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A machine providing gas at high pressure is called a compressor and work must be done upon the gas by external agency. Since the process of compressing the gas requires that work should be done upon it, it will be clear that compressor must be driven by some form of prime mover.

Fig 1.1: General Arrangement of a Compressor Set Fig. shows schematically the general arrangement of compressor set of the energy received by the compressor from the prime mover, some will be absorbed in work done against friction and some will be last to radiation and any coolant employed to cool the compressor and the rest will be maintained within the deliver gas, at high pressure. The prime mover converts only a fraction of the heat it receives from the source into work, and so far as a compressor alone is concerned, the energy which it receives is that which is available at the shaft of the prime mover.

1.1 MAIN COMPONENTS OF COMPRESSED AIR SYSTEMS Compressed air systems consist of following major components: Intake air filters, inter-stage coolers, after-coolers, air-dryers, moisture drain traps, receivers, piping network, filters, regulators and lubricators (see Figure 1.2).

Intake Air Filters: Prevent dust from entering a compressor; Dust causes sticking valves, scoured cylinders, excessive wear etc.

Inter-stage Coolers: Reduce the temperature of the air before it enters the next stage to reduce the work of compression and increase efficiency. They are normally water-cooled.

After-Coolers: The objective is to remove the moisture in the air by reducing the temperature in a water-cooled heat exchanger.

Air- dryers: The remaining traces of moisture after after-cooler are removed using air dryers, as air for instrument and pneumatic equipment has to be relatively free of any moisture. The moisture is removed by using

adsorbents like silica gel /activated carbon, or refrigerant dryers, or heat of compression dryers.

Figure 1.2: Types of Compressor Components Moisture Drain Trap s: Moisture drain traps are used for removal of moisture in the compressed air. These traps resemble steam traps. Various types of traps used are manual drain cocks, timer based / automatic drain valves etc.

Receivers: Air receivers are provided as storage and smoothening pulsating air output - reducing pressure variations from the compressor

1.2 TYPES OF COMPRESSORS As shown in Figure 1.3, there are two basic compressor types: positivedisplacement and dynamic. In the positive-displacement type, a given quantity of 3

air or gas is trapped in a compression chamber and the volume it occupies is mechanically reduced, causing a corresponding rise in pressure prior to discharge. At constant speed, the air flow remains essentially constant with variations in discharge pressure. Dynamic compressors impart velocity energy to continuously flowing air or gas by means of impellers rotating at very high speeds. The velocity energy is changed into pressure energy both by the impellers and the discharge volutes or diffusers. In the centrifugal-type dynamic compressors, the shape of the impeller blades determines the relationship between air flow and the pressure (or head) generated.

Figure 1.3: Types of Compressors

A. Positive Displacement Compressor

These compressors are available in two types: reciprocating and rotary.

a) Reciprocating compressor

In industry, reciprocating compressors are the most widely used type for both air and refrigerant compression (see Figure 4). They work on the principles of a 4

bicycle pump and are characterized by a flow output that remains nearly constant over a range of discharge pressures. Also, the compressor capacity is directly proportional to the speed. The output, however, is a pulsating one.

Figure 1.4: A Cross-Sectional View of a Reciprocating Compressor Reciprocating compressors are available in many configurations, the four most widely used are horizontal, vertical, and horizontal balance-opposed and tandem. Vertical type reciprocating compressors are used in the capacity range of 50150cfm. Horizontal balance opposed compressors are used in the capacity range of 200 5000cfm in multi-stage design and up to 10,000cfm in single stage designs (National Productivity Council, 1993). The reciprocating air compressor is considered single acting when the compressing is accomplished using only one side of the piston. A compressor using both sides of the piston is considered double acting. A compressor is considered to be single stage when the entire compression is accomplished with a single cylinder or a group of cylinders in parallel. Too great a compression ratio (absolute discharge pressure/absolute intake pressure) may cause excessive discharge temperature or other design problems. Two stage machines are

used for high pressures and are characterized by

lower discharge temperature (140

to 160o C) compared to single-stage machines (205 to 240oC). For practical purposes most plant air reciprocating air compressors over 100 horsepower are built as multi-stage units in which two or more steps of compression are grouped in series. The air is normally cooled between the stages to reduce the temperature and volume entering the following stage. (National Productivity Council, 1993). Reciprocating air compressors are available either as air-cooled or watercooled in lubricated and non- lubricated configurations, may be packaged, and provide a wide range of pressure and capacity selections.
b) Rotary compressor

Rotary compressors have rotors in place of pistons and give a continuous pulsation free discharge. They operate at high speed and generally provide higher throughput than reciprocating compressors. Their capital costs are low, they are compact in size, have low weight, and are easy to maintain. For this popularity reason they have gained

with industry. They are most commonly used in sizes from about 30 to

200hp or 22 to 150 kW.

Fig 1.5: View of Screw compressor

Types of rotary compressors include:

Lobe compressor (roots blower) Screw compressor (rotary screw of helical-lobe, where male and female screw rotors moving in opposite directions and trap air, which is compressed as it moves forward, see Figure 6)

Rotary vane / sliding- vane, liquid-ring, and scroll-type

Rotary screw compressors may be air or water-cooled. Since the cooling takes place right inside the compressor, the working parts never experience extreme operating temperatures. The rotary compressor, therefore, is a continuous duty, air cooled or water cooled compressor package. Because of the simple design and few wearing parts, rotary screw air compressors are easy to maintain, operate and provide great installation flexibility. Rotary air compressors can be installed on any surface that will support the static weight.

B. Dynamic Compressors The centrifugal air compressor (see Figure 1.6 ) is a dynamic compressor, which depends on transfer of energy from a rotating impeller to the air. The rotor accomplishes this by changing the momentum and pressure of the air. This momentum is converted to useful pressure by slowing the air down in a stationary diffuser. The centrifugal air compressor is an oil free compressor by design. The oil lubricated running gear is separated from the air by shaft seals and atmospheric vents. The centrifugal is a continuous duty compressor, with few moving parts, that is particularly suited to high volume applications -especially where oil free air is required. Centrifugal air compressors are water-cooled and may be packaged; typically the package includes the after-cooler and all controls. These compressors have appreciably different characteristics as compared to reciprocating machines.

Fig 1.6: Centrifugal Compressor A small change in compression ratio produces a marked change in compressor output and efficiency. Centrifugal machines are better suited for applications requiring very high capacities, typically above 12,000cfm. Application wise selection criteria of different types of compressors are given in the following table.

Table 1.1: General Selection Criteria of Compressors

Item Efficiency at full load Efficiency at part load Efficiency at no load (power as % of full load) Noise level Size Oil carry over Vibration Maintenance Reciprocating High High due to to staging High (10% 25%) Noisy Large Moderate High Many wearing parts Low - high Medium - very high Rotary Vane Medium - high Poor: below 60% of full load Medium (30% - 40%) Quiet Compact Low- medium Almost none Few wearing parts Low - medium Low - medium Rotary Screw High Poor: below 60% of full load High-Poor (25% 60%) Quiet-if enclosed Compact Low Almost none Very few wearing parts Low - medium Medium - high ow - high Centrifugal High Poor: below 60% of full load High-Medium (20% - 30%) Quiet Compact Low Almost none Sensitive to dust in air Medium - high Medium - high

Capacity Pressure

Table 1.2. A High-level Comparison of important Compressor Types

2.1 THEORY A. Gas Laws By definition, compressors are intended to compress a substance in a gaseous state. In predicting compressor performance and calculating the loads on the various components, we need methods to predict the properties of the gas. Process compressors are used to compress a wide range of gases over a wide range of conditions. There is no single equation of state (an equation that allows the density of a gas to be calculated if the pressure and temperature are known) that will be accurate for all gases under all conditions. Some of the commonly used ones, starting with the most simple, are discussed below. The simplest equation of state is the perfect gas law:

