What Are the Different Types of Air Compressors?

Air compressors have evolved over the years to play ever greater and more integral roles in a host of industries and applications. Whether it’s supplying reliable power to general manufacturing, automotive and aerospace production equipment or providing clean, contaminant-free pressurized air to the chemical, petrochemical, and food & beverage industries and more, the need for well-designed, affordable air compressors has steadily grown along with the industries they’re used in.

To describe these workhorse devices in the most basic terms, all air compressors share the primary function of converting some source of power — such as that coming from an electric motor, gasoline or diesel engine — into stored potential energy in the form of pressurized air. Beyond that description, however, several compressor types have been designed and manufactured over time, resulting in models with vastly different operational efficiencies, performance levels and service costs.

Types of Air Compressors

To explain the different types of air compressors, as well as why Kaishan air compressors stand out for their world-class reliability and low cost of ownership, here are some helpful descriptions:

  • Centrifugal: Unlike the next two types of air compressors, centrifugal compressors operate via a form of dynamic compression. They’re able to produce a highly pressurized discharge of air by means of a rotating impeller — a process referred to as dynamic displacement. To do this property, these types of compressors use very high-speed rotation. In addition, these are oil-free compressors, which means their oil-lubricated parts are separated from the pressurized air flow by vents and seals.
  • Reciprocating: One type of positive displacement compressor is the reciprocating air compressor, which uses a piston within a cylinder to successively pump — and as a result, displace — an increasing volume of air into an enclosed space until the upper operating limit is reached, and the pressurized air is stored and ready for use. Reciprocating compressors usually come in both single and two-stage models that offer varying levels of efficiency.
  • Rotary screw: Rotary screw air compressors also operate on positive displacement. However, unlike reciprocating compressors that need valves to operate, popular rotary screw compressors use a pair of spiral — or helical — screws that spin to smoothly and efficiently guide air into the pressurized chamber. Requiring less maintenance than reciprocating compressors and less energy to operate than continuously flowing centrifugal compressors, rotary screw compressors typically offer the highest efficiency, the least downtime and the quietest operation of the three.

Kaishan Compressor for World-Class Compressed Air Machinery

For over 60 years, Kaishan has been refining and growing its compressed air machinery manufacturing capabilities. Today, with a spirit driven by constant improvement and innovation, we’re one of the world’s leading single and two-stage rotary screw compressor manufacturers. Around the world, Kaishan compressors are known for their reliable operation, excellent energy efficiency and low overall cost of ownership.

We’re so confident in our products that our compressors’ main airend components are covered by a lifetime warranty, and other major components are covered by a five-year warranty.

For more information on air compressors and other Kaishan products, contact us today.

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