Compressed air is an excellent medium for storing and transmitting energy. Compared to others, it has flexibility, versatility, and relative safety.
Compressed air is a form of energy that provides an unmatched range of applications, combining speed, power, precision, and safe operation. These characteristics make compressed air indispensable in many cases.
What is Compressed Air?
Compressed air is conventional air, and a compressor reduces its volume. Like ordinary air, compressed air is mainly made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and water vapor. When air is compressed, heat is generated, and air pressure increases.
Compressed air is usually generated by electricity. About 10% of the total electricity consumption in the industry can be attributed to compressed air production.
The atmosphere and compressed air consist of:
- 78% nitrogen
- 20-21% oxygen
- 1-2% water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases
- When compressed, the "composition" does not change; only the space occupied by these particles’ changes.
How Is It Done?
Air can be compressed in two easy steps:
Step 1: Air is contained in a cylinder, reservoir, or equivalent tank.
Step 2: The chamber pressures in the storage tank, forcing the air molecules into a closed area.
The compressed air is still low, waiting to expand again until you can use it.
Reciprocating air compressors are very likely to exhibit compressed air action, in which case the piston pushes air into the cylinder.
The compressor, however, may not be the only method to push air into a confined room.
There are several varieties of air compressors on the market, each of which has its benefits and drawbacks. With over 50 years of expertise, Hydrovane provides rigorously tested and reliable compressors.
For example, a rotary screw compressor uses a double rotary screw to push and compress air.
Regardless of the mechanism used, the air is always compressed by sucking from the atmosphere and compressing it, thus condensing and increasing the particles' pressure.
What Causes Pressure in Compressed Air?
Have you seen what happens when a busy elevator opens? When the door suddenly opens, everyone runs out and leaves? The compressed air would do the same thing.
While particles in compressed air can be concentrated in a small space, they may not usually remain in one position. They will disperse as quickly as possible in the first second. This is what causes stress.
The atmosphere is at a pressure of one bar, but it can be forced to reach 6004 PSI (414 bar) when compressed to a low state. The experiment determines the precise position of the compressed air.
The following three theoretical principles clarify air pressure:
- In the first law of thermodynamics, an increase in the pressure lifts the temperature and increases the temperature.
- Boyle's law explains that if the amount of air is reduced by half during compression, the pressure will double.
- Charles' law states that air volume is directly proportional to temperature variations.
- These three laws together state clearly that volume, pressure, and temperature are relative to each other.
The air volume and pressure can be regulated and increased as desired after implementing this formula to an air compressor.
The compressed air pressure varies between 14 PSI and 6004 PSI (1 to 414 bar), and the flow rate is greater than or equal to 3.5 CFM (0.1 m3) cubic feet per minute.
Thankfully, most persons do not need to recall this equation or use it. Instead, adjust the ideal pressure on the air compressor and let technology do the work.
What Are the Benefits of Compressing Air?
For several purposes, compressed air is a widely known energy system. The main advantages of using air compressors are:
- Increase your productivity
- Cheap power supply
- Safe and easy to use
- Energy saving
- Low operating costs
- Multifunctional tools and applications
- Compact, lightweight, and easy to transport
- Reduce the theft rate
Why Do We Need Compressed Air?
Compressed air can be described as the fourth practical tool. While compressed air may not be as widespread as the use of electricity, gas, or oil, it plays a vital role throughout energy sources.
It plays an essential role in most modern production processes and modern civilization.
While you may not realize it, most of the products we use today are made at some point with compressed air. Compressed air represents approximately 10% of the current global energy used by industry.
The significant difference between compressed air and other forms of energy is that consumers can conveniently generate air and choose how to produce it.
Air compressors can fulfill a variety of different requirements and expectations. Many applications in various environments depend on pneumatic air.
An air compressor (with the appropriate accessories) can be configured to compress air to a specific pressure, flow rate, and quality.
Are they Safe?
When it comes to energy, compressed air is pure, safe, quick, and useful. By using compressed air as the medium, there are no dangerous fumes or other harmful by-products. It is a non-flammable and non-polluting tool.
However, if the air tank is not used or maintained correctly, compressed air can be dangerous. Operators should then still obey the manufacturer's defined instructions.
Here is a guide for the proper maintenance and repair of air compressors.
Can they explode?
A gas tank containing compressed air can explode. However, this situation is infrequent and often occurs when the operator is not looking after the gas tank.
Corrosion is the leading cause of the explosion of the air compressor oil tank. When the operator does not drain the water in the water tank, it can corrode, weakening the water tank. Thus, compressed air can break it easily.
Poorly-produced goods or production faults are the second major source of tank explosions. For example, a gas tank without a proper safety valve can cause overpressure and explode. Cooperation with reputable gas tank manufacturers should prevent such explosions.
Loading and unloading imperfectly can cause the compressor to explode. Check out how to properly load/unload an air compressor.
Can They Kill You?
It is safe to use compressed air if it is done correctly. However, it can be risky and even deadly to work with compressed air or use it in unusual ways.
Here are several instances in which compressed air can harm (even kill) or badly injure individuals:
- Compressed air entering the skin will obstruct veins and arteries and can cause a stroke.
- Breathing compressed air can rupture the lungs or esophagus.
- Compressed air entering the ear can rupture the eardrum and damage the brain.
- Compressed air pulls the eyes out of the sockets.
While all of these situations are rare, they are also possible. There is no reason to direct compressed air at people, including yourself. You can completely prevent these injuries.
Do not wash clothes, blow dust, or playfully hit your friends with compressed air. It is not safe to do so at all.
Canned air can also kill people when it is inhaled or swallowed. However, the chemicals in the cans are the hazard, not the air itself. Inhaling chemicals is never a good idea.
So, yeah, both compressed air and canned air might kill you, but only if you misuse it.