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gas compressor is a mechanical device that increases the pressure of a gas by reducing
its volume
Positive Displacement Type:
In this type of compressors, air is physically trapped between to relatively
moving components and forced to occupy lower volume, thereby increasing its

Most notable example would be, a reciprocating compressor. In which air is

trapped between piston and cylinder volume and then literally pressed to
increase its pressure.

Non-Positive Displacement Type:

In this type, a rotating component imparts its kinetic energy to the air which is
eventually converted into pressure energy.

Centrifugal compressors are non-positive displacement type. Rotating impeller

imparts KE to the air which is converted to PE as air passes through the diffuser.

The term 'positive displacement' emphasizes the fact that a volume is physically
being displaced, whereas there is no physical displacement in centrifugal pumps.

Another point of interest is the output of these pumps. Since constant volume is
being displaced by the moving part every time, the flow output of a positive
displacement pump is always constant. Whereas, in non-positive displacement
type, the output fluctuates with the speed of rotation of impeller (as there is
nothing physically forcing the air through).

Reciprocating Air Compressors

Reciprocating air compressors are positive displacement machines, meaning that they
increase the pressure of the air by reducing its volume. This means they are taking in
successive volumes of air which is confined within a closed space and elevating this air to a
higher pressure. The reciprocating air compressor accomplishes this by a piston within a
cylinder as the compressing and displacing element.
Single-stage and two-stage reciprocating compressors are commercially available.

Single-stage compressors are generally used for pressures in the range of 70 psig to
100 psig.

Two-stage compressors are generally used for higher pressures in the range of 100
psig to 250 psig.

Note that

1 HP ~ 4 CFM at 100 psi

and that 1 to 50 HP are typically for reciprocating units. Compressors 100 hp and above are
typically Rotary Screw or Centrifugal Compressors.
The reciprocating air compressor is single acting when the compressing is accomplished
using only one side of the piston. A compressor using both sides of the piston is
considered double acting.
Load reduction is achieved by unloading individual cylinders. Typically this is accomplished
by throttling the suction pressure to the cylinder or bypassing air either within or outside the
compressor. Capacity control is achieved by varying speed in engine-driven units through
fuel flow control.
Reciprocating air compressors are available either as air-cooled or water-cooled in
lubricated and non-lubricated configurations and provide a wide range of pressure and
capacity selections.

Rotary Screw Compressors

Rotary air compressors are positive displacement compressors. The most common rotary
air compressor is the single stage helical or spiral lobe oil flooded screw air compressor.
These compressors consist of two rotors within a casing where the rotors compress the air
internally. There are no valves. These units are basically oil cooled (with air cooled or water
cooled oil coolers) where the oil seals the internal clearances.
Since the cooling takes place right inside the compressor, the working parts never
experience extreme operating temperatures. The rotary compressor, therefore, is a
continuous duty, air cooled or water cooled compressor package.
Rotary screw air compressors are easy to maintain and operate. Capacity control for these
compressors is accomplished by variable speed and variable compressor displacement. For
the latter control technique, a slide valve is positioned in the casing. As the compressor
capacity is reduced, the slide valve opens, bypassing a portion of the compressed air back
to the suction. Advantages of the rotary screw compressor include smooth, pulse-free air
output in a compact size with high output volume over a long life.
The oil free rotary screw air compressor utilizes specially designed air ends to compress air
without oil in the compression chamber yielding true oil free air. Oil free rotary screw air
compressors are available air cooled and water cooled and provide the same flexibility as oil
flooded rotaries when oil free air is required.

Centrifugal Compressors
The centrifugal air compressor is a dynamic compressor which depends on transfer of
energy from a rotating impeller to the air.
Centrifugal compressors produce high-pressure discharge by converting angular momentum
imparted by the rotating impeller (dynamic displacement). In order to do this efficiently,
centrifugal compressors rotate at higher speeds than the other types of compressors. These
types of compressors are also designed for higher capacity because flow through the
compressor is continuous.
Adjusting the inlet guide vanes is the most common method to control capacity of a
centrifugal compressor. By closing the guide vanes, volumetric flows and capacity are
The centrifugal air compressor is an oil free compressor by design. The oil lubricated running
gear is separated from the air by shaft seals and atmospheric vents.
An axial compressor is a machine that can continuously pressurise gases. It is a rotating, airfoilbased compressor in which the gas or working fluid principally flows parallel to the axis of
rotation. This differs from other rotating compressors such as centrifugal compressors, axicentrifugal compressors and mixed-flow compressors where the fluid flow will include a "radial
component" through the compressor. The energy level of the fluid increases as it flows through
the compressor due to the action of the rotor blades which exert a torque on the fluid. The
stationary blades slow the fluid, converting the circumferential component of flow into pressure.
Compressors are typically driven by anelectric motor or a steam or a gas turbine