Wednesday, August 24

Back to Compressed Air School Part 2: Compressed Air 101

Now that you have learned about the history of compressed air in our first “Back to Compressed Air School” blog post, let's discuss the general concept of modern air compressors. Air is considered the 4th utility that proves a source of power much like the other three: water, gas, and electricity. We will go over basic functions, applications, and parts in this post.

Basic Components

A typical compressed air system consists of much more than just an air compressor.  A full system needs an intake filter to trap particles before they reach the compressor, the actual compressor itself to pressurize the air, an aftercooler to cool the lubricant and discharge air, air receivers to provide ample storage for the compressed air, and an air dryer to remove moisture from the air.

Each of these components needs to be maintained consistently and can be individually purchased to make a complete system.

How Do Air Compressors Work?

Air compressors revolve around atmospheric air and pressure.  The compressed air system takes in the air around it and pressurizes it into potential energy that can be stored in a tank until it needs to be released.  When this newly pressurized air is released, it is converted into kinetic energy and can be used in a variety of applications such as filling up objects like car tires or supplying power to tools such as drills or spray guns.

To compress the air surrounding a compressor, the system needs to utilize a method of air displacement. This term means that the air internal compressor components must change position in some way to force air through the storage tank where it is stored until it is needed. There are 2 displacement methods: Positive Displacement and Dynamic Displacement.

Positive Vs. Dynamic Displacement

Positive Displacement is the most commonly used method.  Air is pulled into the chamber, a machine used its internal parts and reduces the volume in the chamber in order to compress the air, then the compressed air is now moved into a storage tank for later use. Piston, rotary-screw, and scroll compressors utilize positive displacement methods.

Dynamic Displacement utilizes rotating blades, also known as an impeller, to draw air into the chamber. The motion of the blades generates a lot of energy and thus builds up air pressure in a shorter period of time.  This method is commonly used when larger volumes of air are required are quicker speeds such as industrial applications.

In our last “Back to Compressed Air School” blog post we will discuss different air compressor types and mechanisms, stay tuned!



Zorn is the Midwest leader of custom, engineered compressed air and vacuum solutions. We provide the best customer experience by understanding your applications and needs and offering an unparalleled commitment to customer satisfaction. 

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Our compressed air experts look forward to meeting you to discuss your equipment and support needs. Please contact us directly at (262) 695-7000 with any questions or to schedule service for your system moving forward.

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