy to fix when thigns go wrong. Other advantages are a steady stream of air that is unlikely to dampen. Also, the design allows for a small overall product that puts out a ton of air and lasts for ages.
  3. Centrifugal compressor – The last type of compressor uses an impeller to essentially spin the air into a small, confined space to force it to compress. These are mostly designed for applications where a large volume of compressed air is called for.

What are the factors that make air compressors work and why is it important to know about them? The first factor the amount of power which is measured by the horsepower. The ones with larger horsepower are usually arranged for industrial use. The other is the rate delivering the volume of air which is measured by cubic feet per minute or cfm. The surrounding environment of heat, humidity and wind has an impact on it. Because of this, they use the standard cfm to determine cfm in combination with outside pressure and humidity. There is also another rating called displacement cfm. It is the product of cylinder displacement and motor rpm. It determines the efficiency of the compressor pump. These are important factors because they indicate which tools the compressor can drive and support.