When it comes to generating compressed air there are many types of compressors to utilize within a facility. One of those types is a dual acting reciprocating compressor. This is a type of positive displacement compressor that takes advantage of a piston style action and actually compresses air on both directions of the stroke. Below you can see a video from a company that showcases how a dual acting compressor works and gives a good representation of how it is compressing the air on both directions of travel.
The reciprocating type of air compressor uses a motor that turns a crank which pushes a piston inside a cylinder; like the engine in your car. In a basic cycle, an intake valve opens to allow the ambient air into the cylinder, the gas gets trapped, and once it is compressed by the piston, the exhaust valve opens to discharge the compressed volume into a tank. This method of compression happens for both the single and double acting reciprocating compressors.
With a single acting compressor, the air is compressed only on the up-stroke of the piston inside the cylinder. The double acting compressor compresses the air on both the up-stroke and the down-stroke of the piston, doubling the capacity of a given cylinder size. This “double” compression cycle is what makes this type of air compressor very efficient. A single acting compressor will have an operating efficiency between 100 cfm / 23 kW of air while the double acting compressor has an operating efficiency between 100 cfm 15.5 kW . Therefore, electricity cost is less with a double-acting reciprocating air compressor to make the same amount of compressed air.
These compressors are ruggedly designed to be driven 100% of the time and to essentially be a Clydesdale of compressors. They are commonly used with applications or systems requiring higher pressures and come in lubricated or non-lubricated models.
If you would like to discuss air compressors or how to efficiently utilize the air that your system is producing so that you aren’t giving your compressor an artificial load that isn’t needed, contact us.
Leaks are one of the major wastes of compressed air that could happen in a system. But what affect can leaks have on your system and how can these leaks be found? Total leaks in a compressed air line can account for wasting almost 20-30% of a compressors output. These leaks can commonly be found in areas were a pipe comes in contact with a joint, connections to devices that use the compressed air, and storage tanks.
There are four main affects that a leak in your compressed air system can have and they are as follows; 1) cause in pressure drop across the system, 2) shorten the life of almost all supply system equipment, 3) increased running time of the compressor, and 4) unnecessary compressor capacity.
A pressure drop across your compressed air system can lead to a decreased in efficiency of the end use equipment (i.e. an EXAIR Air Knife or Air Nozzle). This adversely effects production as it may take longer to blow off or cool a product or not blow off the product well enough to meet quality standards.
Leaks can shorten the life of almost all supply system components such as air compressors, this is because the compressor has to continuously run to make up for the air loss from the leak. By forcing the equipment to continuously run or cycle more frequently means that the moving parts in the compressor will wear down faster.
An increased run time due to leaks can also lead to more maintenance on supply equipment for the same reasons as to why the life of the compressor is shortened. The increase stress on the compressor due to unnecessary running of the compressor.
Leaks can also lead to adding unnecessary compressor size. The wasted air that is being expelled from the leak is an additional demand in your system. If leaks are not fixed it may require a larger compressor to make up for the loss of air in your system.
All of these effects are an additional cost that is tacked onto the already existing utility cost of your compressed air. But luckily there are ways to find these leaks and patch them up before it can get to out of control. One of the ways to help find leaks in your system is the EXAIR’s affordable Ultrasonic Leak Detector. This leak detector uses ultrasonic waves to detect were costly leaks can be found so that they can be patched or fixed.
If you have questions about a Leak Prevention Program or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.
Cody Biehle Application Engineer EXAIR Corporation Visit us on the Web Follow me on Twitter Like us on Facebook
ISO 8573-1:2010 is the international standard for Air Quality Classes. It lays the ground rules for acceptable levels of pollutants, particulate, moisture, and oil in a compressed air source.
Specification Example: ISO 8573-1:2010 [2:2:1]
This indicates Class 2 for particles, Class 2 for water, and Class 1 for oil.
Though the standard has detailed standards for maximum particle size, maximum pressure dew point and maximum oil content for different industries and/or environments (see Slide show above) we can generalize a bit and express the levels of air quality like this:
Plant Air – general plant compressed air used for air tools, nozzles etc. Instrument Air – found in laboratories, paint and powder coat booths, used for climate control. Process Air – used in food and pharmaceutical applications, electronics applications. Breathing Air – used for breathing respirators, breathing tanks and hospital air systems.
