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Water lubricates `active air` compressor

01 January, 2004

Water lubricates `active air` compressor

CompAir has developed an oil-free, single-screw compressor that uses water as its lubricant and is claimed to have the lowest energy consumption in its class. The DH series compressor takes the company into the "active air" market for the first time, producing high-quality air for direct use in industries such as pharmaceuticals, electronics and precision engineering.

At the heart of the new compressors is a single-stage, single-screw, water-injected compression element (shown at the bottom right in the cutaway view above) which delivers 12 pulses of air per revolution, compared to six from a conventional screw. This, together with the elimination of metal-to-metal mating parts, results in low levels of vibration and noise.

Purified water injected into the compression element, seals, cools and lubricates the process. The compressor includes an on-board water purification system that removes dissolved salts, minerals and organisms, improving the water`s cooling performance and limiting the temperature rise across the compression element to just 15°C.

Initially, the compressor will be available in 15, 22 and 37kW models, driven by Eff1 motors. The range will soon be expanded to cover ratings from 11-132kW, with the larger compressors being driven by high-efficiency switched reluctance variable speed drives.

Andy Pulley, product manager for the new family, claims that not only will it be the most efficient range of oil-free rotary products on the market, but its low energy and maintenance costs will result in lower life-time costs than other compressors in this size range. "Not only is the air produced totally oil-free," he adds, "but there is no oil used in the compressor at all". The compressors use sealed, maintenance-free bearings and have 4,000-hour service intervals.

The active air sector represents about a fifth of the compressor market. Nick Sanders, CompAir`s chief executive, is confident that the new range will be "a real world-beater".

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