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Compressed air is used in most thermal power plants to supply instrument air for applications which require clean, dry air for its operation and service air for applications in which quality of compressed air is not of prime importance. Essentially the same type of compressor is used for instrument air and service air purposes. It is the post compression treatment that decides the quality of compressed air. Typical instrument air consumers include Pneumatic actuated valves, Furnace flame viewing camera etc., Typical service air consumers Light Fuel oil atomizer, Air heater air motor etc., Compressed air is not free, but unfortunately it is often treated as such. We should be aware that compressed air is expensive to produce, and is likely consuming a significant slice of energy cost. Governing law P1 x V1 = P2 x V2 P1= Initial pressure V1= Initial volume P2= Final pressure V2= Final volume Compressed air systems
Compressed air storage (wet and dry receivers) can also be used to improve system efficiency and stability. Accumulated water is manually or automatically discharged through drains. Optional pressure controllers are used to maintain a constant pressure at an end use device. The Demand side includes distribution piping, secondary storage and end use equipment. Distribution piping systems transport compressed air from the air compressor to the end use point where it is required. Compressed air storage receivers on the demand side can also be used to improve system pressure stability. Types of compressor
Different types of compressors work based on two fundamental principles 1. The displacement principle 2. Dynamic compression Among displacement compressors are, for example, piston compressors and different types of rotary compressors. They are the most common compressors in most countries. On a piston compressor for example, the air is drawn into a compression chamber, which is closed from the inlet. Thereafter the volume of the chamber decreases and the air is compressed. When the pressure has reached the same level as the pressure in the outlet manifold, a valve is opened and the air is discharged at a constant pressure, under continued reduction of the compression chamber's volume. In dynamic compression air is drawn into a rapidly rotating compression impeller and accelerates to a high speed. The gas is then discharged through a diffuser, where the kinetic energy is transformed to static pressure. There are dynamic compressors with axial or radial flow. All are suitable for large volume rates of flow. Displacement compressors A bicycle pump is the simplest form of a displacement compressor, where air is drawn into a cylinder and is compressed by a moving piston. The piston compressor has the same operation principle, with a piston whose forward and backward movement is accomplished by a connecting rod and a rotating crankshaft. If only one side of the piston is used for compression this is called single acting. If both the piston's top and undersides are used
Compressed air systems consist of a number of major subsystems and components. Compressed air systems can be subdivided into the Supply and Demand side. The Supply side includes compressors, air treatment and primary storage. Major compressed air supply subsystems typically include the air intake, air compressor (fixed speed and/or variable speed), aftercooler, motor, controls, treatment equipment and accessories. Controls serve to adjust the amount of compressed air being produced to maintain constant system pressure and manage the interaction between system components. Air filters and air dryers remove moisture, oil and contaminants from the compressed air.
These units are basically oil cooled (with air cooled or water cooled oil coolers) where the oil seals the internal clearances. is a continuous duty. The reciprocating air compressor accomplishes this by a piston within a cylinder as the compressing and displacing element. For the latter control technique.the compressor is called double acting. bypassing a portion of the compressed air back to the suction. a slide valve is positioned in the casing. The rotary compressor. Rotary screw air compressors are easy to maintain and operate. pulse-free air output in a compact size with high output volume over a long life. air cooled or water cooled compressor package. Capacity control is achieved by varying speed in engine-driven units through fuel flow control. Compressors 100 hp and above are typically Rotary Screw or Centrifugal Compressors. Load reduction is achieved by unloading individual cylinders. the slide valve opens. Dynamic compressors A dynamic compressor is a flow machine where the pressure increase takes place at the same time as the air flows. after which the velocity of . Oil free rotary screw air compressors are available air cooled and water cooled and provides the same flexibility as oil flooded rotaries when oil free air is required. Rotary Screw Compressors Reciprocating air compressors are positive displacement machines. Capacity control for these compressors is accomplished by variable speed and variable compressor displacement. The most common rotary air compressor is the single stage helical or spiral lobe oil flooded screw air compressor. There are no valves. therefore. Rotary air compressors are positive displacement compressors. Single-stage compressors are generally used for pressures in the range of 70 psig to 100 psig. The pressure ratio is the relation between absolute pressure on the inlet and outlet sides. As the compressor capacity is reduced. The difference between the pressure on the inlet side and the pressure on the outlet side is a measurement of the compressor's work. Single-stage and two-stage reciprocating compressors are commercially available. Reciprocating Air Compressors Reciprocating air compressors are available either as aircooled or water-cooled in lubricated and non-lubricated configurations and provide a wide range of pressure and capacity selections. The reciprocating air compressor is single acting when the compressing