As with many specialized technical types of machinery, compressed air system design has its own levels of complexity. Air compressors are extremely common tools used in a variety of industries and there are plenty of people who use them regularly who have little more than a cursory knowledge of them.

Air tools are becoming increasingly popular and widely used. Even the Department of Energy believes that over 50% of compressed air distribution systems at small to mid-sized businesses have lost-cost energy conservation opportunities. But, beyond this, what actual types of air compression systems are out there? Let’s take a look.

Reciprocating Air Compressors

This air compressor works by positive displacement. Simply put, the air that enters the confines of the tank is then forced upward, which pressurizes it. A motorized piston is used to help pressurize the air in the tank, moving up and down in the tank throughout the process.

Rotary Screw Compressors

Where the piston within a reciprocating compressor is built for stop/start compression, the rotary screw compressor is not. They work with two screws inside the compressor casing spinning constantly. Built for continuous work, the spinning internal screws are being cooled by either air or water at all times, making them ideal for jobs where the show must go on.

Centrifugal Compressors

Remember middle school science? Centrifugal force is defined as the energy moving outward from something that’s spinning at its center. This compressor type has blades spinning inside it. As the air within gains momentum, it is diffused into pressure energy. This energy is then stored in a condenser. As the gas moves faster, this compressor type becomes more efficient.

These three basic types of air compressors can be broken into further specifications, depending on the requirements of your day-to-day work. With a little more advanced knowledge on what you need in your shop, you’ll be better able to ensure you’re not using the wrong compressor for certain jobs.

Read this and you’re not sure where to start? No problem. The professionals at Rapid Air Products can help you get started on the right foot. Contact us today and we’ll make sure you have all your compression questions answered.