What is Compressed Air? An Ultimate Explanation

what is compressed air

This article will define compressed air and describe its products.

Utilizing compressed air allows you to power various pieces of machinery, pieces of equipment, and processes. Most manufacturing and some service industries use compressed air, frequently in situations where it would be unsafe or impractical to directly power tools and equipment with electricity.

To learn more about compressed air, read this article.

What is Compressed Air?

Greater than atmospheric pressure is what is referred to as compressed air. Everything about it is identical to the air you breathe, with the exception that it has been compressed and maintained under pressure.

The percentages of nitrogen and oxygen in the air are 78%, 21%, and 1%, respectively, along with water vapor. The air is still composed of the same mixture of gases when compressed, but the molecules will now be closer together because of the smaller volume.

Compressed air is an excellent medium for energy transmission and can be stored at high pressure. Compared to other options like steam and batteries, compressed air is a more convenient and safe energy source. Batteries and steam are both undesirable options because they both get very hot and can be dangerous.

Compressed air can be stored easily, is safe to use, and has a wide range of applications.

what is compressed air

How is Air Compressed?

Compressors for air are used to compress the air. Air compressors take in air through an inlet valve, compress the air to the necessary volume, and then release the pressurized air through a discharge valve into a storage tank. An electric motor typically powers the compression process.

There are two types of air displacement which a compressed air system may operate upon:

  • Positive Displacement – Positive displacement compressors are the most popular type of compression, forcing air into a small area typically by means of the movement of a mechanical device.
  • Dynamic Displacement – Dynamic displacement compressors accelerate the air to high velocity in contrast to positive displacement compressors, which physically reduce the volume of captured air. As a result, more energy is produced, increasing air pressure.

Benefits of Using Compressed Air

  • Low maintenance costs
  • Can handle high loads over long periods without the risk of overheating
  • Easy to store
  • Easy to transport
  • Can be used in manufacturing processes that demand a high level of cleanliness

Many people believe that compressed air is a clean, secure energy source that can be used for a variety of different industrial applications.

Compressed Air Costs

what is compressed air

You can learn more about the price of compressed air production and its use in this section.

The operating cost (electricity and maintenance) for a typical air-cooled compressor over its first ten years of operation with two shifts will be roughly 88% of the overall cost. The remaining 12% will be made up of the price of the initial equipment and installation.

It is critical to design and buy the most energy-efficient parts for your compressed air system because energy makes up roughly 76% of the total lifetime operating costs. It is advised to base decisions about purchases NOT just on the equipment’s initial cost but also on the total anticipated lifetime operating costs.

Some commercial compressors use water cooling. In such situations, it is necessary to assess the additional sewer and water fees, chilled water system operating costs, pumping costs, and chemical treatment.

To account for the maintenance and life cycle capital cost (purchase price) of the compressed air system, add approximately 25% to the annual compressed air electricity cost.

For example, a 50 HP compressor operating for one shift would cost approximately $8,600 for electricity alone, and approximately an additional $2,150 for maintenance and capital costs, for a total of $10,750.

The majority of facilities can easily reduce their compressed air energy costs by 10–20% by performing regular maintenance tasks like fixing air leaks, reducing air pressure, and changing clogged filters. Improved compressor control, more storage receiver capacity, and improved air dryers and filters can all result in even greater cost savings.

You Might Also Like: Compressed Air Energy Storage: Things to Know

Why Do We Use Compressed Air?

Utilizing air compression rather than electricity is one of the most crucial factors for safety. Electrical equipment presents a safety risk in applications where equipment is overloaded. Property damage or personnel injuries could result from electrical shocks or fire.

We have introduced other compressed-air products:

Pneumatic tools and compressed air can be used in a variety of settings, such as on wet floors or in places with high humidity.

what is compressed air

Additionally, compressed air has greater flexibility. Remote locations like mines and building sites are easier to use. Air tools have the benefit of variable speed and torque while operating cooler. Think about rock drills or other impact-type machinery. Electricity cannot be used to create an equivalent force, especially in remote locations.

Compressed air-powered tools are also lighter in weight. The cost of air can be balanced with the cost of labor because using these lighter tools results in less worker fatigue. They can be made of materials that make them lightweight and ergonomic.

The price comes last. Compressed air can cost up to seven to eight times as much as electricity. The cost of equipment made to use compressed air is lower, though. The simplicity of the design results in the use of fewer parts. Additionally, pneumatic tools typically last longer in production environments and are durable.

You might not be aware that compressed air is considered the fourth utility. Of course, we all probably use gas, electricity, and water in our daily lives. Compressed air, however, is regarded by both small and large businesses as the fourth utility due to its widespread use.

Compressed Air Power Versus Electricity

  • Air tools run cooler
  • Air tools have a higher power-to-weight ratio
  • Air tools have no shock risk
  • Air tools have fewer parts and require less maintenance

Compressed Air Power Versus Hydraulic

  • Air systems generally have fewer parts
  • Air systems generally cost less
  • Air systems are less of a fire hazard
  • Air systems are more dirt-tolerant
  • Air systems are more tolerant of leakage

Conclusion: What is Compressed Air

Every day, compressed air is used by nine out of ten industries. A significant and well-integrated component of many production processes, compressed air serves as an energy source for a variety of tools and equipment.

In order to create movements and lift, or to clean, move, or cool materials, compressed air is frequently used with air blow guns, air nozzles, and air knives.

Please leave your questions and comments below if you have any more queries about compressed air.


Is Compressed Air Just Oxygen?

The air is compressed when atmospheric air is taken and subsequently physically compressed into a smaller volume. Nitrogen makes up 78% of both atmospheric and compressed air. 20-21% Oxygen.

What is the Purpose of Compressing Air?

Compressed air is used as an energy source and as active air. Pneumatic equipment like drills, hammers, wrenches, and grinders frequently use compressed air as an energy source.

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