is accomplished using only one side of the piston. These compressors consist of two rotors within a casing where the rotors compress the air internally. Typically this is accomplished by throttling the suction pressure to the cylinder or bypassing air either within or outside the compressor. meaning that they increase the pressure of the air by reducing its volume. Accordingly. Note that 1 HP ~ 4 CFM at 100 psi and that 1 to 50 HP are typically for reciprocating units. the working parts never experience extreme operating temperatures. Two-stage compressors are generally used for higher pressures in the range of 100 psig to 250 psig. The flowing air accelerates to a high velocity by means of the rotating blades. a machine that draws in air at atmospheric pressure and compresses it to 7 bar overpressure works with a pressure ratio of (7 + 1)/1 = 8. This means they are taking in successive volumes of air which is confined within a closed space and elevating this air to a higher pressure. A compressor using both sides of the piston is considered double acting. Since the cooling takes place right inside the compressor. Advantages of the rotary screw compressor include smooth. The oil free rotary screw air compressor utilizes specially designed air ends to compress air without oil in the compression chamber yielding true oil free air.
and 3. Air Quality The quality of the air is important to ensure that instrumentation will function properly and reliably. with an effective working pressure of 7 bar that theoretically requires 37% higher output for isentropic compression compared with isothermal compression. This in turn results in pulsation. The centrifugal compressors are well suited to large air flow rates. the isentropic process would have certain advantages. Depending on the main direction of the flow they are called radial or axial compressors. as this requires less work.01 ppm is generally specified. A practical method to reduce the heating of the air is to divide the compression into several stages. Therefore the isothermal process is preferred. Dew Point The dew point temperature or saturation temperature can be defined as the temperature at which condensation or moisture begins when moist air is cooled. How much you can gain by this is shown. the dew point of the mixture at elevated pressure will be higher than that of the same mixture at atmospheric pressure. On the other hand a displacement compressor is a machine with a constant capacity and a variable pressure. to then be compressed further. Examples of other differences are that a displacement compressor gives a higher pressure ratio even at a low speed. This will ensure that no condensation of water will occur anywhere in the system. The power requirement is at its lowest if each stage has the same pressure ratio. The air is cooled after each stage. Comparison The centrifugal compressor is a machine with a variable capacity and constant pressure.the air is transformed to pressure when it is forced to decelerate under expansion. If the compressed air could be used immediately. Under no circumstances should the dew point at line pressure exceed 2°C (35°F). Oil Content Oil free air is generally required for an instrument air system. for example. which means return flow in the compressor. condensation of water vapour on a polished metal surface that is slowly being chilled. In practice attempts are made to realize this process by cooling the air during compression.3. This also increases the efficiency. Adjusting the inlet guide vanes is the most common method to control capacity of a centrifugal compressor. adiabatic expansion. water vapour will start to condense at a higher temperature. unlike the more significantly higher speed centrifugal compressors. This temperature can be determined by observing. its ability to hold water is decreased. dynamic compressors have a characteristic where a small change in the working pressure results in a large change in the capacity. Each speed has an upper and lower capacity limit. as the pressure ratio in the first stage is reduced. When an air-water vapour mixture is compressed: 1. In comparison with displacement compressors. The upper limit means that the air flow velocity reaches sonic velocity. Compression in stages Theoretically air can be compressed isentropically or isothermally. By closing the guide vanes. The more stages the compression is divided into the closer the entire process gets to be isothermal compression. an oil content of less than 0. This can take place as a part of a reversible process. at its final temperature after compression. electrical resistivity and methods that depend on the hygroscopic properties of various materials. In cold climates. . In warmer climates the dew point temperature can be increased appropriately. In an oil free system. Indirect methods for measuring moisture include wet and dry bulb psychometry. a -40°C dew point is typically used. However there is an economic limit for how many stages a real installation can be designed with. noise and the risk for mechanical damage. The centrifugal air compressor is an oil free compressor by design. either visually or by a photoelectric cell. The lower limit means that the counter pressure is greater than the compressor's pressure build-up. The dew point at line pressure shall be at least 10°C (18°F) below the minimum local recorded ambient temperature. In is important that the dew point temperature be specified at the operating pressure of the instrument air system and not atmospheric pressure. The dew point required for an instrument air system is generally set by the minimum ambient temperature to which the instrument air system will be exposed. 2. The oil lubricated running gear is separated from the air by shaft seals and atmospheric vents. In reality the air can rarely be used directly without being cooled before use. The most important parameters in specifying air quality are: Dew Point Oil Content Particulate Temperature The Instrument Society of America sets quality standards for instrument air in ISA S7. volumetric flows and capacity are reduced.