This equation applies accurately only to gases when the temperature is much higher than the critical temperature or the pressure much lower than the critical pressure. Air at atmospheric conditions obeys this law well. To predict the properties of real gases more accurately, the perfect gas law is often modified by the addition of an empirical value Z, called the compressibility, or sometimes the super compressibility, of the gas. The value of Z is a function of the gas composition and the pressure and temperature of the gas. The modified equation is:

This equation is accurate if, and only if, Z is known accurately. Z can be estimated with reasonable accuracy in many cases using the Law of Corresponding 10

States which states that the value of Z as a function of the reduced pressure and temperature is approximately the same for all gases. B. Thermodynamic Laws For calculating compressor cycles, the energy equation, relationships applying to an isentropic change of state, and the law for uid ow through a restriction are needed. The Energy equation for a xed mass of gas states simply that the increase of energy of the gas equals the work done on the gas minus the heat transferred from the gas to the surroundings. For the conditions in a compressor, we can ignore changes in potential and chemical energy. In applications where the energy equation for a xed mass of gas is used, we can usually also ignore changes in kinetic energy. The energy equation then reduces to:

C. Compression Cycles The work supplied to a compressor goes to increasing the pressure of the gas, to increasing the temperature of the gas and to any heat transferred out of the compressor. In most cases, the requirement is to increase the pressure of the gas using the least possible power. If the compression process is adiabatic, that is, there is no heat transfer between the compressor and the outside, then the least work will be done if the process is isentropic. This implies that there are no losses in the compressor and which is an unachievable goal, but one that can be used as a base for the compression efciency. The isentropic efciency of a compressor is dened as the work required to compress the gas in an isentropic process divided by the actual work used to compress the gas. The efciency of a compressor is most often given as the isentropic efciency. However, it is possible to construct a compressor with an isentropic efciency greater than 100%. The work done in a reversible isothermal process is less than that 11

done in an isentropic process. In a reversible isothermal process, the temperature of the gas is maintained at the suction temperature by reversible heat transfer as the compression proceeds. There must, of course, be no losses in this process. Many compressors have a nal discharge temperature that is much lower than the isentropic discharge temperature, and the power required is reduced by this. However, the power required is almost always still greater than the isentropic power and so the isentropic efciency is universally used to rank compressors. D. Ideal Positive Displacement Compressor Cycle As an example of a positive displacement compressor, consider a reciprocating compressor cylinder

compressing gas from a suction pressure PS to a discharge pressure PD. In compressor is

terminology, the ratio

known as the compression ratio. This can be contrasted to reciprocating terminology where engine the

compression ratio is a ratio of volumes. For a reciprocating compressor, the ideal

compression cycle is as shown on Fig. 1.2. The cycle is shown on pressure against crank angle and pressure against cylinder Fig 2.1: Ideal Compressor Cycle

volume coordinates. The cycle can be explained starting at point 1. This represents the point when the piston is at the dead center position that gives the maximum cylinder volume. The gas in the cylinder is at the suction pressure Ps.


As the piston moves to decrease the cylinder volume, the mass of gas trapped in the cylinder is compressed and its pressure and temperature rise. In the ideal case, there is no friction and no heat transfer and so the change is isentropic and the change of pressure and temperature can be calculated from the known change of volume using the above equations for isentropic change of state. At point 2, the pressure has increased to equal the discharge pressure. In the ideal compressor, the discharge valve will open at this point and there will be no pressure loss across the valve. As the piston moves to further decrease the cylinder volume, the gas in the cylinder is displaced into the discharge line and the pressure in the cylinder remains constant. At point 3, the piston has reached the end of its travel, the cylinder is at its minimum volume and the discharge valve closes. As the piston reverses and moves to increase the cylinder volume, the gas that was trapped in the clearance volume (sometimes called the xed clearance) at point 3, expands and its pressure and temperature decrease. Again there are no losses or heat transfer and the change of pressure and temperature can be calculated using the expressions for isentropic change of state. At point 4, the pressure has decreased to again equal the suction pressure. The suction valve opens at this point. As the piston moves to further increase the cylinder volume, gas is drawn into the cylinder through the suction valve. When the piston again reaches the dead center, point 1, the cylinder volume is at its maximum, the suction valve closes, and the cycle repeats. The work required per cycle and hence the horsepower required to drive the compressor can easily be calculated from the pressure against volume diagram or from the temperature rise across the compressor. The work done on the gas during a small time interval during which the cylinder volume changes by dV is equal to P dV and the work done during one compressor cycle is the integral of this for the cycle. That is, the work done equals the area of the cycle diagram on pressure against volume axes (Fig. 8). Note that the equivalence of work done per cycle and diagram area holds for real as well as ideal cycles. That is, the magnitude of losses that cause a horsepower requirement increase can be measured off the indicator card as the pressure vs. volume 13

plot is often called. (If the pressure on the indicator card is in psi and the volume in cubic inches, the work done as given by the card area will be in inch lb. and must be divided by 12 to give the work done in ft. lb.) Once the work done per cycle is known, the horsepower can be calculated. If the work done is in ft. lb., and the speed in rpm:

E. Ideal Dynamic Compressor Cycle In a dynamic compressor, the moving part increases the velocity of the gas and the resulting kinetic energy is converted into pressure energy. Typically, both processes occur simultaneously in the rotating element and the gas leaves the rotor at higher pressure and with a higher velocity than it entered. Some of the kinetic energy is then converted into pressure energy in the stator by means of a diffusion process, that is, ow through a diverging channel. If we ignore the effects of heat transfer, the steady ow energy equation states that the increase in stagnation enthalpy for ow in the rotor equals the work done. As there is no work done on the gas in the stator, the stagnation enthalpy remains constant. These relationships are true regardless of the efciency of the process. In a completely inefcient process, the temperature of the gas will be increased, but the pressure will not. In an efcient process, the pressure of the gas will be increased as well as the temperature. For a compressor with no losses and no heat transfer, the process will be isentropic. The increase in enthalpy for compression from a given initial pressure and temperature to a given nal pressure can be obtained from a Mollier chart, or from an equation of state. For an ideal gas, it can be calculated as follows.


The isentropic efciency which is the work required for an isentropic compression divided by the actual work can be calculated as:

It is sometimes considered that any excess kinetic energy in the discharge gas over that of the inlet gas is also a useful output of the compressor. It can, after all, be recovered in a diffuser. In this case, the actual stagnation enthalpies should be used and:

2.2 COMPRESSOR PERFORMANCE A. Positive Displacement Compressors Positive displacement compressors all work on the same principle and have the same loss mechanisms. However, the relative magnitude of the different losses will be different in each type. For example, leakage losses will be low in a lubricated reciprocating compressor with good piston rings, but may be signicant in a dry screw unit, especially if the speed is low and the pressure increase, high. Cooling of the gas, which is benecial, will be small in a reciprocating compressor, but may be almost complete in a liquid ooded screw compressor. All compressor types have a clearance volume that contains gas at the discharge pressure at the end of the discharge process. This volume may be small in some designs and signicant in others. Some types, for example reciprocating compressors may have a large clearance volume, but recover the work done on this gas by expanding it back to suction pressure in the cylinder; other types, for example screw compressors, let the gas in the clearance space expand back to suction pressure without recovering the work. 15

