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Air Compressor

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Construction Equipment
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Ingersoll Rand PW185AWIR Air Compressor
Air compressors are devices used to provide efficient power to construction tools and machinery. Air compressors can be operated by internal combustion engines and their ability to pressurize air enables power to be transmitted via pipes or hoses.

Air compressors are commonly used for transmitting power to rock drills, jackhammers, air motors, pumps, and many more types of construction equipment. The use of compressors enable workers to bore holes, cut materials, crush rock, pour vibrated concrete, and are constantly used in countless other construction applications.


[edit] History

[edit] Von Guericke's Invention

In 1650, a physicist and engineer from Germany named Otto Von Guericke invented a vacuum pump and experimented with air pressure and how it was utilized to achieve different means. Guericke’s air pump demonstrated how air worked with combustion. His experiments led the way for further studies of the use of compressed air.[1]

[edit] Early Air Compressors

The "blowing cylinder" compressor was the first to be invented. Created in 1762, it could produce 14.5 pounds per square inch (99.9 kPa).[2]

In 1829, a compound air compressor was patented. A little more than 40 years later, in 1872, the compressor was improved with the use of water jets that cooled the cylinders. This invention emphasized the importance of controlling the temperature and moisture of the air that is being compressed for higher efficiency of tools.[3]

[edit] Air Compressors in Construction

The first recorded construction application that utilized air compression was the Mont Cenis Tunnel in the Swiss Alps in 1857. A device was used to distribute compressed air that was required in large amounts. Compressors were installed on both ends of the tunnel and air was transferred via pipes to rock drills. Upon completion the air had successfully accomplished 23,000 feet (7,010 m) of piping.[4]

Leroi-Dresser Q750DC Portable Air Compressor

[edit] The Introduction of Pneumatics

Inventions in the air compressor to transfer power from point A to B led to the invention of pneumatic tubes in which the air would flow, creating this power. Pneumatics were used for tools as early as the late 19th century. The earliest recorded pneumatic tool was the drill in 1871, invented by Simon Ingersoll of Ingersoll Rand.[5]

[edit] 20th Century Developments

Air compressors became more and more advanced as technology forced them to improvise to meet bigger construction applications and projects. Axial flow compressors and centrifugal compressors appeared in the mid-1900s, along with a digital-logic pneumatic conrol.[6]

Atlas Copco. is one of the most successful air compressor manufacturers, in part because of its ability to adapt. As early as 1901, the company began producing air compressors as well as other pneumatic-driven tools and machinery. Atlas expanded the use of compressors and pneumatic tools to serve its own demands, and quickly found that these were needed within the construction industry, just before the start of the First World War.

In 1902, Ingersoll Rand, owned by Simon Ingersoll who patented the first pneumatic rock drill, launched the Type X portable air compressor. Ingersoll Rand also provided air compressors for the construction of Mount Rushmore in 1927, as well as for the first atomic submarine in the world in 1954.[7]

In 1904, Atlas Copco introduced the piston compressor, an advancement that was improved upon by David Roos. Roos produced a compressor that was both lightweight and efficient in 1930. Herman Pyk and John Munck further developed the air compressor by making it portable in 1933, meaning that compressors could be used in various locations of a construction site.

In 1950, Atlas Copco started experimenting with oil-free air. The screw compressor was built by Patrik Danielsson and Alf Lysholm in 1955. Iwan Akerman made the screw compressor oil-free three years later. Advancements were further made by Ivar Trulsson, who invented the first ZR type oil-free stationary compressor.

Atlas Copco is also responsible for the portable compressor,  another device that compressed air without the use of oil. This 1967 invention became the standard for compression products within the industry.

Other major manufacturers to hit the compressor market include Grimmer Schmidt. This company, founded in 1969, became a major manufacturer with the help of the monoscrew air end and scroll technology that was introduced to compressors.[8]

[edit] Recent Equipment

Airtek has launched a line of compressors that use the rotary screw compressor system technology. The Under Hood VR70 has a capacity of 70 cubic feet (2 m3) per minute and 174 pounds per square inch (1,199 kPa) and was designed to remove the need for tow behind compressors that get in the way of the site. The V70 is fashionable for its light weight and compactness. The V140 truck has a mounted air compressor with 150 cubic feet (4.24 m3) per minute and 175 pounds per square inch (1,206 kPa).[9]

Ingersoll Rand produces a wide range of compressors suited for different applications and environments. Its rotary screw air technology compressors provide pulsation-free air, continuous flow of air, and quiet operation. Models that have 5-500 horsepower (hp) are available in the UP Series 5-51HP and 15-50HP; SSR Series 50-100HP; SSR Series; 125-450HP; and the SSR Two Stage 100-500HP. Their Premium line is more focused on energy efficiency and consists of the Nirvana 7.5-15HP, 20-40HP and 50-250HP. The highest energy compressors are delivered through their oil-free compressors, the Nirvana Oil-Free 50-200HP and Sierra Oil-Free 50-400HP.[10]

Atlas Copco released a new GA range of oil-injected air compressors on April 2, 2008, a line that is environmentally friendly while also maximizing efficient energy within compressors. [11]

[edit] Features/How it Works

[edit] Concept of Air Compressors

In order for air to transmit power, it needs to be compressed or increased to a higher pressure. When air is compressed it is given energy that can provide power for machinery, usually through the use of pistons pushing the compressed air back and forth.

Boyle’s law indicates that the volume of gas (such as air) increases when the pressure is decreased at a constant temperature. Because of the nature of compressed air, it is inevitable that some energy will be lost in the process. This loss of pressure is caused by the friction of air as it travels through pipes or hoses, therefore making the size of the pipe/hose a primary factor in maximizing energy.