Since the maximum capacity of an air compressor also always exceed the minimum air consumption in the system . Upon cooling the air temperature may be below its dew point.Where a instrument air consumer requires air with oil for lubrication purposes. Instrument air is generally filtered to remove particulate matter to a level less than 0. Watercooled after coolers are generally sized to achieve a 5. An air receiver is essential to every compressed air system to act as a buffer and a storage medium between the compressor and the consumption system. the greater the compressor efficiency.located near the compressor. Removal of these substances is important in order to achieve the desired air quality and to protect the compressor. often by using primitive strategies as on/off modulating or more advanced strategies as frequency drives and inverters. Temperature When any gas is compressed its temperature will increase. it is common in well-designed systems not to design the compressor for the maximum peek loads. The receiver ambient temperature is typically lower that the dew point of the air entering the receiver. Air-cooled after coolers are generally sized to achieve a 14°C to 17°C (25°F to 30°F) approach to the ambient air temperature. After the compressor the air is passed through an after cooler to reduce its temperature. Particulate Particulate in the air may plug the small passages in some valves and instruments.02 mg/m³ (size 100% < 0. There are in principal two different air receivers in a compressed air system: PRIMARY receiver . For and instrument air system this increase in temperature is undesirable. If contamination exists in the compressor intake area.the compressor must modulate its capacity during normal work. After coolers are generally water or air cooled. Inlet air filters are essential to remove grit and dust that are present in practically all plants. so a mechanical moisture separator is provided. In shorter periods the demand for compressed air may even exceed the maximum capacity of the compressor.01 micron). Air Receiver The air receiver is sized to store enough air to handle system demand surges. This causes moisture to condense inside the receiver. In addition. A receiver that is too small will result in a compressor that is constantly loaded which will shorten the life of the equipment. to allow time for moisture separation and to provide a reserve for orderly or emergency shutdown. Air receivers in compressed air systems serve the important purposes of equalizing the pressure variation from the start/stop and modulating sequence of the compressor storage of air volume equalizing the variation in consumption and demand from the system . A typical outlet temperature is a maximum of 40°C Inlet Air Filters Generally. after the after-cooler but before filtration and drying equipment SECONDARY receivers . These filters must be regularly inspected and replaced. since any solids in the air will cause wear on the moving parts. the air should be taken from an elevated or remote location free from contamination. individual oilers are installed specifically for the consumer.located close to points of larger intermittent air consumptions The maximum capacity of the compressor in welldesigned systems always exceeds the maximum mean air consumption of the system (maximum mean air consumption is the mean air consumption over some reasonable time). An automatic liquid drain device must always be furnished on an air receiver to dispose of any moisture. In fact. After Coolers The compression of air results in a rise in the temperature of the air. The receiver pressure is usually used for loading and unloading the compressor.5°C (10°F to 15°F) approach to the cooling water supply temperature.5°C to 8. the air consumption vary due to the process supported. Primitive modulating strategies cause more pressure variations in compressed air systems than more advanced strategies. After coolers are generally provided immediately after the compressor to cool the air and remove the heat of compression. the instrument air system intake should be located outside and in the coolest area. The lower the air intake temperature.
