You are on page 1of 16



Reciprocating type

Rotary type

Reciprocating In-line Compressors:

These are most commonly used compressors with varying pressure ranges. These are
simple in design with almost very little automation. The cylinders of various stages are
found in a straight line when seen from top. These compressors are commonly direct
driven by electric motors or diesel engines. Refer the attached diagram of the
reciprocating in-line compressors.

V"-Shaped Compressors:
These are usually air cooled compressors with concentric valves mounted on each
cylinder head unit. The compressor has different units displaced usually by 90 degrees,
may or may not be connected to same crank pin on the crank shaft. Higher capacity
compressors are water cooled. Better torque and balancing is achieved by displacing
the units by certain angle.

Single-Acting Compressors:
These are usually reciprocating compressors, which has piston working on air only in
one direction. The other end of the piston is often free or open which does not perform
any work. The air is compressed only on the top part of the piston. The bottom of the
piston is open to crankcase and not utilized for the compression of air.
Double-Acting Compressors:
These compressors are having two sets of suction/intake and delivery valves on both
sides of the piston. As the piston moves up and down, both sides of the piston is utilized
in compressing the air. The intake and delivery valves operate corresponding to the
stroke of the compressor. The compressed air delivery is comparatively continuous
when compared to a single-acting air compressor. Thus both sides of the pistons are
effectively used in compressing the air.

The rotary compressors are not of reciprocating nature, therefore does not have any
pistons and crankshaft. Instead, these compressors have screws, vanes, scrolls, and
other devices which rotate and thus compress air. The rotary compressors are classified
into screw type, vane type-lobe type, scroll type and other types.

Rotary Compressors:
These compressors are not of reciprocating nature, therefore does not have any pistons
and crankshaft. Instead, these compressors have screws, vanes, scrolls, and other
devices which rotate and thus compress air. The rotary compressors are classified into
screw type, vane type-lobe type, scroll type and other types.
Every Air compressor on a ship is fitted with several safety features to avoid abnormal
and dangerous operational errors of the equipment. If safety, alarms and trips are not
present on the air compressor, abnormal operation may lead to breakdown of the
compressor and may also injure a person working on or around it.
Relief valve: Fitted after every stage to release excess pressure developed inside it.
The setting of the lifting pressure increases after every ascending stage.
Bursting disc: A bursting disc is a copper disc provided at the airside of the compressor.
It is a safety disc, which bursts when the pressure exceeds over the pre-determined
Fusible plug: Generally located on the discharge side of the compressor, it fuses if the
air temperature is higher than the operational temperature. The fusible plug is made up
of material, which melts at high temperature.
Lube Oil low-pressure alarm and trip: If the lube oil pressure goes lower than the
normal, the alarm is sounded followed by a cut out trip signal to avoid damage to
bearings and crank shaft.
Water high temperature trip: If the intercoolers are choked or the flow of water is less,
then the air compressor will get over heated. To avoid this situation high water
temperature trip is activated which cut offs the compressor.
Water no-flow trip: If the attached pump is not working or the flow of water inside the
intercooler is not enough to cool the compressor then moving part inside the
compressor will get seized due to overheating. A no flow trip is provided which
continuously monitor the flow of water and trips the compressor when there is none.

Motor Overload trip: If the current taken by motor during running or starting is very high
then there is a possibility of damage to the motor. An overload trip is thus fitted to avoid
such situation.
High Air Temperature Trip

Reasons for Oil Carry Over in Air Compressors

Choking oil drain holes in the scraper rings

Worn out oil scraper ring
Wrong fitting of oil scraper rings
Worn out liner
Choking of crankcase breather (it results in crankcase pressurization and eventually
oil carry over
Excessive cylinder lubrication in some types of compressors

How to Minimize it

Replace worn out scraper rings

Clear holes of scraper rings
Fit scraper rings properly
Clean and clear crankcase breather
Adjust lubrication to the top of the cylinder
What is emergency air compressor ?

It is a small compressor independently driven by a prime mover having power

supply from emergency switch board. They are also driven by diesel engines.
It must be fitted to press up the emergency air bottle and to start auxiliary engine of
a dead ship.
It has no connection between the main air bottle.