Some compressor types, specically those that use xed ports for the discharge, are designed to operate at a xed volume ratio. (For a given gas, this is equivalent to a xed pressure ratio.) As the ratio varies from this value, the compressor efciency will be less than the optimum. Other compressor types use either ports that can be varied with slides or they use pressure actuated valves. These types are optimized at any pressure ratio. The following discussion deals specically with the application of reciprocating compressors, but similar considerations apply to other types. B. Reciprocating Compressor Rating Each component in a compressor frame and cylinder has design limits. To ensure that these are not exceeded in operation, each frame and each cylinder has a design rating above which it may not be used. The loads used to rate compressors are discussed below. Every cylinder has a maximum allowable discharge pressure. All compressor components are subjected to alternating loads and the rated pressure of a cylinder will be based on fatigue considerations. Every cylinder has a minimum clearance it can be built with. This controls the volumetric efciency of the cylinder and hence the capacity for a given pressure ratio and gas composition. The clearance of a cylinder can usually be increased if the maximum capacity is not needed for a given application. Every cylinder has a xed number of valves and valve size. A cylinder with a few or small valves for its size will have high losses and will give poor efciency if used at its normal piston speed when compressing a high molecular weight gas, especially if the pressure ratio is small. Each cylinder exerts a rod load on the running gear components, and a frame load on the stationary components. These can be evaluated by considering the forces acting on the various components (Fig. 2.1).


where, PHE and PCE = Pressure in the Head End and Crank End of the Cylinder AP and ARod = The Area of the Piston and Piston Rod

The frame load will vary through the cycle as the pressures in the head end and crank end of the cylinder vary. The maximum tensile and the maximum compressive stresses are calculated. These are the loads the stationary components and bolting must be designed to resist. The rod load, the force exerted on the piston rod, crosshead, crosshead pin, connecting rod and crankshaft is different for each component. It is the frame load plus the inertia of all the parts outboard of the component that is of interest. For example, the rod load at the crosshead pin, the value that is usually calculated, is the frame load plus the inertia of the piston with rings, the piston rod and the crosshead.

Fig 2.2: Frame and Rod Loads The inertia is the mass times the piston acceleration, and varies through the cycle. The rod load quoted is usually the maximum value, compression or tension, at the crosshead pin. The crosshead pin bearings do not see full rotary motion. Rather the connecting rod oscillates through a fairly small arc. This makes lubrication of these 17

bearings difcult as a hydrodynamic lm is never generated. The bearing relies on a squeeze lm being formed. This requires that the load change direction from compressive to tensile and back every revolution. Once the rod load diagram has been calculated, the degrees of reversal, that is the lesser of the number of degrees of crankshaft rotation that the rod load is compressive and the number of degrees it is tensile, is known. The minimum acceptable number of degrees of reversal depends on the details of the design and will be available for each frame. Each frame will also be limited by the power that can be transmitted through the crankshaft at a given speed. There will be a limit on the power of each throw and a higher limit on the total power of the compressor. Note that the total compressor power is all transmitted through the crankshaft web closest to the driver.

2.3 RECIPROCATING COMPRESSORS A. Compressor Valves The compressor valves are the most critical component in a reciprocating compressor because of their effect on the efciency (horsepower and capacity) and reliability of the compressor. Compressor valves are nothing more than check valves, but they are required to operate reliably for about a billion cycles, with opening and closing times measured in milliseconds, with no leakage in the reverse ow direction and with low pressure loss in the forward ow direction. To make matters worse, they are frequently expected to operate in highly corrosive, dirty gas, while covered in sticky deposits. Compressor valves affect performance due to the pressure drop caused by ow through the valve; the leakage through the valve in the reverse direction; and the fact that the valves do not close exactly when an ideal valve would. Typical valve dynamics are shown in Fig. 2.4. Note that: a) due to its inertia, the valve does not open instantaneously; b) due to the springing, the valve does not 18

stay at full lift for the full time it is open; and c) the valve does not close exactly at the dead center. All of these factors affect both the capacity and the power of the compressor. A simple method of calculating the power loss due to the pressure drop across the valve was given in the section on theory. However, this assumed that the valve was at full lift for the entire time gas was owing through it. For a more accurate estimate of the power loss, the weighted average valve lift should be used. This can be calculated from the valve lift diagram, Fig. 2.4.

Fig 2.3: Typical Valve Dynamics Diagram Obviously, the average lift is less than the full lift and so the average valve ow area is less than the full lift ow area. Fortuitously, that method also contains an error that makes it overestimate the power loss and in many cases it gives a good estimate of the true loss. One assumption of that method is that the gas is incompressible. That is, it is assumed that at valve opening, the pressure loss increases instantaneously to the value calculated from the piston velocity. In fact, due to the compressible nature of the gas and as shown in Fig. 12, the pressure drop rises gradually from zero at the instant the valve opens. 19

As the valve takes a nite time to open because of its inertia, the pressure drop, after initially being less than that estimated by the simple theory, then overshoots. These effects, taken with the fact that the valve starts to close well before the end of the stroke, because offsetting errors. The power losses caused by the valves are well known. The effects of the valves on the capacity of the compressor are less obvious, but equally important. The valves affect the capacity in three ways. As the valves never close exactly at the dead center, the amount of gas trapped in the cylinder is never that predicted from simple theory. The springs in a compressor valve should be designed to close the valve at about the dead center. In practice, the exact closing angle will vary as the conditions of service vary and will depend on how strongly the moving parts of the valve adhere to their stops. This will depend on the amount and nature of liquids and deposits on the valve. For the suction process, the cylinder volume when the valves close is smaller than the maximum cylinder volume so less gas is trapped in the cylinder and compressed. Note that either too heavy a spring, which causes the valve to close early, or too light a spring which causes the valve to close late, will reduce the capacity. For the discharge process, the cylinder volume when the valve closes is larger than the minimum cylinder volume, and the mass of gas is larger than the ideal. This extra gas is re-expanded to suction conditions instead of being discharged at high pressure.

Fig 2.4: Valve Opening and Closing 20

The gas is heated by the loss associated with ow through the suction valve. This causes the gas trapped in the cylinder when the valve closes to be at a temperature higher than the suction gas temperature. Thus the density is reduced and less gas is trapped in the cylinder to be compressed. The temperature rise can be discussed with reference to Fig 2.6. Consider a particle of suction gas at condition s throttled through the suction valve to condition 5, the pressure in the cylinder at that time. From the steady ow energy equation, with no work done and any heat transfer neglected, this is a process at constant enthalpy. For an ideal gas, it will be at constant temperature. As the piston slows down towards the end of the stroke, the valve pressure drop declines and the pressure in the cylinder increases. The particle of gas we are considering is compressed isentropically from condition 5 to condition 1 with consequent temperature rise.

Fig 2.5: Effect of Valve Loss on Capacity 1. The valve pressure drop, if it is large, can directly affect the capacity loss. This occurs if the valve equivalent area is so small relative to the application that 21

the gas cannot ow in through the suction valves fast enough to ll the cylinder. 2. The pressure at the end of the suction stroke will then be less than the suction pressure and the amount of gas compressed will be reduced.

Fig 2.6: Effect of Piston Ring Leakage

Fig 2.7: Effect of Internal Heat Transfer


3.1 RECIPROCATING PISTON COMPRESSOR COMPONENTS A reciprocating piston compressor can come in two basic configurations. The simplest is a piston in a cylinder, directly driven from a crankshaft by a connecting rod attached to the piston by a wrist pin. This single acting (trunk type) piston can only compress gas on one face, and any leakage past the rings will vent into the crankcase. This can be hazardous with explosive, corrosive or poisonous gases, so this type of compressor is limited to applications where costs or simplicity are primary, such as shop air compressors. The illustration below shows a double acting compressor cylinder. In this case, the crankshaft drives a connecting rod which transmits force through a crosshead pin to a crosshead (similar to a trunk piston), moving in a slide. This converts the eccentric motion of the connecting rod to a pure linear force. A

compressor rod connected to the crosshead transmits force to the compressor piston.

