How Does Compressed Air Actually Work in Practice?

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compressed air

Air compressors have various uses, such as tire inflation, cleaning, etc. But have you ever wondered how these devices work?

Even regular air compressor users often don’t understand how air compression works. However, understanding this neat science is useful for optimal and correct mechanism use.

Are you interested in learning how compressed air works in practice? This guide has all your answers.

Understanding Compressed Air Tanks

Positive air displacement tanks are the most commonly used for air compression. The most widely available options are a rotary compressor or a piston compressor.

Rotary Compressors

Rotary compressors come in the screw or vane variety. Rotary screw compressors have two rotating screws that trap and compress air between them.

Vane compressors have a vane mounted on the rotor that rotates inside the cavity. Air is compressed between the vane and the casing and is pushed out through an exhaust port.

Piston Compressors

Piston compressors are popular for ease of use, power delivery, and less energy use. They consist of a crankshaft, a connecting rod and piston, a cylinder, and a valve head.

The compressor operator presets the desired amount of air using a dial, and the compressed air in the tank powers the air tools. The motor automatically turns on and off to maintain air pressure. A pressure switch prevents the air from exceeding a preset level.

A piston compressor has two types of valves: an inlet valve and a discharge valve. A vacuum force brings in outside air through the inlet valve when the piston moves down.

When the piston moves up, the air compresses, shutting the inlet valve and opening the discharge valve. The compressed air then moves from the discharge port to the tank.

How Are Tanks Powered?

Tanks get their power from either electricity or gas. Gas-powered options include diesel air compressors, which have many advantages over electric compressors.

Diesel compressors are more portable, as they don’t need to be attached to an electric source. This also means you don’t have to worry about loss of air pressure in case of a power loss.

Many diesel compressors also can convert the fuel into electricity. This allows them to serve as generators, which can help charge your phone and other devices in a power outage.

Diesel compressors also offer a strong power output, and they are often made of material more durable and long-lasting than electric tanks.

More on Technology

Now you have a better idea behind the science of compressed air and how it works in practice. Air compression is a fascinating process that few take the time to learn about. Thanks to this guide, you know a little more about compression tanks, how they work, how they are powered, and the uses they have that you may not have been aware of.

Look at our Technology section for more information about different machines and how they work.