Gas Compression And Its Importance To Modern Industry

Today, the manipulation and storage of industrial gasses such as hydrogen and natural gas are among the many applications that high pressure gas compressors are utilized for. In fact, the ability to transport gas through pipelines or store pure gas, or pressurize aircraft cabins or to successfully transport heated gasses through refrigeration systems would be impossible without effective compression.

Gas Compressors: How They Function And The Different Types

A gas compressor is simply a mechanical device like a pump that reduces the volume of a given gas by way of high pressurization. This action will naturally cause the gas to undergo temperature increase through molecular friction. For this reason, gas compressors must be able to control heat and effectively vent it to prevent damage to the compression machinery and pipe couplings, and these components must be able to withstand high operating temperatures.

There are several different gas compressor types, each one ideal for specific industrial applications. Centrifugal gas compressors use vaned rotating disks in a shaped housing in order to increase the velocity of gas moving through the pipeline until it hits the diffuser where pressure increase occurs. These units are most often used in gas turbine engines, either as the primary compressor in small engines or the final stage compressor in larger gas turbines.

Diagonal/mixed-flow compressors are similar in design to centrifugal gas compressors but have the capability to change the flow direction mid-stream. Axial-flow compressors utilize a series of fan-like rotors to induce compression. Reciprocating compressors are the type most common to steam and internal combustion engines: using a piston driven by a crankshaft to achieve intermittent high-compression on a regular interval.

Rotary screw compressors are the type most often employed to power air-tools and automotive engine superchargers are based upon two helical screws to generate continuous compression. Scroll compressors use a pair of interleaved spiral vanes to pump or compress gases, and have a smoother and quieter operation than other compressor configurations.

High Pressure Diaphragm Compressors

The high pressure diaphragm compressor is the type most often used in heavy industrial applications involving hydrogen and natural gas. Movement of a flexible membrane on a mechanical driver does the job as opposed to a piston, rotors or vanes to squeeze gasses down to small volumes at 6000 psi. These are being used in prototype hydrogen and compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling stations for alternative-fuel vehicles such as gas-powered public buses and transport trucks.