Fig 3.1: Engine Driven Double Acting Compressor Cylinder


In this case, the cylinder can be sealed on both ends, with the rod passing through a packing case to seal gas from leaking. This cylinder then can compress gas on both faces. By adding a vented space between the cylinder and crosshead, any leakage from the cylinder can be vented to a safe location, allowing handling of hazardous gases.

Fig 3.2: Air Compressor Lexicon 24

3.1.1 Cylinder and Ends The compressor cylinder is a casting or forging designed to safely contain some maximum working pressure. It is machined to hold compressor valves and to direct gas flow to and from the cylinder cavity. In combination with the cylinder ends, it must contain the gas pressure, while having sufficiently large gas flow passages so there are minimal pressure drops due to gas flow.

Fig 3.3: Cylinder Head The cylinder and ends may also have water passages to stabilize temperature and dimensional changes. All these requirements involve compromises between size, strength, and flow passage size (efficiency). Compressor cylinders are designed for some operating range and service. If conditions change, they may not perform reliably or efficiently. As an example, a cylinder for gas transmission has large flow passages and valve areas for efficiency at high gas volumes and low pressure ratios, and will not function at high ratios. Similarly, a process cylinder may be a forging with small passages, giving higher strength but low efficiency.


3.1.2 Piston/Rings

Fig 3.4: Variations of Piston in Mechanical Devices The compressor piston converts the energy/work supplied by the engine, applying it to the gas to raise its pressure. The piston must be strong enough to withstand the pressures and forces applied, but still be as light as possible, to minimize reciprocating weights and the resulting shaking forces.

Fig 3.5: Compressor Piston The compressor rings seal gas pressure to avoid leaking from one side of the piston to the other. The piston may also be fitted with a rider band, which is a low friction material to keep the metal piston from contacting the bore of the cylinder and causing scuffing and wear. Material for the rings and rider bands is selected to give long life and minimal wear with the typical pressures and gas composition of the compressor.


Fig 3.6: Piston Rings Special Aluminum alloy pistons for non-lubricated air compressor and graded cast iron pistons are for lubricated models. Piston Rings are used for sealing to cylinder. Alloy Steel piston rods fitted with wear resistant packing rings of antifriction type to prevent any possibility of compressed air leakage. While this is generally a low friction thermoplastic type material, rings may be made of bronze or other materials when temperatures are a problem. 3.1.3 Valves Compressor valves are simply fast acting check valves with a low pressure drop. They must be optimized to balance the opposing demands for long operating life and minimal pressure drop/flow losses. They may also have special features such as center ports to allow cylinder unloading.

Fig 3.7: Valve Detail Reciprocating Air Compressor 27

The compressor valve is possibly the most critical component when determining the requirements for a compressor service. The flow area is sensitive, as too small an area will give low efficiency, but too large an area can result in valve flutter and early failure. Similarly, valve components must be designed for the expected pressure and temperature conditions. Valves have been designed with many configurations, particularly in the sealing elements. These have progressed through steel, Bakelite, glass filled Teflon or Nylon, and high strength plastics. The most popular designs for sealing elements are ring shaped strips, mushroom shaped poppets, and straight channel strips.

Plate Type Valves/Single Deck

Poppet Type Valve/Double Deck

Fig 3.8: Typical Compressor Valve Configurations - Cross Sections The design of compressor valves includes a number of variations to accommodate cylinder flow and unloading requirements. The simplest is a single deck valve, shown on the left above, where gas flows into passages in one face, across the sealing elements, and out through passages in the back face of the valve. A modification of this design is to have a large opening in the center of the valve. This allows adding a cylinder deactivator or clearance volume to the cylinder. This added feature comes at the expense of reduced flow area and efficiency. To compensate for this, two valves may be assembled together with a flow passage 28

through the center. This double deck valve design has improved flow area and efficiency. This type of valve can only be used in a cylinder designed to accept its increased height.

3.1.4 Packing The compressor packing is a series of pressure containing rings located in the crank end of a double acting compressor cylinder. These seal against the piston rod and prevent leakage, so that the cylinder can compress gas on both sides of the piston. Again, as with compressor rings, the packing material is selected to provide best life and sealing with expected conditions.

Fig 3.9: Cylinder Pressure Packing The packing is generally pressure lubricated, and may have coolant flow to remove friction heat. There are also various specialty types to reduce gas leakage around the rod. This may be important when compressing highly flammable or toxic gases. It is also becoming more important in reducing gas leakage and emission of greenhouse gases.

3.1.5 Clearance Unloaders In many applications, the volume of gas to be delivered may change based on 29

either gas supply or process demands. Also, varying pressure conditions can change the load on the driver, requiring load control. This may be accomplished by speed variation, deactivating cylinders or cylinder ends, or by varying cylinder clearance. This last option is highly preferred, as speed control may have a limited range, and deactivating cylinders or ends can cause mechanical shaking or acoustic pulsations.

Fig 3.10: Pressure Unloader Clearance unloaders allow varying throughput and load with minimal loss of efficiency. Unloaders are not actually a part of a compressor, but are included on many installations, to give load and throughput control. This may be done by volumes cast into the cylinder or heads, with a valve to close the passageway. Other options are valve cap pockets and head end variable pockets. Added clearance may have a simple hand wheel to control its operation, or may have pneumatic actuators, which allow automatic operation.

3.1.6 Distance Piece Compartment(s) A distance piece section may be placed between the crosshead and cylinder to prevent leakage of gas from the compressor packing entering the compressor crankcase. At the crosshead end, an oil seal around the compressor rod prevents oil from migrating to the cylinder, and gas from entering the crankcase. This distance piece is normally vented to remove any gas which leaks from the packing. In cases of explosive or toxic gases there may be two distance pieces in series, to assure containment of the gases. 30

3.1.7 Frame/Crankcase Totally enclosed, rigid cast iron body in square or rectangle shape. Bearing housing is fitted on crank case with accurately bored to fit Main Bearings so, misalignment or eccentricity is avoided. It gives better support to the crank shaft.

3.1.8 Crank Shaft High grade S.G. Iron crank shaft in one piece in design, dynamically balanced with counter weights, avoid any twisting. Crank pin & Journals duly ground & polished, ensure long life of bearings. A Flywheel is fitted on crank shaft.

3.1.9 Connecting Rod Forged alloy steel connecting rod is duly normalized and are designed to provide minimum thrust on cross head bearing surface.

Fig 3.11: Connecting Rod 3.1.10 Main Bearings & Big End Bearings Copper lead alloy designed for long life. It gives perfect rigidity to running gear. 31

3.1.11 Cross Slide & Cross Head Manufactured from High grade S.G. Iron material. Its low inertia along with low friction cross slide ensure perfect running of cross head. 3.1.12 Suction & Discharge Valves The performance of air compressor is mostly depend upon the condition of suction and discharge valves. These valves are very important part in any reciprocating air compressor. Every valve requires a periodic inspection and maintenance. 3.1.16 Oil Pump Air-compressor oil is usually a synthetic oil that does not contain detergents commonly found in motor oil. Air-compressor oil is manufactured specifically for use in lubricating the ball bearings inside a compressor and is generally the recommended choice by manufacturers of air compressors. A synthetic oil also helps reduce carbon deposits within the compressor. Motor oil comes in organic and synthetic varieties and is used in vehicle engines to provide lubrication between metal parts. Unlike air-compressor oil, motor oil often contains additives that help protect engines by preventing the oil from deteriorating under high operating temperatures.