Achieving the different levels of air quality can be done with 3 basic types of filtration. 1. Particulate – a filter element removes particles larger than the opening in the filter material. Typically done with particles greater than 1 micron. 2. Coalescing – use different methods to capture the particles; 1) direct interception – works like a sieve, 2) Inertial impaction – collision with filter media fibers, 3) Diffusion – particles travel in a spiral motion and are captured in the filter media. 3. Adsorption – the filter element holds the contaminants by molecular adhesion.
The higher the class your air needs to be the more of these filtration methods you will use. Adsorption will remove more and finer particles than a simple particulate filter. And many applications will use a combination of these methods.
EXAIR products, all of which need a source of “clean, dry air” will operate very well utilizing a source of plant air and only a particulate filter. Your process, dictate if you need to supply additional filtration methods for better air quality. For example, an automotive plant using compressed air to blow parts off will not need the kind of filtration a food handling facility will need while blowing a food product off. If you are using a lubricated compressor or have lubricant in your compressed air lines from another source, you will want to use a coalescing oil removal filter.
EXAIR stocks 5 micron particulate filters which are properly sized for each individual product as an option for our customers if they choose. We also stock coalescing oil removal filters for customers who may need to remove oil from the air. Replacement filter elements are also available and should be replaced at least twice a year, depending on the quality of your air.
Remember to ask about filtration if you have any concerns about your air quality. We can assist in sizing up the proper filters to get the air quality we recommend for proper operation and longevity of our products.
When I was seventeen my grandfather took me to a used are dealership and helped me buy my first car. It wasn’t anything special, as it was a 1996 Chevrolet Lumina. It had its fair share of bumps and bruises, but the bones were solid. We took it home and he taught me how to do all the basics, we changed the oil, oil filter, air filter, brakes, pretty much every fluid we could, we changed.
You see my grandfather retired from Ford Motor Company after 50+ years of service. And he always said, “If you treat it right, it will treat you right.”; and I’ve lived by that ever since.
Just like a car, air compressors require regular maintenance to run at peak performance and minimize unscheduled downtime. Inadequate maintenance can have a significant impact on energy consumption via lower compression efficiency, air leakage, or pressure variability. It can also lead to high operating temperatures, poor moisture control, and excessive contamination.
Most problems are minor and can be corrected by simple adjustments, cleaning, part replacement, or the elimination of adverse conditions. This maintenance is very similar to the car maintenance mentioned above, replace filters, fluids, checking cooling systems, check belts and identify any leaks and address.
All equipment in the compressed air system should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturers specifications. Manufacturers provide inspection, maintenance, and service schedules that should be followed strictly. In many cases, it makes sense from efficiency and economic stand-points to maintain equipment more frequently than the intervals recommended by the manufactures, which are primarily designed to protect equipment.
One way to tell if your system is being maintained well and is operating properly is to periodically baseline the system by tracking power, pressure, flow (EXAIR Digital Flowmeter), and temperature. If power use at a given pressure and flow rate goes up, the systems efficiency is degrading.
Types Of Maintenance
Maintaining a compressed air system requires caring for the equipment, paying attention to changes and trends, and responding promptly to maintain operating reliability and efficiency. Types of maintenance include;
Poor Maintenance – Sadly, some plants still operate on the philosophy, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Due to the lack of routine preventative maintenance, this practice may result in complete replacement of an expensive air compressor as well as unscheduled and costly production interruptions.
Preventive Maintenance – This type of maintenance can be done by plant personnel or by an outside service provider. Usually, it includes regularly scheduled monitoring of operating conditions. Replacement of air and lubricant filters, lubricant sampling and replacement, minor repairs and adjustments, and an overview of compressor and accessory equipment operation.
Predictive Maintenance – Predictive maintenance involves monitoring compressor conditions and trends , including operating parameters such as power use, pressure drops, operating temperatures, and vibration levels. The Right combination of preventive and predictive maintenance generally will minimize repair and maintenance costs.
