All About Industrial Air Blowers

Air is important for all of us. We need it to live. But did you know blowers are also crucial in sustaining our lives?

We need blowers to decontaminate manufacturing processes for meat, poultry, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and beverages. We need them in wastewater treatment facilities to blow air into tanks to accelerate the process of reducing the harm the water can cause. In high-speed print manufacturing systems, we need air blowers to rapidly dry printed images. In coal mines, blowers are necessary for providing ventilation to enabler easier and healthier breathing for coal miners.

Blowers are used for these and many other applications around the world, in industries ranging from metal processing to cement production to petrochemicals and more. These devices create processes that are more energy efficient, productive, safe, economical, and reliable.

Difference between air blowers and air compressors?

A typical blower can look quite similar to an air compressor. However, these devices are fundamentally different.

Think of an air blower as a fan that blasts large quantities of air continuously from one location to another, at faster speeds than a typical house fan. Used for heating, cooling, ventilating, and transporting, blowers produce lots of air in order to create additional airflow, but at a relatively low pressure compared with an air compressor.

By contrast, an air compressor squeezes more air into a smaller space at higher pressure intensity than an air blower. It actually makes the air denser. The purpose is to provide intense pressure to enable tools and applications to work with powerful force.

Types of blowers?

Rotary Lobe Blowers (aka Roots Blower): Rotary lobe blowers consist of two rotors spinning in opposite directions. The blower sucks in air, and the lobes spin the air around before pushing the air out. They produce a high volume of air but at low pressure. Although rotary lobe blowers require minimal maintenance, they let some air escape. As such, this is not the most energy-efficient option, especially when compared to screw blowers. Since they were invented in the 1800s, rotary lobe blower technology hasn't changed too much. The main advancements have been focused on noise reduction.

Rotary Screw Blowers: The rotary screw blower combines male and female rotors that rotate and decrease the available volume between them. This causes the air to compress. At the start of the compression cycle, the inlet air fills the flute space and becomes trapped. The air is then continually compressed as the male and female rotors rotate with each revolution until the air pushes through the discharged outlet. Compared with traditional lobe blowers, the internal compression of rotary screw blowers reduces energy consumption by 30 percent. By eliminating pulses caused by lobe technology, screw blower noise levels are typically three-to-five times quieter than conventional tri-lobe blowers.

Centrifugal Blowers: When an air stream passes through this blower’s rotating impellers, the speed and volume increase. Centrifugal blowers actually change the airflow’s direction. The air or gas enters the fan wheel, turns 90 degrees, and accelerates before exiting the blower.

Multistage Centrifugal Blower: Used for creating pressure, circulating air, and creating suction, this blower can handle high pressure and high flow rates. It is ideal for creating high pressure from small volumes of air. As such, the devices are well suited for all operations where a variable flow at constant pressure is a requirement. Performance characteristics of these blowers generate a variable flow and power at a constant speed. To generate more flow, the impeller diameters need to be increased; more impellers are required to create more pressure.

What Industries & Applications Are Blowers Used In?

Food and Beverage: includes meat processing, poultry, dairy product manufacturing.

Wastewater Treatment: the wastewater is introduced to millions of bacteria in the aeration tank. The bacteria feed on the organic waste and break down the wastewater into harmless byproducts of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water. Because the bacteria need oxygen to survive, large quantities of compressed air are blown into the aeration tanks to speed up the activated sludge process.

Pneumatic Conveying: used to move any dry bulk material, including powders, granular forms, chips and pellets

Mining: provides ventilation into coal mines; removes methane gas from underground coal mine basins in a process called methane gas extraction

Cement Manufacturing: blowers aerate the air cement silos, ensure that the raw material remains in motion, cool the mixture after leaving the kiln, and feeds oxygen to the fire

What to ask before buying a piston air compressor...

When you think of an air compressor, chances are that a piston compressor (also called a reciprocating compressor) is the one that springs to mind. The oldest and most common of all industrial compressors, piston compressors can be configured in a variety of ways, including one-stage and two-stage, oil-free and oil-injected, and splash lubricated and pressure lubricated.