Fig 3.13: 2T Oil Preferred Interchangeability While it's possible to use a motor oil in some air compressors, it is not generally recommended that air-compressor oil be used in motor vehicles. It feeds oil to main bearings, connecting rod bearings & to cross slides. The oil pump regulates the oil pressure by pressure regulating screw.

3.2 COMPRESSOR TANK Air receiver tanks are designed to provide a supply buffer to meet short-term demand spikes that can exceed the compressor capacity. They also serve to dampen reciprocating compressor pulsations, separate out particles and liquids, and make the compressed air system easier to control

Photo 3.1: SS Sheet undergoing Rolling Air receivers in compressed air systems serves the important purposes of:


Equalizing the pressure variation from the start/stop and modulating sequence of the compressor

Photo 3.2: Scrap Tank used for Tank Side Caps Storage of air volume equalizing the variation in consumption and demand from the system Collecting condensate and water in the air after the compressor

Fig 3.14: Tank - Exploded Diagram We have managed to successfully fabricate a tank of 55 liters out of the mild steel sheet and the cap components.



4.1 CAPACITY OF A COMPRESSOR The capacity of a compressor is the full rated volume of flow of gas compressed and delivered under conditions of total temperature, total pressure, and composition prevailing at the compressor inlet. It sometimes means actual flow rate, rather than rated volume of flow. This is also called free air delivery (FAD) i.e. air at atmospheric conditions at any specific location. This term does not mean air delivered under identical or standard conditions because the altitude, barometer, and temperature may vary at different localities and at different times.

4.1.1 Assessment of capacity of a Compressor

Due to ageing of the compressors and inherent inefficiencies in the internal components, the free air delivered may be less than the design value, despite good maintenance practices. Sometimes, other factors such as poor maintenance, fouled heat exchanger and effects of altitude also tend to reduce free air delivery. In order to meet the air demand, the inefficient compressor may have to run for more time, thus consuming more power than actually required. The power wastage depends on the percentage deviation of FAD capacity. For example, a worn out compressor valve can reduce the compressor capacity by as much as 20 percent. A periodic assessment of the FAD capacity of each compressor has to be carried out to check its actual capacity. If the deviations are more than 10 percent, corrective measures should b e taken to rectify the same. The ideal method of compressor capacity assessment is through a nozzle test wherein a calibrated nozzle is used as a load, to vent out the generated

compressed air. Flow is assessed, based on the air temperature, stabilization, pressure, orifice constant, etc.


4.1.2 Simple method of capacity assessment at the shop floor

Isolate the compressor along with its individual receiver that are to be taken for a test from the main compressed air system by tightly closing the isolation valve or blanking it, thus closing the receiver outlet.

Open the water drain valve and drain out water fully and empty the receiver and the pipeline.

Make sure that the water trap line is tightly closed once again to start the test. Start the compressor and activate the stopwatch. Note the time taken to attain the normal operational pressure P2 (in the receiver) from initial pressure P1. Calculate the capacity as per the formulae given below (Confederation of Indian Industries):

The above equation is relevant where the compressed air temperature is the same as the ambient air temperature, i.e., perfect isothermal compression. In case the actual compressed air temperature at discharge, say t 2

C is higher than

ambient air temperature say t1 0 C (as is usual case), the FAD is to be corrected by a factor (273 + t1 ) / (273 + t2 ). 36

Through pragmatic calculation, Q is noted to be CFM/4.6min = 15.13Nm3 per min

4.2 COMPRESSOR EFFICIENCY Several different measures of compressor efficiency are commonly used: volumetric efficiency, adiabatic efficiency, isothermal efficiency and mechanical efficiency. Adiabatic and isothermal efficiencies are computed as the isothermal or adiabatic power divided by the actual power consumption. The figure obtained indicates the overall efficiency of a compressor and drive motor.

4.2.1 Thickness Calculation Thickness calculation for cylinder from the concept of the thin cylinders

t =
where, t= shear stress p= pressure inside d= diameter of the cylinder t = thickness of cylinder

we know, p= 0.68N/mm2 d= 300 mm 37

t = 24.28 N/mm2 t= Thickness of Sheet used to make the cylinder, t= 4.2mm

4.2.2 Isothermal efficiency

Isothermal Efficiency =

Isothermal power (kW) = P1 x Q1 x loge(r/36.7)

where, P1 = Absolute intake pressure kg/ cm2 Q1 = Free air delivered m3 /hr. r = Pressure ratio P2 /P 1

The calculation of isothermal power does not include power needed to overcome friction and generally gives an efficiency that is lower than adiabatic efficiency. The reported value of efficiency is normally the isothermal efficiency. This is an important consideration when selecting compressors based on reported values of efficiency. Isothermal Efficiency is found to be 0.695.

4.2.3 Volumetric Efficiency


Compressor Displacement = x D2 /4 x L x S x k x n


D = Cylinder bore, meter = 0.057m L = Cylinder stroke, meter = 0.13m S = Compressor speed rpm = 650rpm k = 1 for single acting and 2 for double acting cylinders n = No. of cylinders =1

For practical purposes, the most effective guide in comparing compressor efficiencies is the specific power consumption, i.e. kW/volume flow rate, for different compressors that would provide identical duty. Therefore, Volumetric Efficiency, through the above values is found to be 0.68

4.3 PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT OF DISTRIBUTION LOSSES 4.3.1 Leak Can Set and Consequences A system of distribution pipes and regulators convey compressed air from the central compressor plant to process areas. This system includes various isolation valves, fluid traps, intermediate storage vessels, and even heat trace on pipes to prevent condensation or freezing in lines exposed to the outdoors. Pressure losses in distribution typically are compensated for by higher pressure at the compressor discharge. 39

At the intended point of use, a feeder pipe with a final isolation valve, filter, and regulator carries the compressed air to hoses that supply processes or pneumatic tools. Leaks can be a significant source of wasted energy in an industrial compressed air system, sometimes wasting 20 to 30 percent of a compressor s output. On the other hand, proactive leak detection and repair can reduce leaks to less than 10 percent of compressor output. In addition to being a source of wasted energy, leaks can also contribute to other operating losses. Increased running time can also lead to additional maintenance requirements and increased unscheduled downtime. Finally, leaks can lead to adding unnecessary compressor capacity.
While leakage can come from any part of the system, the most common problem areas are: Couplings, hoses, tubes, and fittings Pressure regulators Open condensate traps and shut-off valves Pipe joints, disconnects, and thread sealants.

Leakage rates are a function of the supply pressure in an uncontrolled system and increase with higher system pressures. Leakage rates identified in cubic feet per minute (cfm) are also proportional to the square of the orifice diameter. See table below.

Leakage Rates* Orifice Diameter

* For well-rounded orifices, values should be multiplied by 0.97 and by 0.611 for sharp

Table 4.1: Leakage Rates for different supply pressure and orifice sizes 40

3.2.2 Leak Quantification For compressors that have start/stop or load/unload controls, there is an easy way to estimate the amount of leakage in the system. This method involves starting the compressor when there are no demands on the system (when all the air operated, end-use equipment is turned off). The compressor will load and

unload because the air leaks will cause the compressor to cycle on and off as the pressure drops from air escaping through the leaks. Total leakage (percentage) can be calculated as follows:

Leakage will be expressed in terms of the percentage of compressor capacity lost. The percentage lost to leakage should be less than 10 percent in a wellmaintained s ystem. Poorly maintained systems can have losses as high as 20 to 30 percent of air capacity and power.




