Air Compressor – Technology, Scope, Market

Air compressor is important industrial machinery used in wide range of industries for compression of air. The compressors find extensive applications because it can help in transporting fluids and gases, making petrochemical products, run pneumatically-based machinery and cooling of gases. The compression of air creates kinetic energy which in turn provides energy for operating many times of machinery, tools, etc.


What is Air Compressor?

It is industrial machinery based on pneumatic action to convert power, using mostly electric motor gasoline and diesel machinery, into potential energy stored in the form of compressed air. There are numerous ways via which the compressor pushes more air into storage tanks by increasing pressure.

When the pressure of the storage tank breaches its designated maximum limit, the compressor stops working. The compressed air remains stored in the tank until we release it for use. The compressed air has got many applications due to the kinetic energy latent in it. When the energy of the compressed air is released the pressure of the tank decreases.

With the release of the energy, the tank depressurizes. As the pressure reaches designated low limit, the air compressor starts working re-pressurizing the tank again. Energy latent in the compressed air has assortment of applications. However, the distinction between an air compressor and a pump is important. The former works only with gas/air while latter works only on liquid.

Importance of Compressed Air

The importance of compressed air is immense because so many industries are dependent on its use. Since its invention in 1888 by Austrian engineer Viktor Popp, the air compressors have become an indispensable part of the modern society.

A large number of industries are so dependent on the use of the compressors that we cannot even imagine industrial production without the use of compressed air. Use of air compressors is essential in the modern society as we know.

So many home appliances and other daily use equipment require use of the compressors. One can see the importance of compressed air from the fact that it now considered as the fourth utility after electricity, water and gas.

The numbers back up this bold statement. It is estimated that 10% of all electricity consumed by the manufacturing industry is used for compressed air.

It is so important because of its multitude of applications. In fact, all industries require the use of compressed air starting from manufacturing plants to automobiles, trains, ships, etc.

Why Do We Require Compressed Air?

In the preceding paragraph, we understood the importance of the compressed in industrial and daily applications. In order to understand why we require compressed air it is imperative that we need to understand the physics underlying the operation of an air compressor.

We use an air compressor for packing the regular air into a smaller space. The compression rushes around molecules creating kinetic energy, which we use straightaway or store it for later use. It is the kinetic energy latent in the compressed air that the various industrial devices use for operating.


Types of Air Compressors

There are mainly 2 types of compressors – first is positive displacement and second is dynamic compressors. Positive displacement compressors function by taking in the air forcing it into a smaller space to increase pressure. On the other hand, dynamic compressors impart pressure to the air through the action of rotating impellers.

Positive Displacement Compressor

Positive displacement compressors are further sub-divided into rotary screw and reciprocating types.

Rotary Screw Compressor

This type of compressor lets the filtered air to enter the inlet at the point of unmeshing of male and female rotors. The air gets trapped between the rotors with space shrinking when the rotors remesh on the opposite end. During this process, compression of air takes place moving it to the discharging port. The compression generates heat for which we introduce cooling to eliminate heat.

The process of cooling takes places inside the air compressor which keeps all the components shielded from heat. Mostly the compressors are either air cooled or water cooled. Rotary compressors are efficient, reliable and very easy to operate. Major benefit of using the rotary compressor is its compact size with smooth air output. It has a long life cycle of over 20 years.

Oil-free rotary compressors use specialized machinery for compression of air without the use of oil. In the compression chamber it generates oil-free air. These compressors come both in air cooled and water cooled formats.

Reciprocating Air Compressors

Compression in reciprocating air compressors takes place with the use of piston in a cylinder.  Single-stage and 2-stage compressors are common in use. However, we find that single-stage compressors are most efficient in the pressure range of 70-100 psig. And, the two-stage compressors are ideal if you require higher pressure typically in the range of 100-250 psig.

However, the reciprocating compressors achieve compression via two techniques —single-acting and double-acting.  In the single-acting compressor, only the one side of piston is used and the double-acting uses the both sides of the piston. Industries can install them either in air-cooled and water-cooled configuration in wide range of pressures and sizes.

Dynamic Air Compressors

Dynamic air compressors function through trapping of air between the rotors on a speedily moving compression impeller which imparts high velocity. The compressed air moves through a diffuser into a tank where kinetic energy becomes latent in static pressure. Mostly the compressors are equipped with turbo compressors which work on axial or radial flow pattern.

Centrifugal Air Compressor

It is a dynamic air compressor that works on the process of transferring of energy through the rotating impeller to the air. The centrifugal compressor produces high pressure air discharge by dint of the angular momentum provided by the rotating impeller. The compressors tend to rotate at a high speed compared to other compressors to achieve efficiency. They are suitable for large capacities because of the uninterrupted flow. It is an oil-free compressor.

Technology Advancement

In the projected forecast for 2021 to 2026 the advancement in the compression technologies will be the key trigger for growth. No denying the innovation in the technique will improve the operational efficiencies and equipment. Energy efficient and more productive equipment will drive the growth in the oxygen nitrogen air separation market.

Scope of Air Compressor Market

Mostly the three types of air compressors are used in the industry, namely, rotary air compressors, reciprocating air compressors and centrifugal air compressors.

The compressors are industrial devices which use electric motor to convert electric power into potential energy in the form of compressed air.

It finds extensive applications in various industries through the use of kinetic energy released from the compressors. The air is first purified from impurities and water moisture before it is compressed.

The scope is huge considering the wide range of industries where we find its application. These industries include food & beverages, manufacturing, healthcare, power generation, petroleum, medical oxygen plant and numerous others.

Market Forecast for Air Compressors

The industrial air compression is likely to grow at a CAGR of 3.1% in the forecast period from 2021 year to 2026 year. In all likelihood, it will cross the valuation of USD 17.43 billion by 2026. The market had a valuation of USD 14.52billion in 2020 session.

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