Oil and lubricants are most troublesome when they combine with moisture and solid contaminants to form a sludge that can clog instruments.p2) / C pa where V = volume of the receiver tank (cu ft) t = time for the receiver to go from upper to lower pressure limits (min) C = free air needed (scfm) pa= atmosphere pressure (14. or 4 gallons per compressor hp (horse power) Unit conversions: the variation in the consumption demand the compressor size and the modulation strategy In general it is possible to calculate the maximum consumption in the system by summarizing the demand of each consumer.1 . the pressure can drop 10 psig before the minimum requirement is met.1 depending on the system. Pressure and flow controllers can be used after the receiver for stabilizing downstream pressure to 100 psig and flattening demand peaks. The receiver volume may be calculated with the formula t = V (p1 . there is no storage and no buffer. It is important to dry the air prior to distribution to prevent problems in the system. Air Dryers Water in an instrument air system can cause rust in distribution pipes or freeze in exposed outdoor lines. Any increased demand makes a pressure drop below 100 psig until the compressor controls respond by increasing the volume compressed. note that it is necessary with a pressure band for the receiver to be effective. Oil can also contaminate desiccants in air dryers.785x10-3 m3 = 3.9 kPa = 0.7 psia) p1 = maximum tank pressure (psia) p2 = minimum tank pressure (psia) (1) . If the demand increases. If the compressors operate at 110 psig the difference between 110 psig and 100 psig accounts for the air stored in the receiver. aerosol (mist) and vapour form.) = 3. Oil filters are generally installed after the air receiver and before the air dryers.S. The summarized consumption must be multiplied with a 1 ft3 = 0. For calculating the receiver.In addition the receiver serve the purpose of It is also common to size receivers collecting condensate and water in the air after the compressor Sizing the Air Receiver The air receiver must in general be sized according to 1 gallon for each ACFM (Actual Cubic Feet per Minute). In practice it is common that the manufacturer use standardized receivers for specific compressor models based on their know-how.785 dm3 (liter) = 231 in3 Oil Filters Oil and lubricants are major contaminants in instrument air systems.4 mm 1 psig = 6.069 bar 1 Gallon (U. Air drying is generally done in one of two ways: a) Heatless Regenerative Desiccant Dryers b) Heat Regenerative Desiccant Dryers c) Refrigerated Dryers Heatless Regenerative Desiccant Dryers usage factor ranging 0. If the consumption process requires 100 psig and the compressor is set to 100 psig. Note that in a compressed air system the pipe work also makes the purpose of a buffered volume.02832 m3 1 inch = 25. They enter the air stream in liquid. These filters will generally be installed in a duplex fashion allowing one filter to be maintained while the other is in operation.