1. Air Compressor Prior to installation and usage, thoroughly inspect air compressor for damages. Check tank, compressor, compressor motor, and pump for any signs of damage or corrosion. Check all screws, bolts, nuts and fasteners, confirm that they are secure. Confirm that all fittings, tank petcock, hardware and paint, are free from rust and corrosion. Confirm that all compressor settings are correct prior to start up and usage. 41

2. Air Tool Inspection Prior to connecting and using compressor, thoroughly inspect each air tool for damage. Check entire tool assembly for any signs of damage or corrosion. Check all assembly screws, bolts and nuts and fasteners, confirm that they are secure. Confirm that all fittings, bits and hardware are in good condition. Confirm that tool settings are correct prior to connection and usage.



A. RISK OF DUST Dust from power sanding, sawing, grinding, drilling, and other construction activities contain chemicals which can cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. These chemicals may include (but are not limited to) the following: Lead from lead-based paints Crystalline silica from bricks and cement and other masonry products Arsenic and chromium from chemically-treated lumber

The risk from these exposures very, depending on how often you do this type of work. To reduce your exposure to these chemicals: Work in a well-ventilated area, and work with approved safety equipment. Always wear MAHA/MIOSH approved, properly fitting face masks or respirators when using such tools. Always follow basic safety precautions when using air tools to reduce the risk of personal injury. B. Risk of Bursting Rust can weaken the tank. Drain the condensed water from the tank after each use to reduce rusting. If a leak is detected in the tank, replace the tank immediately. 42

Do not weld, drill or modify the air tank of the compressor. Welding or modifications on the air compressor tank can severely impair tank strength and cause an extremely hazardous condition. Welding or modifying the tank in any manner will void the warranty. Check the manufacturers maximum pressure rating for air tools and accessories. Compressor outlet pressure must be regulated so as to never exceed the maximum pressure rating of the tool. Relieve all pressure in the hose before attaching or removing accessories.

Do not tamper with the pressure switch or relief valve for any reason. Doing so voids all warranties. They have been preset at the factory for the maximum pressure of this unit.

Personal injury and /or property damage may result if the pressure switch or the relief valve are tampered with. Do not use plastic or PVC pipe for compressor air. Use only galvanized steel pipe & fittings for compressed air distribution lines.

C. Risk of Eye or Head Injury a. What could happen Air powered equipment and power tools are capable of propelling materials such as fasteners, metal chips, saw dust, and other debris at high speed, which could result in serious eye injury. Compressed air can be hazardous .The air stream can cause injury to soft tissue areas such as eyes, ears, etc. Particles or objects propelled by the stream can cause injury. Tool attachments can be become loose or break and fly apart propelling particles at the operator and others in the work area. b. How to prevent it Always wear ANSI approved Z87.1 safety glasses with glasses with side shields.


Never leave operating tool unattended. Disconnect air hose when tool is not in use. For additional protection, use an approved face shield in addition to safety glasses. Make sure that any attachments are securely assembled. Never point any nozzle or sprayer toward a person or any part of the body. Equipment can cause serious injury if the spray penetrates the skin.

D. Risk of Fire or Explosion a. What could happen Abrasive tools such as sanders and grinders, rotating tools such as drills, and impact tools such as nailers, staples, wrenches, hammers, and reciprocating saws are capable of generating sparks which could result in ignition of flammable materials. It is normal for the compressor motor and pressure switch to produce sparks while operating. If sparks come into contract with vapors from gasoline or other solvents, they may ignite, causing a fire or explosion. Exceeding the maximum pressure rating of tools or accessories could cause an explosion resulting in serious injury. b. How to prevent it Never operate tools near flammable substances such as gasoline, cleaning solvents, etc. Work in a clean, well-ventilated area free of combustible materials. Never use oxygen, carbon dioxide or other bottled gases as power source for air tools. Use compressed air regulated to maximum pressure at or below the rated pressure of any attachments. Never connect to an air source that is capable of exceeding 90 psi. Always verify prior to using the tool that the air source has been adjusted to the rated air pressure range. 44

Never spray flammable liquids in a confined area. Do not spray where sparks or flame are present. Do not smoke while spraying. Keep compressor as far from spray area as possible.

E. Risk of Hearing Loss a. What could happen Long term exposure to noise produced from the operation of air tools can lead to permanent hearing loss b. How to prevent: Always wear ANSI S3.19 hearing protection when using a compressor.

F. Risk to Breathing/Inhalation Hazard a. What could happen Abrasive tools such as grinders, sanders and cut-off tools generate dust and abrasive materials which can be harmful to human lungs and respiratory system. Some materials such as adhesives and tar contain chemicals whose vapors could cause respiratory damage. Read all instructions to be sure that your respirator mask will protect you. Always work in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area. Never directly inhale the compressed air produced by a compressor .It is not suitable for breathing purposes. Be certain to read all labels when you are spraying paints or toxic materials, and follow the safety instructions. G. Risk of Injury a. What could happen


Tools left unattended, or with the air hose attached can be activated by unauthorized persons leading to their injury and/or injury to others. Air tools can propel fasteners or other materials throughout the work area. A wrench or key that is left attached to a rotating part of the tool increases the risk of personal injury. Using inflator nozzles for duster applications can cause serious injury. Air tools can become activated by accident during maintenance or tool changes. Air tools can cause the work-piece to move upon contact leading to injury. Loss of control of the tool can lead to injury to self or others. Poor quality, improper, or damaged tools such as grinding wheels, chisels, sockets, drills, nailers, staples, etc., can fly apart during operation, propelling particles throughout the work area causing serious injury.

Fasteners could ricochet or be propelled causing serious injury or property damage. Improperly maintained tools and accessories can cause serious injury. There is a risk of bursting if the tool is damaged. The compressor unit starts automatically. Serious injury could occur from contact with moving parts.

b. How to prevent it Remove air hose when tool is not in use and store tool in secure location away from reach of children and or untrained users. Use only parts, fasteners, and accessories recommended by the manufacture. Keep work area clean and free of clutter. Keep children and others away from area during operation of the tool. Keep work area well lit. Remove adjusting keys and wrenches before turning the tool on. DO NOT use inflator nozzles for duster applications. Remove air hose to lubricate or add grinding attachments, sanding discs, drills, etc. to the tool. 46

Never carry the tool by the hose. Avoid unintentional starting. Repair servicing should be done only by an authorized service representative. Never operate tool while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Dont overreach .Keep proper footing and balance of all times. Keep handles dry, clean and free from oil and grease. Stay alert. Watch what you are doing .Use common sense. Do not operate tool when you are tried. Always use tool attachments rated for the aped of the power tool. Never use tools which have been dropped, impacted or damaged by use. Use only impact grade sockets on an impact wrench. Do not apply excessive force to the tool. Let the tool perform the work. Never point discharge of tool at self or others. Do not pull trigger unless tool contact safety device is against work surface. Never attempt to drive fasteners into hard surfaces such as steel, concrete, or tile when using air tools. Use only accessories identified by the manufacturer to be used with specific tools. Maintain the tool with care. Keep a cutting tool sharp and clean .A properly maintained tool, with sharp cutting edges reduces the risk of binding and is easier to control. Check for misalignment of binding or moving parts, breakage of parts, and any other condition that affects the tools operation. If damaged, have the tool serviced before using.

Use of an accessory not intended for use with the specific tools increases the risk of injury to persons. Always shut off the compressor, remove the plug from the outlet, and bleed all pressure from the system before servicing the compressor, and when the compressor is not in use. 47

Do not operate the unit with the shroud removed.

