Reciprocating Compressors Are a Growing Trend
Reciprocating compressors play an important role in many different industries. Here’s a deeper look into how they work and what benefits they provide.
Despite being one of the most expensive types of compressors on the market, reciprocating compressors are becoming an increasingly popular choice.
With a larger start-up budget required to incorporate these components, it is clear that they must offer a considerable advantage over the other options available to companies, but just what exactly are the reasons for this? And as the main industries which currently use these compressors continue to evolve at an impressive rate, is this technology likely to be outdated at any time in the near future?
What Are Reciprocating Compressors?
A reciprocating or piston compressor is a machine that can distribute measured amounts of either a gas or a liquid at high speed. Using a piston to pressurize the holding chamber, the contents are then released under high pressure, which effectively injects them into their intended use. This delivery method offers reduced energy wastage compared to other types of compressors, as there is very little excess heat generated during the operation.
There are two main forms of this compressor which are differentiated by either being a continuous flow discharge or intermittent discharge. The continuous flow is achieved through the same design but with the use of two or more cylinders working alongside each other. It is most commonly associated with its use in supplying fuel to a vehicle’s engine.
Reciprocating compressors are much more prevalent than many people realize. They have applications that now spread across many industries, including chemical processing plants and oil refineries. However, two other industries are rapidly expanding that rely on these compressors at the heart of their operations.
PET Air Compressor Systems
One industry that has seen continued growth around the world is in polyethylene terephthalate, or PET as it’s commonly abbreviated. The formation of plastic bottles through blowing air into molds containing the molten PET has become a major industry, due to the sheer number of plastic bottles that are used every day and in every part of the world.
The modern PET industry has seen major compressor improvements in recent years, with newer designs achieving high production speeds using lower, more efficient blow pressure, a development that reduces the energy requirements and therefore has cheaper running costs. Another factor that lowers the running costs is the higher lifespan of the components which are used in the build of the compressor. New materials used in many of the moving parts and seals also provide an added robustness to the overall quality. This allows for not only fewer scheduled services on the equipment but also reduced overheads in technician costs.
With such a large industry now existing, there has become a lot of choice surrounding the type of compressor that can be employed in the production process. This gives businesses many considerations to take into account when setting up a new production plant and highlights not only how large the industry has become, but also how advanced the compressor market is developing.
Compressor Stations in Natural Gas
As natural gas industries have developed safer working environments, the number of companies looking to exploit this improved marketplace has grown dramatically in recent years.
Large industrial reciprocating compressors have become a key part of this advancement as they’re used in both the storage and the transportation of gas. As new technology has been applied to these compressors, they have not only become more reliable but also offer increased functionality such as vibration analysis and increased control over flow rates.
Not only can these new systems deliver more control, but they also run for much longer between maintenance checks, with some figures suggesting that other types of compressors require up to ten times more scheduled maintenance checks than piston compressors.
Another key area of service that provides an advantage for the reciprocating compressors is in the ease of maintenance with the new designs, allowing for quicker servicing and therefore smaller downtime in operating terms.
Although the piston compressor requires significantly less maintenance than a diaphragm compressor, it’s still an integral duty that must be carried out to extend the machine’s lifetime and prevent any major premature failures.
Due to the vast number of compressor types and the many nuances to setting up an optimized system between different workloads, it is possible to write a book on the practice of servicing a compressor. One important thing to remember when servicing these condensers is that whenever valves, pistons, or other components are changed, it is always advisable to replace the periphery components such as gas seals, springs, and pins at the same time.
Due to the fact that the compressor has moving parts that are placed under high pressure when in operation, the seals need to be treated with huge importance. Even though there have been major improvements in these parts during recent years, they still require care and attention.
Short Term Investment For Long Term Savings
Although reciprocating compressors do offer many benefits to businesses, a lot of these are based on high usage or can be specific to certain industry needs. As such it’s not worth discounting the other types of compressors on the market, and it’s always a worthwhile exercise comparing your needs against the relative merits and weaknesses that each design provides.
What the reciprocal compressor does offer, however, is an energy-efficient unit that has unrivaled reliability, albeit at a higher cost of purchase and installation.
With a product that is rapidly growing in popularity, there is a huge amount of investment continuously being made to still further the development of this compressor.
It is impossible to say what the future holds in terms of future technology, but for the moment it is clear that the main focus of many companies is the use of the reciprocal compressor due to the longevity that it offers. With many replacement parts companies manufacturing parts on-site, it is unlikely that there will ever be a shortage of support for these machines for a very long time, and until something better moves into the market, it looks like this compressor will continue to grow from strength to strength.
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