What are the safety devices in air compressors on ships ?

1. Bursting discs are fitted on the cooler shells (At water side).
2. Relief valves are fitted to discharge side for every stages.
3. Moisture drain valve (unloader) are fitted at each cooler side.
4. Cooling water failure alarm.
5. Low L. O pressure alarm and trip.
6. Delivery air high temperature alarm on after cooler outlet (Max 93 C)

What are the normal parameters of air compressor?

LP discharge pressure: 4 bars

HP discharge pressure: 30 bars.
Intercooler inlet air temperature: 130 C
Intercooler outlet air temperature: 35 C
After cooler inlet air temperature: 130 C
After cooler outlet air temperature: 35 C

Type of intercooler and after cooler?

Intercooler is single pass type

After cooler is double pass U-tube type

Purpose of un loader valve (moisture drain valve) in air compressor?

At starting this valve must be opened, this reduced the starting torque for the
machine and clear out any accumulated moisture and oil in the system.
What would be effect of suction valves of an air compressor having too much lift

The valve will be late in closing and this would reduce the volumetric efficiency of
the machine.
The valve experience greater force and therefore are more liable to break.

Effects of reduced volumetric efficiency of air compressor?

1. Greater bumping clearance.
2. Sluggish opening and closing of suction and delivery valves.
3. Insufficient cooling water that effect of high air temperature.
4. Dirty or partially chocked suction air fitter.

Difference between relief valve, bursting disc and fusible plug ?

Pressure relief valve

Excess pressure is released by opening the valve.
It opens at 10% over working pressure.
Valve lift is proportional to excess pressure build up.
Valve setting pressure can be altered by spring tension.
Bursting disc
Pressure is released by bursting the disc.
It permanently damaged.
It burst at setting pressure.
Setting pressure cannot be altered in place.
Fusible plug
When the air temperature from compressor is high (above 104.4 C) pressure is
released by melting (fusing) the metal.
It cannot be used next time. ( permanent damage)
Release all content or pressure to empty.

Why multistage compressors are mostly used than single stage compressor?
1. More stages are needed to increase the required final pressure.
2. Easier to control the air temperature.
3. Reducing in air compressor size.
4. Lubrication problem does not exit.
5. Reduced the thermal stress.
6. Lower work done to compressing air.
7. Improve compressor efficiency
Advantages of inter cooling of air compressor?

To avoid excessive temperature rise associated with higher compression ratios,

and to approach isothermal compression.
Saving in power.
Volumetric efficiency is increased.
Reduced the volume of air delivered and also reduced the compressor size.
It can reduce the air temperature.
Due to less temperature suction & delivery valves remain cleaner without being
fouled with carbonized oil.
It can avoid a danger of an explosion takes place in compressor cylinder.
It allows good lubrication of the compressor piston.
Moisture separation is easier through inter cooler drains.
It also enables to deal with a greater weight of air for the same energy expended.

Why intercooler is fitted in main air compressor on ships?

1. Reduced air temperature, volume and increased air density for next stage
2. So increased volumetric efficiency and compressor efficiency.
3. Due to reduced temperature give better lubrication for cylinder and piston rings
4. Drain are fitted from which water and excessive oil can be drained out, to prevent
air bottle corrosion and starting air explosion and fouling of inter coolers and pipe.
5. Save the work done.

Advantages of after cooler in air compressor?

To reduce final discharge air temperature thus air bottle size can be reduced.
To reduce air volume after it has been compressed to the final pressure.
So greater amount of air could be stored in air bottle.
Increase volumetric efficiency

How to start the air compressor manually on ships?

1. Change the switch to manual position on the switch board.
2. Check the L.O sump level and condition.
3. Open the moisture drain valve.
4. Open the compressor discharge valve & charging valve of air bottle.
5. Open cooling water system valves.
6. Turn the compressor flywheel by hand (one turn).
7. Start the motor, after draining the moisture shut the drain valve.
8. Check the motor ampere consumed.
9. Check the pressure gauge readings.
10. Frequently drain the moisture.
11. When charging full, open drain valve and stop the compressor
How do you check compressor efficiency during running?

