A gas compressor is a crucial part of a compressed air system that outputs high-pressure gas either for storage or use in other processes. Gas compressor systems are very popular in many manufacturing and processing industries. There are a few different types of compressors with variations in designs, performance, and applications. However, the workings of all the different types are fundamentally the same.
The compression chamber is often the most notable feature of a compressor system. This is where all the compression happens. In most industrial compressors, the compression chamber is usually an air-tight cylindrical metal structure with thick stainless steel walls — the chamber enclosures all the mechanisms responsible for compressing gas.
Driver and Controls
A compressor converts kinetic energy into pressure. The kinetic energy is mechanically generated by what’s known as the driver. Most compressors use electric motors as the main driver; others use diesel or gas engines. The driver provides power to the mechanism inside the compression chamber through a motion transfer system.
Compressor controls are mostly centered around controlling various parameters of the driver system, which in turn dictates the performance of the compressor. These driver controls regulate the speed, state, output, efficiency, and other crucial characteristics of the system.
Nowadays, sensors are a big part of monitoring the properties of the compressor during operation to aid in improving throughput performance and safety. Some of the most common compressor sensors include temperature sensors, pressure trackers, leak detectors, driver load monitors, and gas flow sensors. These sensors show the operator important details about the status of the compressor; advanced sensors are even capable of firing alarms and shutting down the unit after detecting dangerous or unstable operation parameters.
This article does not dig deep into the actual mechanical details of a compressor. The reason is that each type of compressor (axial, rotary, centrifugal, and reciprocating compressors) has a different mechanical method of compressing gas. However, you at least now know the basics of compressors, which is an excellent starting point if you’re looking to learn about gas compressors in detail.