The Effects of Intercooling on a Two Stage Reciprocating Air Compressor
Dr. Peter Krenzke
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering
Air compressors fill a critical need within manufacturing and research settings. Compressed air production can account for 5-20% of a company’s energy usage in a year, making it vital to find ways to improve compressor performance. One approach to improve performance is a process called intercooling which reduces the temperature between stages. Experiments were conducted with a Worthington two stage air compressor to quantify energy saved with intercooling. Trials were run at delivered pressures of 30, 35, 40, 50, 55, and 60 psig. Pressures at the inlets and outlets of each stage were measured. Thermocouples were attached to the outside of the pipe before and after the intercooler tube and surrounded by insulation to measure an accurate air flow temperature. The pressure, temperature, and calculated mass flow were put into models using classical thermodynamic analysis and a computer program, DWSim. Both approaches were used to compare a simple compressor (without intercooling), and the compressor tested (with intercooling). At a tank pressure of 30 psig, a total of 1.15 kW was used by the modeled simple compressor, from this 15.3 to 19.2W were saved with the addition of the intercooler. At 60 psig, the simple compressor used 1.7 kW and a range of 119.8 to 121.3 W was saved by adding an intercooler, showing the intercooling process is more effective at higher pressures than lower pressures. When operated at designed parameters, the use of intercoolers can drastically improve compressor performance and diminish energy consumption.
McDonald, Matthew; Anderson, Elias; Miller, Trent; and Haw, Gilbert, "The Effects of Intercooling on a Two Stage Reciprocating Air Compressor" (2022). Summer Interdisciplinary Research Symposium. 135.