Different Air Compressors, Different Needs
March 07, 2019
Industry expert Dan Myrick explains the differences between compressor types and why it’s important to get the right oil for your compressor.
The following are small excerpts from the second episode of Tribology Talk: The Science of Lubrication. To listen to the full podcast, you can download from iTunes or listen from your mobile device.
Host: Kyle Carter, Communications Director
Guest: Dan Myrick, Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology
Dan Myrick on why it’s important to know details of the air compressor you’re lubricating…
They bring different things to the table. Some have higher pressures and with higher pressures come different challenges when it comes to lubrication. In a rotary screw, there’s a higher chance for oxidation, which presents a different challenge for lubrication. You really need to know the compressor type to know the challenges you’re going to be dealing with in the lubricating aspect of the compressor and how you’re going to address these challenges.
Dan Myrick on the challenges of lubricating a reciprocating compressor…
In a reciprocating compressor, you’re going to have higher pressures and higher pressures mean higher temperatures. The higher temperatures are going to be a challenge for the oil because you’re going to reach temperatures in the range of 250 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit at the discharge, and maybe even a little higher than that. And that’s at a temperature level that actually cooks the oil. It’s going to break down the oil thermally and produce a hard carbon-type deposit. That’s the biggest challenge in a reciprocating compressor, especially a higher pressure, higher temperature unit, is to keep the carbon deposit down because that can really wreak havoc on a compressor.
Dan Myrick on the importance of getting an oil customized for your machine…
It’s difficult to choose one oil that will work in every different type of compressor. It’s difficult to find an oil that will work in a rotary screw and a reciprocating compressor, because in a reciprocating compressor you have a lot of sliding action on the cylinder wall and typically that requires a heavier viscosity oil like an ISO 100 or an ISO 150…a rotary screw compressor, you’re lubricating roller bearings, and those can handle a little bit lighter oil. So it’s hard to pick an oil that can do everything. There are going to be trade-offs if you try to do that. It’s better to get an oil that falls specifically in the viscosity range and have the wear requirements that you should be looking for in that particular type compressor.