d) = 35. heated by an electric or steam heater passes through the desiccant bed removing the water from the adsorbent and regenerating the bed. FAD Free air delivery is the volume of air delivered under the conditions of temperature and pressure existing at the compressor intake. It must be defined further to take account of pressure. Thus.a. The units for FAD are CFM in the imperial system and l/min in the SI system. At the same time.d) = 1000 dm3/min (f.a. the second tower is off line being regenerated by a portion (approximately 10 to 20%) of the dry discharge air. After filters are required on all instrument air systems. This is the actual volume flow rate in the pipework after the compressor. The purge valve (V3 or V4) will close so that the off-line tower is allowed to re-pressurize. 20oC and 65% RH (Relative Humidity).Heatless regenerative dryers utilize the principle that expansion of a compressed gas from a high pressure to a low pressure reduces the partial pressure of all constituents in a proportion equal to the ratio of absolute pressure change.d) = 1000 liter/min (f.a.d) = 16. refrigeration type dryers are capable of achieving a dew point temperature of 1.a. Common terminologies in compressor rating are: CFM CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) is the imperial method of describing the volume flow rate of compressed air. a water saturated adsorbent will give up its water vapour to a lower vapour pressure environment. the lower the water vapours content.d) is the actual quantity of compressed air at the discharge of the compressor. Simultaneously. temperature and relative humidity .7 dm3/s (f.a. ACFM ACFM (Actual CFM) rating is used to measure air flow in CFM at some reference point at local conditions. 0oC and 0% RH (Relative Humidity). After Filters The after filter provides final cleaning of the compressed air stream by removing particulate matter from the dryer discharge. the flow valves (V1 and V2) will divert the drying air flow to the previously off-line tower. These filters will generally be installed in a duplex fashion allowing one filter to be maintained while the other is in operation. particularly desiccant-type dryers to prevent desiccant dust from passing downstream. The heatless dryer works by passing compressed air through a tower filled with desiccant.d) ANR ANR (Atmosphere Normale de Reference) is quantity of air at conditions 1.if air conditions is not given. ICFM ICFM (Inlet CFM) rating is used to measure air flow in CFM (ft3/min) as it enters the air compressor intake .d) = 16.see below.01325 bar absolute. The disadvantage of heatless type regenerative desiccant dryers is the loss of a portion of dry air used to regenerate the desiccant bed. Moisture from the air stream is adsorbed onto the desiccant thereby producing dry outlet air.4 psia. a purge valve (V3 or V4) allows the regenerating air flow entering the off-line tower to escape and thereby purge the moisture adsorbed from the desiccant to the atmosphere. Hot air. nl/min nl/min is the flow in l/min measured at some reference point but converted to standard air conditions 1. Typical.7°C. After re-pressurization is complete.a. Once the regeneration process is complete the off-line tower is re-pressurized to prevent fluidization of the desiccant bed. 1 m3/min (f. SCFM SCFM (Standard CFM) is the flow in CFM measured at some reference point but converted back to standard air conditions (Standard Reference Atmosphere) 14. The units are measured according the ambient inlet standard conditions ISO 1217 .01325 bar absolute. Heat Regenerative Dryers Heat regenerative dryers utilize the principle that a hot gas can hold a larger amount of water vapour than a gas at a lower temperature. In practice this is achieved by taking a portion of the high pressure dry air and expanding it to essentially atmospheric pressure and passing it through the desiccant bed to strip off the water content.1 bar abs and 20oC. a water saturated adsorbent will give up its water to a gas at a higher temperature. The sequence is repeated continuously ensuring a constant supply of dry air to the system. Refrigerated Dryers Refrigeration type dryers utilize the principle that the lower the dry bulb temperature of the air.0332 kg/cm square abs & 15 degree centigrate. Thus.This generally taken as 1. FAD (Free Air Delivery) (f. This operation is controlled by valves (V1 and V2) which divert the flow of air to the on-line tower and away from the regenerating tower.26 ft3/min (f.a. . a purge valve (V3 or V4) will open allowing the previously on-line tower to depressurize and begin regeneration.7 l/s (f. 60oF. While one tower is on line performing the drying function.
