How Does a Reciprocating Compressor Work?

Basics of a Compressor

A compressor increases the pressure of a gas. It reduces the volume of the gas and increases its density without turning that gas into a liquid. Compressors can do this in a number of ways. However, the commonality between all compressors is the fact that they all use some sort of fuel, such as gasoline or electricity, to power whatever compression method they use. Also, because the compressor increases the pressure on the gas, it increases the temperature of the gas. Many other types of compressors are used for various chemicals and fuels that require compression.

Components of a Reciprocating Compressor

A reciprocating compressor uses pistons to compress air. The compressor has a similar design to an internal combustion engine; it even looks similar. There is a central crankshaft that drives anywhere from two to six pistons inside cylinders. The crankshaft is generally driven by an external motor. This motor can be electric or internal combustion. However, it determines the total horsepower of the compressor.

Compressing the Gas

As the pistons draw back, gas is injected from an intake valve in the compressor. This gas is injected into the cylinders of the pistons, and is then compressed by the reciprocating action of the pistons. The gas is then discharged either to be used immediately by a pneumatic machine, or stored in compressed air tanks. However, the gas must be stored or used directly from the compressor to prevent it from losing its pressurization.

About the Author

David Scott has been a firefighter for the Seattle Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team for almost 20 years. He has been writing primarily since 2005, but did author the book, "The White River Ranger District Trail Guide" in 1988. In addition to his work for Demand Studios, Scott spends much of his time writing poetry and a novel.

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!