Proactive Maintenance – If a defect is detected, proactive maintenance involves looking for the cause and determining how to prevent a recurrence.
Unfortunately, even the best maintenance procedures cannot eliminate the possibility of an unexpected breakdown. Provisions should be made for standby equipment to allow maintenance with out interrupting production.
If you would like to discuss improving your compressed air efficiency or any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.
In one of my previous jobs, I was responsible for the operation of the facility. One of my biggest responsibilities was the air compressor because it supplied pressurized air though out the facility to feed the pneumatic systems. Like with many industries, the compressor system is the life blood of the company. If the compressor fails, the whole facility will stop. In this blog, I will share some preventative maintenance items and schedules for your air compressors.
Because the cost to make compressed air is so expensive, compressed air systems are considered to be a fourth utility. And with any important investment, you would like to keep it operating as long and efficiently as possible. To do this, it is recommended to get your air compressor a “checkup” every so often. I will cover some important items to check as well as a recommended schedule for checking. Depending on the size of your air compressors, some items may or may not apply.
1. Intake filter: The intake filter is used to clean the air that is being drawn into the air compressor. Particles can damage the air pump mechanisms, so it is important to have the proper filtration level. But, as the intake filter builds up with debris, the pressure drop will increase. If they are not properly monitored and cleaned, the air flow will be restricted. This can cause the motors to operate harder and hotter as well as reduce the efficiency of the air compressor.
2. Compressor Oil: This would be for flooded screws and reciprocating compressors that use oil to operate the air pump. Most systems will have an oil sight gauge to verify proper levels. In larger systems, the oil can be checked for acidity which will tell you the level at which the oil is breaking down. The oil, like in your car, has to be changed after so many hours of operation. This is critical to keep the air pump running smoothly without service interruptions.
3. Belts and Couplings: These items transmit the power from the motor to the air pump. Check their alignment, condition, and tension (belts only) as specified by the manufacturer. You should have spares on hand in case of any failures.
4. Air/Oil Separators: This filter removes as much oil from the compressed air before it travels downstream. It returns the oil back to the sump of the air compressor. If the Air/Oil Separator builds too much pressure drop or gets damaged, excess oil will travel downstream. Not only will the air pump lose the required oil level, but it will also affect the performance of downstream parts like your air dryer and after cooler.
5. Internal filters: Some air compressors will come with an attached refrigerated air dryer. With these types of air compressors, they will place coalescing filters to remove any residual oil. These filters should be checked for pressure drop. If the pressure drop gets too high, then it will rob your compressed air system of air pressure. Some filters come with a pressure drop indicator which can help you to determine the life of the internal filter element.
6. Unloader valve: When an air compressor unloads, this valve will help to remove any compressed air that is trapped in the cavity of the air pump. So, when the air compressor restarts, it does not have to “work” against this “trapped” air pressure. If they do not fully unload, the air compressor will have to work much harder to restart, wasting energy.
Preventative maintenance is very important, and checks need to be performed periodically. As for a schedule, I created a rough sequence to verify, change, or clean certain items that are important to your air compressor. You can also check with your local compressor representative for a more detailed maintenance schedule.
After stopping, remove any condensate from the receiver tank.
Check oil level.
Inspect cooling fins on air pump. Clean if necessary
Inspect oil cooler. Clean if necessary
Inspect the inlet air filter. Clean or replace if necessary.
Check the belt for tension and cracks. Tighten or replace.
Check differential pressure indicators on outlet compressed air filters.
Replace Air Inlet Filter
Replace the air-oil separator
Test safety valves and unloader valve
Replace compressed air filters
Grease bearings if required
Keeping your air compressor running optimally is very important for pneumatic operations and energy savings. I shared some important information above to assist. Another area to check would be your pneumatic system downstream of the air compressor. EXAIR manufactures engineered products that can reduce air consumption rates. You can contact an Application Engineer to discuss further on how we can save you energy, money, and your air compressor.
Take a second and think about where the air compressor is located within your facility. It is more than likely not a major focal point displayed prominently in the floor layout. There is a better chance it is tucked away in a corner of the facility where operators seldom travel. No matter the type of air compressor, it still has an intake where it pulls in the ambient air from around the compressor then sends it through some process and on the demand side of your compressed air system. These intakes can easily be placed out of sight and out of mind especially in older facilities that were designed when compressors were loud and the piping layout kept them away from operators due to sound level restrictions.
