Factors Affecting Air Compressor Performance

5 Environmental Factors That Affect Air Compressor Performance

Several manufacturing industries utilize air compressor systems to supply the pressurized gases that drive their processes. Although this equipment typically improves productivity, various physical factors may undermine their performance. Consequently, operators who integrate air compressors in their processes must recognize these influences to mitigate them appropriately.

What Factors Affect an Air Compressor’s Performance of Flow Rate?

Like any other piece of industrial equipment, the efficiency of air compressor systems can be negatively influenced by various physical variables.

For a system that isn’t operated in a vacuum, factors that can affect the effectiveness of any given air compression system operating under standard conditions include:

  1. Altitude/elevation
  2. Ventilation of the industrial space
  3. Moisture levels in and around the machinery
  4. The ambient operating temperatures
  5. Presence of airborne contaminants

1. Altitude/Elevation

A critical determinant of air compressor performance is the altitude at which the equipment is operated. For example, the altitude or level of elevation at which a rotary screw air compressor is operated significantly affects overall performance.

As the altitude increases, the nominal atmospheric pressure will drop with a corresponding decrease in compression rates and a reduction in the approximate capacity of compressed gas delivered (measured in SCFM). Consequently, operators must consider the altitude at which their air compressor will be operating and make adequate calibrations to achieve maximal output.

2. Ventilation

In addition, the air compression process is associated with thermal changes. Reducing air volume to increase its pressure level releases significant heat of compression, which should be dissipated in the best interests of optimal device function. A well-ventilated environment is valuable in preventing the retention of heat around the air compression system.

An added benefit of maintaining a well-ventilated operating space is the protection of heat-sensitive process components. In addition, it also provides easier elimination of water vapor from the newly compressed air as the environment rapidly cools.

3. Moisture

The retention of water vapor in many industrial systems typically has detrimental effects on production outcomes. The presence of moisture-saturated air within and around air compression systems is no exception. In addition, there is the risk of corrosive damage, build-up of rust within the process equipment, and exposure to sensitive electrical parts. For these reasons, air compressors must be sited in areas where the build-up of moisture is difficult. If air compressors must be sited in high moisture environments, special precautions should be taken to actively maintain appropriate water vapor levels.

4. Temperature

Additionally, extreme temperatures can also have detrimental effects on industrial air compression systems. Very hot or very cold operating temperatures can damage sensitive compressor components and diminish equipment longevity. As a result, manufacturers typically state the temperature range at which the compressors should be operated. To prevent costly downtimes, compressor operators should maintain the ambient temperatures within their sites within the stated ranges.

5. Airborne Contaminants

Although most compressors have an external compartment and filters that shield them from most airborne contaminants (like dust, dirt, and other particulate materials), operators must maintain their equipment regularly. Every manufacturer has recommendations for how often filters should be cleaned or replaced. Adhering to these maintenance standards is vital to optimal air compressor performance.

Optimal Working Conditions for Air Compressors

Determining the optimal temperatures at which to operate an air compression system is a critical step in any industrial setup requiring a steady stream of compressed air to drive its processes. Now that we know the detrimental effects of temperature on air compressors, determining the optimal thermal conditions is pretty straightforward.

Atlas Copco air compressor

The ideal temperature for most air compressors lies between 50°F and 85°F. Within this range, compressor components do not run the risk of freezing or overheating. An informal method of assessing if your compressor is running within ideal thermal ranges is using normal body temperatures. For instance, if you’re feeling uncomfortably hot or shivering in standard work outfits within the vicinity of your air compressor, then the ambient temperature is probably unsuitable for the machine too.

Why Should You Use a Psychrometric Calculator?

A psychrometric calculator is a device that analyzes the properties of any given gas-vapor mix. This tool can determine the level of water suspended within the air being analyzed. Psychrometric calculators can be used to determine crucial operating parameters such as absolute and relative humidity as well as dewpoints.

Having considered various factors that could affect air compressor performance, the benefits of utilizing a psychrometric calculator are pretty obvious. Employing a psychrometric calculator can help compressor operators make the necessary adjustments to reduce the humidity of their processing environments and prevent moisture-related equipment damage.

Purchase High-Quality Air Compressors from NiGen

NiGen is an industry-leading supplier of industrial air compressors. We prioritize client satisfaction by providing a truly world-class experience. Our high-quality rotary screw air compressors can be easily modified to suit your unique process requirements. We also offer industrial air compressor rentals and spare parts. Regardless of your preference, NiGen is strategically placed to serve your needs.

To learn more about our custom gas generation solutions, please contact us today