H. Risk of Electric Shock a. What could happen Using air tools to attach electrical wiring can result in electrocution, or death. Improper electrical connections can result in fires, electrocution, or death. If the tool is not provided with an insulated gripping surface. Contact with a live wire makes exposed metal tool parts live, resulting in possible electrocution or death. Fasteners coming in contact with hidden electrical wiring could cause electrocution or death. b. How to prevent it: Never attach electrical wiring with energized tools. Avoid body contact with grounded surfaces such as pipes, radiators, ranges, and refrigerators. There is an increased risk of electric shock if your body is grounded. Thoroughly investigate the work piece for possible hidden wiring before performing work. A licensed electrician in accordance with all local and national codes must install all wiring. Never use an electric air compressor outdoors when it is raining or on a wet surface, as it may cause an electric shock.

I. Risk of Entanglement a. What could happen


Tools containing moving elements or driving other moving tools (grinding wheels, sockets, sanding discs, etc.) can become entangled in hair, clothing, jewelry, and other loose objects, resulting in injury.

b. How to prevent it Never wear loose fitting clothes or apparel that contains loose straps or ties, etc. which could become entangled in moving parts. Remove any jewelry, watches, identifications, necklaces, etc., which might become caught by the tool. Keep hands away from moving parts .Tie up or cover long hair.

J. Risk of Cut or Burns a. What could happen Tools which cut, shear, drill, staple punch, chisel, etc., are capable of causing serious injury. The pump and manifold generate high temperatures.

b. How to prevent it: Keep the working part of the tool away from hands and body. Do not touch the pump, manifold or transfer tube while the pump is running. Allow them to cool before handing or servicing. Keep children away from the compressor at all times.



Drain the moisture from the tank daily to help prevent corrosion. Pull the pressure relief valve ring daily to ensure proper function and clear possible obstructions To provide proper ventilation for cooling, the compressor must be kept at least 12 inches (31cm) from the nearest wall, in a well-ventilated area. Fasten the compressor securely and release tank pressure before transporting. 49

Protect the air hose and electronic cord from damage and puncture. Inspect them weekly for weak or worn spots, and replace if necessary. To reduce the risk of electric shock, do not expose to rain. Store indoors. Never operate the compressor if the power cord or plug are damaged. Take the equipment to nearest authorized service center and a specialist technician will replace it.

Ensure air intake to compressor is not warm and humid by locating compressors in well-ventilated area or by drawing cold air from outside. Every

4 C rise in air inlet temperature will increase power consumption by 1 percent. Clean air-inlet filters regularly. Compressor efficiency will be reduced by 2 percent for every 250 mm WC pressure drop across the filter. Keep compressor valves in good condition by removing and inspecting once every six months. Worn-out valves can reduce compressor efficiency by as much as 50 percent. Install manometers across the filter and monitor the pressure drop as a guide to replacement of element. Minimize low-load compressor operation; if air demand is less than 50 percent of compressor capacity, consider change over to a smaller compressor or reduce compressor speed appropriately (by reducing motor pulley size) in case of belt driven compressors. Consider the use of regenerative air dryers, which uses the heat of compressed air to remove moisture. Fouled inter-coolers reduce compressor efficiency and cause more water condensation in air receivers and distribution lines resulting in increased corrosion. Periodic cleaning of inter-coolers must be ensured. Compressor free air delivery test (FAD) must be done periodically to check the present operating capacity against its design capacity and corrective steps must be taken if required.



5.1 CONCLUSIONS In India, reciprocating and screw air compressors are manufactured by most of the manufacturers. Few of them also manufacture reciprocating gas compressors. The total capacity range manufactured in India is limited as compared to manufacturers worldwide. Though this could be termed as a technology gap, this is not a gap in the true sense, because it is 'market-related'. In India, the demand for these ranges of reciprocating and screw compressors is not enough to provide the necessary economies of scale for domestic manufacture. In terms of compressor design, technology gaps exist in the following types of compressors. Integral gear type centrifugal compressors. Oil-free screw compressors (the core unit is imported and assembled in India). Only one manufacturer, BHEL - a public sector unit, has the manufacturing base for centrifugal air/gas compressors. Atlas Copco (I) and Ingersoll-Rand (I) are the other two companies in India which sell Centrifugal Air compressors. However, neither of these companies has the facility to manufacture these compressors. They import the core units of the centrifugal air compressors from their parent companies and assemble them with features according to the users' requirements and sell them in the country. More than 50 % of the value of the compressors imported are centrifugal gas compressors. The reasons for imports are as follow: * Only BHEL manufactures heavy duty centrifugal gas compressors in India. * Usually the lead time/delivery period taken by BHEL is quite high compared to foreign suppliers.


* Integral gear type centrifugal compressors are not manufactured in India and are totally imported. Technology gaps exist in the following components of Air & Gas compressors. * 3-D Impellers * Oil-free screw rotors * Mechanical seals * Bearings * High speed couplings * Cartridge filter * Heat exchangers * Piston rings * Valves Some of the international manufacturers use Analog Study to study the pressure pulsations produced in reciprocating compressors. But this study technique is not available in India; instead, Digital study techniques are used for the purpose. The thrust of research and development efforts of various Indian manufacturers is not towards developing new types of compressors (basic research & design) but more towards indigenization of the collaborator's design. The main reasons for this state of affairs are: The low volume of turnover of business does not permit sizable investment in research and design Globally India is not viewed as a source of basic research and design It is faster to update technology through collaboration than through indigenous research


5.2 RECOMMENDATIONS 5.2.1 Given the present situation, it is unlikely that the subsidiaries of the foreign companies in India would be in a position to invest in the latest technology; namely, centrifugal technology as their parent companies have already built up the manufacturing base elsewhere in the world. Also it is unlikely that the other Indian companies (without foreign equity participation) would be investing in the centrifugal technology in the coming years. BHEL, which already has a manufacturing base for centrifugal air/gas compressors, should explore possibilities for extending its product range (especially API 672 based Integral gear type centrifugal compressors, compressors with 3-D Impellers etc.) by entering into a technical/equity tie-up with one of the world leaders in these fields if necessary. The demand in India for these type of compressors is low, yet it is necessary to become globally competitive. BHEL would be in a position to do this because of the following reasons: BHEL has been in this field since 1971 BHEL has already supplied many compressors under international competitive bidding 5.2.2 Research & Development in the field of materials science is necessary to improve the efficiency and performance of compressors. Industry should work along with the National Laboratories/Institutes in this direction. The thrust areas are the following: * Reducing internal losses * Noise control * Miniaturization of compressors * Thermodynamics * Fluid flow


5.2.3 Indian manufacturers need to consider catering to the global market. They should not feel restricted, by low domestic demand, in investing in new technology. They should take necessary steps such that they possess state-of-the-art technology. 5.2.4 One of the reasons for the existing technology gap in certain areas like Oil-free screw compressors, Integral gear type centrifugal compressors etc., is low domestic demand. Indian manufacturers should try to become globally competitive to overcome this problem of low domestic demand. They may have to face foreign competition in the domestic market itself. They should therefore take necessary measures to meet the challenge. 5.2.5 The following export promotion measures need to be taken to facilitate exports of compressors: * Restrictions on delivery of spare parts to clients abroad need to be rationalized which would help manufacturers in their export efforts. * As ISO 9000 certificate is fast becoming an essential export requirement in some parts of the world, Indian manufacturers should work to get the ISO 9000 certificate. 5.2.6 The technology for making special bearings required by the compressor manufacturers, should be procured/developed by them. 5.2.7 The technology for making suction and discharge valves used in the compressors, should be procured/developed by them. 5.2.8 In order to facilitate availability of quality spares for all types of compressors, manufacturers need take suitable action and cultivate such ancillaries as are capable of manufacturing good quality spares.