1. Checked by filling time with the previous record and also check the first
stage discharge pressure. If compressor efficiency is lower, compressor will run
longer and compressor temperature will rise.
2. First stage and second stage pressure gauge must be correct and stable.
3. No escape of air from suction filter.
4. Intercooler and after cooler outlet air temperature should not be high.
5. If open drain valve nothing can be found.
6. Low L.O consumption.
7. Oily air mixture must not blow out from breather pipe.

Safety devices on main air bottle?

1. Pressure relief valve.

2. Fusible plug.(if safety valve is not directly fitted on the bottle)
3. Pressure gauge.
4. Low air pressure alarm.
5. Moisture drains valve.

Where is the fusible plug fitted and its purpose ?

Fusible plug is fitted under side of the pipe between relief valve and air bottle.
It is fitted to release the compressed air in the event of abnormally high compressed
air temperature.
Fusible plug melt at 105 C and release all content of air.
It is made by 50% bismut, 30% tin, 20% lead.
A fusible plug is fitted after the second stage cooler to limit the delivered air
temperature and thus protect the compressed air reservoirs and pipe work.

Can you fit the relief valve at the space of bursting disc and why?

At the compressor, relief valve can not be fitted at the bursting disc, because of
their difference operation.
Bursting disc is fitted for totally release and stop operation circuit.
Release valve opens excess pressure at compressor running and reset when
pressure reduce or when the compressor is stopped. Thus cooling water can enter
to compressed air space; it can cause water hammer when the next start of
Materials used for construction

Reciprocating Compressor

Crankcase and body Cast Iron

Crankshaft Spheroidal graphite cast iron or stainless steel

Connecting rod Forged Steel

Piston Aluminium Alloy or Cast / Ductile Iron

Piston Rings Cast Iron

Screw Compressor

Casing Cast or Ductile Iron

Screw Steel or Stainless Steel or Nickel Alloy

Where they are used?

Reciprocating Compressor

Reciprocating compressors are characterized with higher pressures and reduced mass
flow rate. They are mainly used in high pressure applications since it can deliver air at
about 30 40 bar.
1) For diesel engine starting, where electric motor starting becomes costly and

2) Refrigeration compressors are normally reciprocating type (Single Stage) with a

discharge pressure around 10 bar.

3) Air conditioning systems also uses reciprocating compressors (Nowadays trend is

changed to screw compressors).
Screw Compressors

Screw type compressors provide air at increased mass flow rate but with reduced
discharge pressure around 8 bar. Hence applications are also in low pressure systems,
such as,
1) Service air compressors used in industry (For cleaning air, etc.)

2) Air conditioning systems nowadays employ screw compressors. (which have low
power consumption and increased mass flow rate as advantages)

3) For low pressure air required for running pneumatic tools, pneumatic-hydraulic
equipment, etc.

Cycle of operation

Consider one cycle of operation in a reciprocating compressor.


The process that occurs in a cycle 1-2-3-4-1 are explained below

The process that occurs in a cycle 1-2-3-4-1 are explained below

(3) (4) As piston travels from BDC to TDC air trapped inside the cylinder is
(4) (1) As piston approaches TDC discharge valve opens and compressed air is
(1) (2) Undelivered air trapped in the clearance space is expanded as piston
moves down.
(2) (3) When trapped air in the clearance space is expanded to atmospheric
pressure, further downward movement of the piston creates a vacuum inside the
cylinder and thereby atmospheric air enters through suction valve.
Again cycle repeats.
In fig. Va indicates the volume corresponding to actual stroke of the piston from TDC to
BDC (also called stroke volume). Similarly Ve indicates the volume corresponding to
the effective stroke of piston, when atmospheric air enters the cylinder.

The ratio of effective stroke volume to the swept volume is known as the volumetric
efficiency of the compressor,

Voleff = [ ( Ve / Va ) * 100 ] %

Then why clearance space?

