When we think of utilities, the ones that spring to mind are generally electricity, gas and water. Air is the lesser known fourth utility and yet it plays a massive role in the world today. Compressed air can be utilised for a whole manner of different jobs; from simple jobs such as pumping up a bicycle tyre with a hand pump to rock drilling hammers for mining work. Users of compressed air generate it themselves and can therefore choose the way in which they do this.
Compressed air is an integral part of the manufacturing process and makes up 10% of all energy used in industry throughout the entire world. Many products that are produced using compressed air could not be made in any other way which is why it is so important in the modern world.
The concept of compressed air is the transition of one energy source into another. Air is in a compressed state when it is at a higher pressure than that of the atmosphere. Power is generated by the compressed air when it is released back into the atmosphere. The way in which the decompressing is employed can be controlled in various ways such as using different air tools, nozzles, air actuators and air motors.
There are a wide range of different uses for compressed air and depending on the process air compressors need to compress air to a certain pressure, at a certain flow and also deliver it at a certain quality. Filters and dryers are vital components for removing oil and water that contaminates the air. If the air is left untreated it could cause damage to the application when it is used. Once this process has been completed the air is then refined – meaning that it is cleansed of any impurities.
Once air has been compressed it is very easy to store. It is also non-flammable meaning that it is ideal for manufacturing any products that are flammable or explosive, as no sparks will be created. However, it is important that users of compressed air have appropriate training because compressed air can prove to be very dangerous when stored at the extremely high pressures needed for industrial use.