Industrial plants use compressed air throughout their production operations, which is produced by compressed air units ranging from 5 horsepower(hp) to over 50,000hp. The US Department of Energy (2003) reports that 70 to 90 percent of compressed air is lost in the form of unusable heat, friction, misuse and noise. For this reason, compressors and compressed air systems are important areas to improve energy efficiency at industrial plants.

Figure 6.1: Sankey Diagram for Compressed Air System It is worth noting that the running cost of a compressed air system is far higher than the cost of a compressor itself (see Figure). Energy savings from system improvements can range from 20 to 50 percent or more of electricity consumption, resulting in thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. A properly managed compressed air system can save energy, reduce maintenance, decrease downtime, increase production throughput, and improve product quality. A machine providing gas at high pressure is the compressor and work must be done upon the gas by external agency.


Improving and maintaining peak compressed air system performance requires addressing both the supply and demand sides of the system and how the two interact.

Figure 6.2: Cost components in a typical compressed air system Compressed air systems consist of a supply side, which includes compressors and air treatment, and a demand side, which includes distribution and storage systems and end -use equipment. A properly managed supply side will result in clean, dry, stable air being delivered at the appropriate pressure in a dependable, cost-effective manner. A properly managed demand side minimizes wasted air and uses compressed air for appropriate applications. Improving and maintaining peak compressed air system performance requires addressing both the supply and demand sides of the system and how the two interact. 6.1 ENERGY EFFICIENCY OPPORTUNITIES 6.1.1 Location Of C ompressor The location of air compressors and the quality of air drawn by the compressors will have a significant influence on the amount of energy consumed. Compressor performance as a breathing machine improves with cool, clean, dry air at intake. 56

6.1.2 Air Intake Temperature The effect of intake air on compressor performance should not be underestimated. Intake air that is contaminated or hot can impair compressor performance and result in excess energy and maintenance costs. Such build-up can cause premature wear and reduce compressor capacity. The compressor generates heat due to its continuous operation. This heat gets dissipated to compressor room/ chamber leading to hot air intake. This results in lower volumetric efficiency and higher power consumption. As a general rule, Every 4oC rise in inlet air temperature results in a higher energy consumption by 1percent to achieve equivalent output. Hence the intake of cool air improves the energy efficiency of a compressor (see table).

Table 6.1: Effect of intake air temperature on compressor power consumption When an intake air filter is located at the compressor, the ambient temperature should be kept at a minimum, to prevent reduction in mass flow. This can be accomplished by locating the inlet pipe outside the room or building. When the intake air filter is located outside the building, and particularly on a roof, ambient considerations may be taken into account. 6.1.3 Pressure Drops In Air Filter A compressor intake air filter should be installed in, or have air brought to it from a clean, cool location. The compressor manufacturer normally supplies, or 57

recommends, a specific grade of intake filter designed to protect the compressor. The better the filtration at the compressor inlet, the lower the maintenance at the compressor. However, the pressure drop across the intake air filter should be kept at a minimum (by size and by maintenance) to prevent a throttling effect and a reduction in compressor capacity. A pressure differential gauge is one of the best tools to monitor the condition of the inlet filter. The pressure drop across a new inlet filter should not exceed 3 pounds per square inch (psi). Table indicates the effect of pressure drop across air filter on power consumption.

Table 6.2: Effect of pressure drop across the filter on increase in power consumption As a general rule For every 250 mm WC pressure drop increase across at the suction path due to choked filters etc, the compressor power consumption increases by about 2 percent for the same output . Hence, it is advisable to clean inlet air filters at regular intervals to minimize pressure drops. Manometers or differential pressure gauges across filters may be used to monitor pressure drops so as to plan filter-cleaning schedules. 6.1.4 Elevation Altitude has a direct impact on the volumetric efficiency of a compressor. The effect of altitude on volumetric efficiency is given in the Table. It is evident that compressors located at higher altitudes consume more power to achieve a particular delivery pressure than those at sea level, as the compression ratio is higher.


Table 6.3: Effect of altitude on compressor volumetric efficiency

6.1.5 Inter and After-Coolers Most multi-stage compressors use intercoolers, which are heat exchangers that remove the heat of compression between the stages of compression. Intercooling affects the overall efficiency of the machine. As mechanical energy is applied to a gas for compression, the temperature of the gas increases. After-coolers are installed after the final stage of compression to reduce the air temperature. As the air temperature is reduced, water vapor in the air is condensed, separated, collected, and drained from the system. Most of the condensate from a compressor with intercooling is removed in the intercooler(s), and the remainder in the after-cooler. Almost all industrial systems, except those that supply process air to heat-indifferent operations, require after -cooling. In some systems, after-coolers are an integral part of the compressor package, while in other systems the after-cooler is a separate piece of equipment. Some systems have both. Ideally, the temperature of the inlet air at each stage of a multi-stage machine should be the same as it was at the first stage. This is referred to as perfect cooling or isothermal compression. But in actual practice, the inlet air temperatures at subsequent stages are higher than the normal levels resulting in higher power consumption, as larger volume is handled for the same duty (See Table).


Use of water at lower temperature reduces specific power consumption. However, very low cooling water temperature could result in condensation of moisture in the air, which if not removed would lead to cylinder damage.

Table 6.4: Illustration of Effect of Intercooling on Compressor Power Consumption Similarly, inadequate cooling in after-coolers (due to fouling, scaling etc.), allow warm, humid air into the receiver, which causes more condensation in air receivers and distribution lines, which in consequence, leads to increased

corrosion, pressure drops and leakages in piping and end-use equipment. Periodic cleaning and ensuring adequate flow at proper temperature of both intercoolers and after-coolers are therefore necessary for sustaining desired performance.

6.2 MINIMIZING LEAKAGE As explained earlier, compressed air leakage accounts for substantial power wastage. Since air leaks are almost impossible to see, other methods must be used to locate them. The best way to detect leaks is to use an ultrasonic acoustic detector, which can recognize the high- frequency hissing sounds associated with air leaks. Ultrasonic leak detection is probably the most versatile form of leak detection. It is readily adapted to a variety of leak detection situations. Leaks occur most often 60

at joints and connections. Stopping leaks can be as simple as tightening a connection or as complex as replacing faulty equipment, such as couplings, fittings, pipe sections, hoses, joints, drains, and traps. In many cases, leaks are caused by failed cleaning of threads or by bad or improperly applied thread sealant. Select high quality fittings, disconnects, hose, tubing, and install them properly with

appropriate thread sealant to avoid future leakages.

Fig 6.3: Ultrasonic Leak Detector



[1] Confederation of Indian Industries, Manual on Compressors and Compressed Air Systems. [2] ECompressedAir. Compressed Air Audits. Department of Chemical Engineering [3] McKane, A. and Medaris, B. The Compressed Air Challenge Making a difference for US industry. 2003. [4] MT University. Compressors. courses/CM4120/315,30,Reference [5] National Productivity Council, India. Compressors. In: Technology Menu for Efficient Reports [6] Sustainable Energy Development Office, Government of Western Australia. Compressed Air Systems. 2002. [7] Tashian, Paul. Successful Leak Detection Using Ultrasonics. [8] US Department of Energy (US DOE), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Improving Compressed Air System Performance. DEO/GO-1020031822. 2003. [9] US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Industrial Technologies Program. Energy Tips Compressed Air Tip Sheet 3. 2004. Energy Use, Motor Drive Systems (NPC). 1993, NPC Energy Audit King, Julie. MichiganTech,