It was already seen from the above equation that volumetric efficiency is 100% when

Effective stroke = Actual stroke

In other words, no clearance volume exists. This is practically impossible, because

some clearance space is required otherwise piston hits on the cylinder head as it
travels. Also expansion of piston occurs as it travels and very little clearance may cause
the same problem. Also increased clearance space reduces compressor efficiency and
increase its running hours. So clearance volume must be kept around a reasonable
value as instructed by the manufacturer.

How to measure clearance volume

The clearance between piston and cylinder head while piston at TDC is called bumping
clearance. This can be measured in different ways. One common method is, remove
the valves from the top of the piston. Put a lead ball of sufficient diameter into the
cylinder. Slowly turn the flywheel one revolution by hand. Take out the lead piece and
measure its thickness, which gives the bumping clearance.
Why cooling is required?

Reciprocating compressors are generally cooled with air or water. The cylinders in air
cooled compressors often include large external fins that increase the surface area
available for heat transfer.

In water cooled compressors, freshwater is circulated through jackets that are built into
the walls of the cylinders and cylinder heads.

The compression cycle is illustrated graphically down below.

Single Stage Compression

Above cycle compresses gas from atmospheric pressure to 8 bar in a single stage. The
area enclosed by the points 12341 represents the work of compression in a single stage
compressor. Also see the cycle or Pressure-Volume diagram (P-V) below which
compresses gas from atmospheric pressure to 8 bar in two stages.

Two stage compression is shown below.

Two Stage Compression
Here first stage compresses gas from atmospheric pressure to 3 bar and then gas is
cooled isobarically (at constant pressure, refer diagram above). Now gas is again
compressed to 8 bar. Now we can see that the work of compression corresponding to
the shaded area in the diagram is saved by incorporating an inter cooling between two
stages. Hence when comparing with a single stage compressor work can be reduced by
inter cooling in a multistage compressor.

Work can be reduced further by increasing number of stages and inter cooling, but as
the number of stages increases design becomes complex, constructional cost
increases, maintenance cost also increase, which may nullify the effect of work saved
during operation. This is the limiting factor for more number of stages.

Refer figure below.

The indicator card (PV diagram) above shows 3 types (or processes) of compression

Isothermal Compression

During the process of compression, whatever heat produced is taken away by a cooling
medium. In other words, it is the compression , keeping temperature of the gas
constant. For a process to be isothermal, the process must be very slow, which is
impractical. From the indicator card, it is clear that, work of compression is minimum in
isothermal compression.

Adiabatic Compression

Whatever heat produced during compression is kept inside the gas only, or heat
transfer is zero in an adiabatic compression. For a perfect adiabatic process, process
must be very fast. All the thermodynamic process resembles adiabatic process. It can
be seen from the indicator card that, work of compression is maximum in adiabatic


Specific heat is defined as the heat energy required to raise the temperature of unit
mass of substance by unit degree.

Polytropic Compression

Polytropic compression is neither isothermal nor adiabatic. It comes in between.

Work of compression can be minimized by isothermal compression. But compression is
practically a fast process. So it better resembles an adiabatic process. Jacket cooling of
compressor makes the compression polytropic.

Now the only way to make the compression more isothermal is, by dividing the process
to a number of stages. Between every stage inter cooling of gas is done. Hence the
work can be saved substantially.

Refer the diagrams below.

Mountings on Air Resoirvoir:

1> Fusible Plug

Composition Bismuth (50%), Tin (30%), Lead (20%)
Melting Point 104.4 degree Celsius
Fitted at Reservoir Bottom or on Ship Side

2> Spring Loaded Safety Valve

32 Bar (for 30 bar Working Pressure) with 10% rise in accumulation of pressure,
Maybe fitted directly or with extension

3> Compensation Ring

When a hole is cut or machined in a pressure vessel, higher stresses will be
subjected upon the material around the hole, and to reduce this compensation
rings are fitted. It is a flange upon which a valve or fitting is usually mounted

4> Manual/Automatic Drain Valve

5> Pressure gauges
6> Access Doors
7> Low Air Pressure Alarm
8> Atmospheric Relief Valve

Internal Surface Coating:

Graphite suspension in water, Linseed Oil, Copal finish or Epoxy coating having basic
properties of anti-corrosion, anti-toxicity and anti- oxidation.