A Brief History Of Air Compressors

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					Title:
A Brief History Of Air Compressors

Word Count:
600

Summary:
Air compressors have been around for literally thousands of years. Now
granted the devices the ancients used for compressing air bear little
resemblance to the modern air compressor. However, the basic principle is
the same and without the primitive air compressors, civilization would
not have evolved as fast it has. One of the primary uses for compressed
air was to increase the combustion in a furnace. The operator of a forge
would use a bellows to blast compressed air into ...


Keywords:
A Brief History of Air Compressors.


Article Body:
Air compressors have been around for literally thousands of years. Now
granted the devices the ancients used for compressing air bear little
resemblance to the modern air compressor. However, the basic principle is
the same and without the primitive air compressors, civilization would
not have evolved as fast it has. One of the primary uses for compressed
air was to increase the combustion in a furnace. The operator of a forge
would use a bellows to blast compressed air into the furnace to stoke up
the heat. This allowed ancient man to produce stronger and better metals
for tools and weapons. Most people today would not equate a bellows as an
air compressor, but that is exactly what it is. The blacksmith would pull
apart the handles on the bellows and a check valve would allow fresh air
to rush into the accordion like chamber. Then using muscles as the power
source, the blacksmith would squeeze the handles together and the
compressed air would shoot out the fitting on the end. Using this process
it became possible to create a fire hot enough to smelt ores of copper,
tin, lead and iron. Bellows are still used today in a variety of
applications. The organ at your local church is probable powered by a
bellows that is practically identical to one a thousand years ago. They
even pop up in medical applications such as breathing machines in
operation rooms.

It wasn’t until later in history that it became possible to compress air
using mechanical methods. In the past, only human and animal power was
possible to power crude air compressors and this severely limited the
utility of these primitive devices. With the industrial revolution, the
mechanical air compressor was born. Engines running from steam power
became the first method to power an air compressor. One of the first uses
of a steam powered air compressor was in underwater diving equipment.
This opened up whole new methods for under water exploration and even
underwater construction. The compressed air could be pumped down to a
diver and allow extended stays below surface. Compressed air was also
much safer to use as a power source for early pneumatic tools and drills.
For example, early rock drills were powered by steam. However, hot steam
is far more hazardous than compressed air. A ruptured steam line can kill
or seriously injure a worker while compressed air is relatively benign.
Steam powered rock drills eventually gave way to drills powered by air
compressors.

As the internal combustion engine gained popularity, they began to be
used as a power source for air compressors. Gasoline engines are today
commonly used in piston type air compressors. This would be a common air
compressor you would find in your garage or on the back of a service
truck. The gasoline engine drives a crankshaft and piston. As the piston
moves into the downstroke postion, air flows into the cylinder on the low
pressure end. When the upstroke begins, air moves into the high pressure.
This action produces compressed air. In larger industrial applications, a
rotary type air compressor is used. Rotary air compressors produce
compressed air by turning a vaned rotor inside of a long enclosed
chamber. As the engine spins the rotor, air is sucked inside the chamber.
The air is then forced down the vanes into smaller and smaller areas.
This action compresses the air and forces it out the other end. Rotary
vane air compressors work very well in industrial applications because
they are capable of producing large amounts of compressed air for
extended periods of time.

				
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