Reciprocating compressors are designed as two-step (start/stop or load/unload). These control schemes generally exhibit an almost direct relationship between motor power consumption and loaded capacity. the compression ratios are increased so that energy savings are somewhat limited. cooling air/water 20oC. 25%. a simple pressure switch provides the motor start/stop signal.temperature 20oC.ISO 1217 standard reference ambient conditions . Modulating Controls Modulating (throttling) inlet control allows the output of a compressor to be varied to meet flow requirements. Some lubricant-injected rotary screw compressors can vary their compression volumes (ratio) using sliding or turn valves. is an inefficient means of varying compressor output. allows the motor to run continuously. compressor manufacturers have developed a number of different types of control strategies. but unloads the compressor when the discharge pressure is adequate. Since the pressure at the compressor inlet is reduced while discharge pressure is rising slightly. Inlet valve modulation used on lubricant injected rotary air compressors allows compressor capacity to be adjusted to match demand. This control method cannot be used on reciprocating or lubricant-free rotary screw compressors. Start/Stop Start/stop is the simplest control available and can be applied to either reciprocating or rotary screw compressors. When used on centrifugal compressors. particularly with the use of inlet guide vanes which direct the air in the same direction as the impeller rotation. 50%. Controls such as start/ stop and load/unload respond to reductions in air demand. pressure 1 bar abs. Inlet valve modulation normally is limited to the range from 100% to about 40% of rated capacity. the compressor can fully unload as previously described in a compressor using load/unload control. Individual Compressor Control Strategies Over the years. an unloaded rotary screw compressor will consume 15– 35% of full-load horsepower while delivering no useful work. some load/unload control schemes can be inefficient. These are generally applied in conjunction with modulating inlet valves to provide more accurate pressure control with improved part-load efficiency. 100 %) control. This type of control should not be used in an application that has frequent cycling because repeated starts will cause the motor to overheat and other compressor components to require more frequent maintenance. At this point. 100%) or five-step (0%. and when applied to lubricant- injected rotary screw compressors. Variable Displacement Some compressors are designed to operate in two or more partially-loaded conditions. auto dual control provides modulation to a pre-set reduced capacity followed by unloading with the addition of an over-run timer to stop the compressor after running unloaded for a pre-set time. Modulating inlet and multistep controls allow the compressor to operate at part-load and deliver a reduced amount of air during periods of reduced demand. Its advantage is that power is used only while the compressor is running. but this is offset by having to compress to a higher receiver pressure to allow air to be drawn from the receiver while the compressor is stopped. and working pressure at outlet 7 bar absolute. output pressure can be closely controlled without requiring the compressor to start/stop or load/unload. also known as constant speed control. at which point the discharge pressure will have reached full load pressure plus 10 psi and it is assumed that demand is insufficient to require continued air discharge to the system. With such a control scheme. 75%. hence. However. 50%. For lubricant-injected rotary screw compressors. As a result. This control scheme is applied to centrifugal and lubricantinjected rotary screw compressors. reducing the inlet pressure at the compressor and. thereby restricting inlet air to the compressor. the amount of capacity reduction is limited by the potential for surge and minimum throttling capacity. Closing (or throttling) the inlet valve causes a pressure drop across it. This control scheme is typically only used for applications with very low duty cycles for compressors in the 25 horsepower and under range. three-step (0%. but in most cases. Load/Unload Load/unload control. Compressor manufacturers use different strategies for unloading a compressor. relative humidity 0%. more efficient results are obtained. Dual Control/Auto Dual For small reciprocating compressors. The motor driving the compressor is turned on or off in response to the discharge pressure of the machine. Typically. dual control allows the selection of either start/stop or load/unload. increasing compressor discharge pressure by turning the compressor off or unloading it so that it does not deliver air for periods of time. A regulating valve senses system or discharge pressure over a prescribed range (usually about 10 psi) and sends a proportional pressure to operate the inlet valve. . Throttling is usually accomplished by closing the inlet valve. the mass flow of air.
The actual efficiency also may fall at lower speeds. it will be unloaded. Electric motors and controllers are currently available to satisfy these needs. the input torque requirement would remain constant. Compressors equipped with variable speed drive controls continuously adjust the drive motor speed to match variable demand requirements. unlike the requirement of dynamic compressors. it is important to note that with constant discharge pressure. allowing additional system energy savings. In a positive displacement rotary compressor. throttled or the compressor displacement will be varied in applications where the demand for air changes over time. using integrated variable frequency AC or switched reluctance DC drives. Depending on the control scheme used. if efficiency remained constant over the speed range. In some cases. Compressor discharge pressure can be held to within +/-1 psi over a wide range of capacity.Variable Speed Drives Variable speed is accepted as an efficient means of rotary compressor capacity control. the displacement is directly proportional to the rotational speed of the input shaft of the air end. these control methodologies can be an inefficient way to vary compressor output. fans or pumps. requiring an increase in torque. However. Rotary screw compressors with fixed-speed drives can only be stopped and started a certain number of times within a given time frame. instead of stopping the compressor. . but their efficiency and power factor at reduced speeds must be taken into consideration.