If you’re on the market for a new air compressor and believe that a piston compressor could be for you, here are 3 questions to consider before making your purchase:

Does an electric or gas piston compressor fit my application best?

For applications where the compressor will be stationary and located indoors, an electric piston compressor will be a good fit! They are also a good choice when noise and/or ventilation is a concern, as they do not produce emissions and aren’t as noisy as their gas-powered counterparts. Electric piston compressors are common in auto-body shops and repair/maintenance applications.

If your application requires mobility, then a gas-powered piston compressor will be a better fit, given that these don’t require a source of electricity. These are typically the portable compressors you see at construction sites & attached to the back of work trucks.


Is an oil-free or oil-injected piston compressor more suitable for my work environment?

This depends on the purity level of the air that your application requires. If high-quality air is required, including any applications where contact with oil would result in spoilage or contamination of the end-product, then an oil-free compressor is likely the optimal choice. For those applications where trace oil in the delivered air isn’t an issue, an oil-injected piston compressor will be suitable.

Oil-free compressors are typically used in paint shops, breweries, and dental labs, while oil-injected compressors are found in woodworking and metalworking shops, auto shops, and industrial/manufacturing shops.


What size of piston compressor should I purchase?

Location and space considerations, stationary or portable needs, and overall required CFM output are all factors that go into sizing a piston compressor for your application. However, the key item to keep in mind is that if your air compressor is undersized as compared to the application’s needs, then oil leaks, overheating, and pump failure can be the result.

However, if you size your compressor appropriately, then it will be able to fill the air demand without issue, as well as cycle and cool down before having to cycle back on.  

 

Interested in purchasing a piston compressor? You can shop our selection online, or reach out to our piston compressor experts. They’ll be happy to assist!

Top Compressed Air Myths - Busted!

We’re rounding up and debunking our list of the top ten myths that surround compressed air. Read on for the myth-busting!

Myth #1: System-wide pressure increases raises productivity levels. False! The amount of pressure in one area of your facility might be too great – or too little – for another area. The most efficient operation is to increase and decrease pressure based on specific applications. This local regulation also averts premature failure of your tools and machinery.

Myth #2: Oil-free air is the “best” air. Not necessarily. This depends on the air purity requirements of your application. If the application requires extreme air purity, or in an application where the threat of contamination is too great, oil-free air compressors are likely an optimal choice.

Myth #3: Compressed air is extremely expensive. As with any power source (including electric & battery), compressed air can be expensive. However, compressed air costs can be greatly lowered through things like regular maintenance, energy recovery, properly sizing machines based on your applications, and staying up-to-date with compressor technology changes.

Myth #4: Routine air compressor maintenance isn’t required. Incorrect. Your air compressor system needs regular service and maintenance performed in order to function at optimal levels. Extending intervals beyond factory recommendations will increase the chances of your compressor breaking down – and your production to cease.

Myth #5: It’s safe to use compressed air to clean workspaces. Not in the slightest. Air compressors aren’t vacuums; instead of sucking up any dirt and debris, they would redistribute the particles – and at a high velocity. Cracks and small holes in furniture & walls, and even human injury, could result.

Myth #6: Patching air leaks, rather than repairing them, is an effective fix. Air leaks are a big problem that requires complete repairs. The air lost via these leaks reduces efficiency and raises your costs. And keep in mind that you may not be aware of all the leaks in your system – especially if they are not hissing.  

Myth #7: When choosing a compressor, pressure is the most important factor.In reality, both pressure and flow must be considered when selecting the air compressor that is best for your application.

Myth #8: Compressed air is dirty. In contrast, compressed air is typically on the cleaner side – especially with the addition of compressed air ancillaries like filters, dryers, and drains, as well as regular maintenance.

Myth #9: There is no difference between generic and the manufacturer’s replacement parts. Not really. Replacement parts sold by the manufacturer are produced with your specific unit in mind, which generic parts are only for generic use. Using parts that are not specifically made for your machine could decrease its performance, decrease service intervals,be incompatible with other system components, or even void warranty.