That’s why your compressor manufacturer supplies a specific grade of air inlet/intake filter, and this is your first line of defense. If it’s dirty, your compressor is running harder, and costs you more to operate it. If it’s damaged, you’re not only letting dirt into your system; you’re letting it foul & damage your compressor. It’s just like changing the air filter on your car, your car needs clean air to run correctly, so does your compressor and the entire demand side of your compressed air system.
According to the Compressed Air Challenge, as a compressor inlet filter becomes dirty, the pressure drop across the inlet increases, this is very similar to the point of use compressed air filters. The inlet filter on the compressor is the only path the compressor has to pull in the air, when restricted the compressor can begin to starve for air very similar to if you only had a small straw to breath through and told to run a marathon. A clogged inlet filter can give false symptoms to compressor technicians as well.
The effects can mimic inlet valve modulation which result in increased compression ratios. If we were to form an example based on a compressor with a positive displacement, if the filter pressure drop increases by 20″ H2O, a 5% reduction of the mass flow of air will be present without a reduction in the power being drawn by the compressor. This all leads to inefficiency which easily amounts to more than the cost to replace the depleted inlet air filter.
Where you place the filter is just as important as how often you replace it. There are some tips to be used when mounting the inlet filter.
The filter can be placed on the compressor, but the inlet pipe should be coming from an external area to the compressor room or even the building if possible. The inlet should be free from any contaminants as well. Some examples that are easy to overlook are nearby condensate discharges, other system exhausts and precipitation.
Depending on the type of compressor being used, a lower intake air temperature can increase the mass flow of air due to the air density. A compressor that is lubricant injected is not susceptible to this due to the air mixing with the warmer lubricant before being compressed.
If you would like to discuss improving your compressed air efficiency or any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.
Continuing our series on different types of air compressors, today’s blog will feature the centrifugal compressor. The centrifugal compressor is classified as a dynamic compressor. Dynamic compressors are designed to work with a continuous flow of air that has its velocity increased by an impeller rotating at a very high speed.
The centrifugal compressor works by transforming the kinetic energy and velocity into pressure energy in the diffuser. The air passes through the inlet guide vanes being drawn into the center of a rotating Impeller with radial blades and is then pushed outward from the center by centrifugal force. This radial movement of air results in a pressure rise and the generation of kinetic energy. The kinetic energy is also converted into pressure by passing through the diffuser.
Multiple stages are required to raise the pressure to a sufficient level for typical industrial plant requirements. Each stage takes up a part of the overall pressure rise of the compressor unit. Depending on the pressure required for the application, a number of stages can be arranged in a series to achieve a higher pressure.
The most common centrifugal air compressor has two to four stages to generate pressures of 100 to 150 PSIG and incorporates a water cooled inter-cooler and separator between each stage to remove condensation and cool the air prior to entering the next stage.
Centrifugal compressors are the near middle of the road regarding efficiency, their typical operating cost is 16 to 20 kW/100 CFM. The most efficient compressor type is the double-acting reciprocating and costs 15 to 16 kW/100 SCFM and the least is the Sliding Vane which costs 21 to 23 kW/100 SCFM.
Advantages of the centrifugal air compressor:
Up to 1500 HP systems are available
Price per HP drops as system size increases
Supplies lubricant-free air
Special installation pads are not required for installation
Disadvantages of the centrifugal air compressor
Costs more Initially
Requires specialized maintenance
Due to high rotational speeds (can exceed 50,000 RPM) precision high speed bearings and vibration monitoring are required
EXAIR recommends contacting a reputable air compressor dealer in your area to discuss your volume and pressure requirements to determine the best size & type air compressor for your needs.
Regardless of the type of air compressor you have, EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products® can minimize your compressed air consumption, potentially reducing the size of compressor needed, reduce noise and still deliver powerful results! If you would like to discuss highly efficient and quiet point of use compressed air products or any EXAIR product, we would enjoy hearing from you.