All about Air Compressors

Pressurized air is important for a number of uses such as HVAC systems, filling tires, operating pneumatic tools, and providing safe pressures within aircraft cabins for breathing. In order to quickly and easily produce pressurized air for countless applications, a pneumatic device known as an air compressor is relied upon. With air compressors, power from an electric motor, diesel, gasoline engine, or other source can be used to create potential energy that is stored in pressurized air. As a very common component to numerous systems and devices, understanding the basic functionality of an air compressor can be quite beneficial for anyone taking advantage of them.

Air compression can be achieved through several methods, and pressure is increased as air is forced into a storage tank. Once a set level is reached, the air compressor shuts off and the tank can then be used for applications as needed. In some cases, air compressors can continuously be used, topping off a tank whenever it reaches its lower pressure limits. Unlike pumps that typically pressurize liquids and other related fluids, air compressors are solely used for gasses and air.

Classification of Air Compressors

The classification of air compressors can be carried out in one of two ways, those of which are classifying them by their pressure delivered or by their design and principle of operation. When classified by delivered pressure, compressors may be considered low-pressure when discharging pressure that is 10 bar or less, medium-pressure when discharging pressure that is between 10.4 to 68.9 bar, and high-pressure when discharging pressure at 69 bar or above. When classifying by the principle of operation, common classifications include single-stage reciprocating compressors, two-stage reciprocating compressors, compound compressors, rotary-screw compressors, rotary vane pumps, scroll compressors, turbo compressors, and centrifugal compressors.

Methods of Air Compression

The methods of air compression can also be categorized into positive displacement and dynamic displacement types, each utilizing a different approach for increasing air pressure. With positive displacement types, air is forced into a chamber and volume decreases in order to compress air molecules. Once a set maximum pressure is reached, either a port or valve will open in order to divert the air into a compression chamber. Piston type air compressors are a common positive displacement air compressor, and they utilize the motion of piston assemblies to pump air into a chamber. With a moving piston, a one-way valve can also direct air in and out of the chamber. As the piston enters its downward stroke, air is drawn into a chamber. Upon the upstroke of the piston, air is then forced out and into a storage tank. Beyond the piston type air compressor, two other common positive displacement compressors are the rotary screw compressor that utilizes a helical screw assembly and the vane compressor that relies on varied blade placement.

With dynamic displacement, a rotating component within the device serves to impart kinetic energy into air that can later be converted into pressure energy. Utilizing a spinning impeller, centrifugal force can be generated in order to increase the velocity of air. As air speeds up upon capture and is then decelerated, the air will become pressurized. Common types of dynamic displacement air compressors are centrifugal and axial compressors, both of which utilize the aforementioned method of creating pressurized air.

With the various types of air compressor devices available, countless applications can benefit from the generation of pressurized air. Accelerating RFQs is a leading distributor of aircraft parts, and we are your sourcing solution for top quality air compressor components and other items that you may need for your various operations. To receive a competitive quote for items that you are most interested in, you may submit an RFQ form through our website and a dedicated account manager will be in touch with you in 15 minutes or less to continue the process.


March 15, 2022

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