Myth #10: Using a VSD (variable speed drive) can increase oil carryover. Wrong – the two main causes of increasing oil carryover is lower pressure and higher temperature. Utilizing Atlas Copco’s VSD technology doesn’t contribute to this. 

LENS EQUIPMENT LIMITED is your # 1 source for Industrial Air Compressor Sales, Service, and Repair. Contact an expert for your free quote today!

Why choose preventive maintenance for your industrial air compressor?

In smaller businesses, standard maintenance is performed on an as-needed basis and usually involves equipment that works consistently until it expires or becomes outdated by newer technology

When it comes to an industrial air compressor, preventive maintenance is performed on a set schedule by a qualified service professional and will always translate to money well spent. The purpose of preventive maintenance is to catch mechanical problems before they spread and necessitate costly repairs and system downtime. If you detect problems early, you can take steps to rectify matters. Preventive maintenance can save time & money, prevent emergency repairs, lower energy costs, and improve your compressors life expectancy. Preventive maintenance ensures the smooth running of operations and helps to avoid costly interruptions and unexpected downtime. It is crucial to have a compressor maintenance program in place that supports productivity and prevents costly problems down the line. 

TIME AND MONEY 

Having a preventive maintenance program in place will reduce the risk of system downtime at unexpected intervals. Performing routine checkups can spot potential problems the moment they arise, before they get out of hand and grow into more serious issues. The earlier you identify a problem, the easier and less costly it is to remedy. In many cases, a problem detected early can be rectified in a few minutes with no money spent.

Routine maintenance also saves time in the long run. In any industry, system downtime is costly and time-consuming. The time that a compressor remains down and inoperable is productivity lost. Even just a few hours of downtime can result in untold losses. Preventive maintenance on an industrial air compressor will always lower the risk of costly downtime.

PREVENT EMERGENCY REPAIRS

One of the biggest risks of an irregular air compressor maintenance schedule is the chance of sudden, unexpected emergencies. If you only inspect your compressor on occasional, irregular intervals, you are not keeping track of how it performs on the inside. Even if the compressor seems fine on the outside and was purchased within the past few years, there could still be internal issues taking root that you are liable to miss if you only perform inspections on an infrequent, irregular basis.

In a worst case scenario, your compressor might stop functioning for reasons that could be hard to pinpoint. Consequently, a diagnosis could be even more time-consuming and costly. With consistent, periodic maintenance, you can pinpoint issues early and have them remedied almost immediately.

LOWER ENERGY COSTS

When you perform air compressor maintenance on a regular schedule, it allows you to catch instances where a function within the system is over-exerting or struggling to maintain an expected rate of production. When such issues do arise, it is often down to a part that needs cleaning, replacement or lubrication. By spotting these problems before they grow out of hand, the machine runs smoother and more efficiently, which translates to energy savings. Of course, energy savings also amounts to money saved in your overall production costs. With lower monthly energy costs, you can invest the money back into the infrastructure of your company.

IMPROVE LIFE EXPECTANCY

When you stick to a regular maintenance schedule, you can extend your compressor’s life expectancy. When you add up the initial cost of investment in an air compressor and all the attached pneumatic tools, you can see why it is important to ensure a return on that investment through years of optimal performance. Routine maintenance can turn your initial investment into an enormous return. If and when the time comes that you finally replace the machine with a newer model, the old compressor will have likely yielded a fortune regarding productivity.

Regardless of the size or scope of your compressor operation, it is vital to have a qualified service professional oversee preventive maintenance work on a timely and consistent schedule. Preventive maintenance will ensure your machines work hour by hour, day after day, and continue to operate to their full life expectancy.


Len’s Equipment Limited has offered professional sales and maintenance services for industrial air compressors for over 45 years. We are your trusted resource for innovative compressed air solutions. Let us help you set up a maintenance program tailored to your company’s needs.