What is Reciprocating Air Compressor?

Air compressors are now being used for a wide variety of tasks and activities. You see them being used everywhere due to their unbeatable versatility and superior efficiency. This makes the understanding of the air compressor’s Home Garage necessary. Air compressors are machines that create changes in pressure. They work by enhancing the pressure. In doing so, the volume of air is drastically reduced.

Reciprocating air compressors are now on a boom. Therefore, most of us need to know what a reciprocating air compressor really is. Well, we have got all covered for you. From its working principle to its types, we have explained everything in detail. Read on to know everything about reciprocating air compressors. 

All about Reciprocating Compressors

If you have a task that requires the cooling required to be high, the reciprocating compressor is your best pick. Having close resemblance to the working of internal combustion engines due to the use of the piston, they enhance the pressure of the fluid, air in this case, by reducing the volume.

The piston performs a back and forth movement, sucking up the air and then releasing it. This is done through the valves provided. These valves are termed suction valves and released valves respectively. Once, it compresses the air, it releases that to the condenser to repeat the cycle. 

Reciprocating air compressors come under the positive displacement type machines. The main part of this compressor is the piston. It is responsible for compressing the air which results in an increase in pressure and a decrease in volume. 

The word displacement is included in the name due to the reason that the piston makes a displacement covering the area to reduce the volume of the air. The air is first sucked in and then the compressor. After the chamber releases the compressed air, the next air enters the chamber to be compressed. 

Working Principle of Reciprocating Air Compressor 

In order to understand the working principle of the reciprocating air compressor, visualize it as a chamber. The movement of the piston which is a part inside the chamber is from top dead center to bottom dead center. The top dead center is the highest point the piston can go to during displacement and the bottom dead center is the lowest point the piston can displace itself. It leaves a little space on both sides which is termed as clearance. 

The chamber includes the suction valve, discharge valve, and piston. Outside the discharge valve is a storage tank. When the piston is at the bottom dead center, it takes in the air through the suction valve. This air pushes the piston to the top dead center. After which the piston moves up, compressing the air. 

 This compressed air is present at a pressure higher than atmospheric pressure. This additional pressure will be responsible for the opening of the discharge valve. As soon as that limit is achieved, the discharge valve is opened. The compressed air flows out of the discharge valve, directly into the storage tank provided.  

Major Parts of the Reciprocating Air Compressor 

  • Piston: It moves back and forth in the cylinder. It serves to compress air by reducing the volume. 
  • Connecting Rods: It connects the top surface of the cylinder with the piston. 
  • Suction valve: It is the valve where the air enters at atmospheric pressure. 
  • Discharge valve: It is the valve where the compressed air is discharged into the storage tank. 
  • Cylinder: It is the main chamber where piston, connecting rod, valves, and other equipments are. It provides a closed covering for the air to be compressed. 
  • Rings: They are used to perfectly protect the equipment and provide a solid joining.  
  • Pulleys: It is the mechanical component that diminishes the frictional effects. 

Reciprocating Air Compressor Types

There are 4 types of reciprocating air compressors that are in use today. They are classified as 

  • Single-stage reciprocating air compressors
  • Double-stage reciprocating air compressors 
  • Single-acting reciprocating air compressors 
  • Double acting reciprocating air compressors 

Single-Stage Reciprocating Air Compressors 

The single-stage reciprocating air compressor uses only one cylinder in order to compress the air. The whole procedure is done using only one cylinder. It uses the suction valve to suck the air and then releases it after compressing it with the help of the piston. This is done in just two strokes. 

Double-stage Reciprocating Air Compressors 

Double stage reciprocating air compressor uses two cylinders to accomplish the compression of the air. Therefore, the process is broken down into two stages. The air is sucked and then compressed to some degree in the first chamber. It then leaves for the second chamber which further compresses the fluid after which it is released. 

Single Acting Reciprocating Air Compressor 

Single-acting reciprocating air compressors use half of the piston surface area for the compression. The rest is left for connections. Therefore, the name single-acting. Since only half of the face will perform the job of compressing the air. 

Double Acting Reciprocating Air Compressor

Double-acting reciprocating compressors employ the whole face of the piston for suction and compression. It doesn’t leave half of the side as in single-acting air compressors. Therefore, the whole piston face will compress the air coming in through the suction valve. Hence the name, double-acting compressors. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does a reciprocating air compressor work?

They work by moving back and forth. The devices enhance the pressure to enhance the fluid. They come under the category of piston displacement devices. 

2. What are reciprocating compressors used for?

They are used for a wide variety of tasks. Their versatility is exceptional. They move the fluid which is later stored in them for different tasks. 

3. What is the difference between a normal compressor and a reciprocating compressor?

The difference between a normal compressor and a reciprocating one is based on their working principle. While the reciprocating ones are generally classified as positive displacement which introduces changes in pressure by moving back and forth in the cylinder, the rotary one has a defined circular area.