Motoring ahead with compressor technology

Written by: Tom Shelley | Published:

A revolutionary design of air compressor is delivering energy, cost and maintenance benefits, says Tom Shelley

A revolutionary design of air compressor is delivering energy, cost and maintenance benefits, says Tom Shelley

A new oil-free compressor is slashing energy consumption, maintenance costs and footprint area by using only a single motor plus compressor component that revolves at up to 60,000 rpm.
Based on the latest British and other leading-edge innovation, this new development trims back the cost of compressed air and puts pneumatics firmly back among the ranks of modern technologies appropriate for automated systems.
According to Jeremy Sykes, managing director of Compair, the new machine is a big step forward over conventional oil-free compressors, which use a pair of interlocking dry screws driven through a gearbox.
The ‘Quantima’ machine boasts an induction motor with a central rotor and two turbo air ends, the whole thing supported by magnetic bearings, both axial and radial, with sensors that check positions 120,000 times a minute. The rotor has one compressor turbine head on each end. The first compresses to 3bar, after which the air is passed through an intercooler, before being compressed by another turbine on the opposite end of the same rotor to typically 7 or 8 bar after, which it then passes to an aftercooler.
The company developed the Q-drive motor – now patented by Compair – with a partner, whom Sykes declines to name.
“The clever part is cooling it,” he says, which is accomplished by a combination of a water jacket and air jets. He claims there are “very low losses in the motor [driven by a standard water cooled inverter] and elsewhere”.
Another important attribute, he insists, is the lack of vibratory noise - only noise carried by the air, which is 69dBA, regardless of model. The models range from the 150kW Q-26, to the 300kW Q-52, all of which sit in the same sized enclosure, 2.4m x 1.6m x 1.85m - which he says is about half the size of competing units.
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, Sykes told us, a lot of compressors use a vast amount of power off load, whereas the new machines, he claims, use only 2.5% of full load power off load, amounting to 7kW for a typical 300kW machine. The bottom line is that the company believes customers replacing an existing compressor with one of the new machines can expect to achieve energy savings of up to 25%. And the capital cost is similar, he adds. There are reduced running and maintenance costs, and the new machines come with a 10-year warranty. For those concerned about environment credentials, energy savings of just 10% of 300kW would be equivalent to taking 75 family cars off the road or planting 16,000 trees.
To ensure that efficiency is maintained, each machine is equipped with a predictive maintenance system called ‘Q-life’, which constantly monitors the compressors’ performance. Moreover, each compressor connects automatically to a remote monitoring centre, supported by a network of engineers who undertake all servicing during the 10-year warranty period.


* Compressor uses a single moving component, in the form of a motor armature, with a centrifugal compressor at each end, rotating at up to 60,000 rpm

* The rotor is supported in magnetic bearings that are constantly monitored, as is everything else on the machine

* As it consumes little power under no load, energy savings are said to be up to 25% relative to conventional machines

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