Several air compressors are usually used in conjunction with one another to create a distribution system that carries the compressed air as power to different points. The air is then conceived as energy for a mechanical tool.[12]

2002 Ingersoll-Rand P185WJD Skid Mounted Air Compressor

[edit] Types of Compression Temperatures

Adiabatic compression occurs when the volume of air changes without a necessary change in heat temperature.

Isothermal compression occurs when the temperature does not change but there is a change in the volume of air.

Intercoolers are used in between the stages of compression to help reduce the air temperature and remove moisture from the air.

Aftercoolers allow compressors to cool the air after it is discharged. If moisture is not removed from the air, it runs the risk of freezing in the process of expanding, sometimes causing the oil used to lubricate tools to wash away and become less effective.

Air Receivers are also used to equalize the pulsations being produced from the compressor. This removes any water and oil vapors that have accumulated during the process. The volume of the air receivers should be at 1/10 to 1/6 to that of the compressor.[13]

[edit] Distribution System

A distribution system is installed to make the most of compressed air for large-scale construction applications. When compressed air travels from its point of origination to the tool in question, the pressure drops, causing a loss of power. The distribution system aims to reduce the loss of power using pipes that are large enough so that pressure does not extend more than 10 percent of the original pressure amount. Shorter hoses can be used, which means less pressure escaping.

When a project requires a significant amount of compressed air per minute, an air manifold can assist with this. Air manifolds have pipes that are much larger in diameter and allow compressed air to pass through different systems without the fear of “friction-line loss”.[14]

[edit] Types

Compressors can come in many different types with select features. They can be either stationary or portable. Stationary compressors are best used for applications that endure long periods from a fixed site, whereas portable ones are used on sites where there is constant movement. Portable compressors are made so with the use of rubber tires, steel wheels or skids and are powered by gas or diesel engines. The most common type of portable compressor used for construction projects is the rotary screw compressor.

Compressors can provide a flow of power that is intermittent, also known as positive-displacement, or a continuous flow of power, which is seen in centrifugal and axial flow (for fluids).

2001 Atlas Copco XASE1600GD Portable Air Compressor

[edit] Positive-displacement Compressors

[edit] Rotary Screw Compressors

Rotary screw compressors are the most common compression systems used for automobiles. They consist of two helical rotor screws to push gas (air) into a small environment. The air is compressed when it enters the confined space allotted for it. The advantages of this type of compressor are its light weight, compactness, and low maintenance. It is best suited for applications that involve air-powered tools that require a more uniform flow of power.[15]

[edit] Reciprocating Compressors

Reciprocating compressors achieve compression with pistons that reciprocate inside tandem cylinder(s). This type of compressor is used when high compression ratios are needed without a high flow rate.[16] Reciprocating compressors usually power devices that require lower speeds.

[edit] Rotary Vane Compressors

Rotary vane compressors have blades located inside the rotor that slide in and out of pockets. The Rotor blades are what achieve compression. Rotary vane compressors can have multi-stages, where the preferred pressure is produced after several stages. It can also come in portable or stationary compressors.

[edit] Scroll Compressors

Scroll compressors have spiral vanes to compress air. In this scenario, one of the vanes are stationary while the other moves, creating an energy of compressed air.

[edit] Dynamic Compressors (Continuous Flow)

[edit] Centrifugal Compressors

The centrifugal compressor is a device that increases the volume with the use of velocity to rotate a row of vanes or impellers. Air makes its way into the impeller and is spun while inside the centrifugal device and released by the force of the centrifugal’s velocity. They are beneficial to construction companies because they are generally low in cost but have a low ratio of pressure capacity (4:1).

[edit] Axial Flow Compressors

Axial flow compressors]] consist of either rotor or rotating blades, and fixed or stator blades. A “stage” occurs when a row of rotor blades pass through the stator blades. Air is pushed through the back of the stator vanes, using this velocity to produce energy. The pressure ratio is typically 1:2:1 but can increase as stages continue.[17]

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] Additional Photos

Atlas Copco XAHS365MD Air Compressor
2003 Sullair 185HDPQ Portable Air Compressor

[edit] References

  1. Pneumatic. 2008-09-24.
  2. Air Compressors. E Compressed Air. 2008-09-24.
  3. Pneumatic. 2008-09-24.
  4. Air Compressors. E Compressed Air. 2008-09-24.
  5. Pneumatic. 2008-09-24.
  6. Pneumatic. 2008-09-24.
  7. History. Ingersoll Rand. 2008-09-24.
  8. Info. Gimmerschmidt. 208-09-24.
  9. Underhood. Airteksystems. 2008-09-24.
  10. Rotary. Ingersoll Rand. 2009-09-24.
  11. All News. Atlas Copco. 2008-09-24.
  12. Peurifoy, Robert and Schexnayder, Clifford. Construction, Planning, Equipment, and Method. McGraw Hill: New York, 2002.
  13. Peurifoy, Robert and Schexnayder, Clifford. Construction, Planning, Equipment, and Method. McGraw Hill: New York, 2002.
  14. Peurifoy, Robert and Schexnayder, Clifford. Construction, Planning, Equipment, and Method. McGraw Hill: New York, 2002.
  15. Peurifoy, Robert and Schexnayder, Clifford. Construction, Planning, Equipment, and Method. McGraw Hill: New York, 2002.
  16. Adam Davis, Noria Corporation, "Reciprocating Compressor Basics". Machinery Lubrication Magazine. July 2005
  17. The Compressor. Aox. 2008-09-24.