What is compressed air and what is it for?

Exactly what is compressed air? Where does it come from? What is it for?

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Estimated time to read: 2 minutes

May 3, 2023

What is compressed air?

When we compress—or squeeze—air into a small space, we call it compressed air. When humans discovered the ability to compress air, civilisation made a huge leap forward. The reason? Compressed air opened the door to all kinds of new production methods. 

What is compressed air for?

Once upon a time, we relied on steam engines to power equipment. It was incredibly inefficient and frighteningly polluting. And fortunately, we have moved on.

Today, compressed air performs many of the same roles, as well as many new ones. As such, it is as important to modern production processes as electricity, water and gas. This has earned it the nickname ‘The Fourth Utility’.

We most frequently associate it with the manufacturing sector, but most industries rely on compressed air in one way or another. It’s essential for moving cargo and people in ships, trains and cars, where it’s used in brake systems, suspension and airbags. It powers a huge variety of tools and devices, from construction sites and car repair shops to the dentist’s surgery.

Unlike water and gas, which are natural resources, and electricity, which is readily available from a range of different sources, compressed air is generally generated on-site. And to do that, we need compressors. 

Compressors make the world go round

Compressors come in all shapes and sizes, from small, portable ones used to power handheld tools to huge industrial systems that supply entire manufacturing plants or gigantic ships with compressed air.

Different compressors use different methods to compress air, producing it in different qualities and quantities. This incredibly wide range of compressors means there is always going to be a compressor that caters to your specific needs. 

The main requirements we place on air compressors are reliability and energy efficiency.

Reliability is important because a broken-down compressor has the potential to bring an entire production line to a stop.

As for energy efficiency? This is vital because of the amount of energy that a compressor consumes. In fact, about 10% of all the energy consumed by the industrial sector goes to compressing air.

You’ll obviously want the right type of compressor for the job. In fact, choose an air compressor carefully and you’ll cut the amount of energy you use to compress air by as much as half.

From an environmental perspective, it’s the right thing to do. From a legal perspective, it’s becoming a requirement in more and more places. And from a financial perspective? It’s going to make a huge difference to your bottom line, especially with the costs of electricity and energy nowadays. 

The right tool for the job

With an incredibly extensive range of air compressors, it’s important to take the time to find the right compressor for your needs. It’s overkill to use a state-of-the-art, high-volume compressor network to pump up the tyre on your child’s bike. Just like you wouldn’t want to rely on a bike pump to keep the wheels turning at an industrial complex. In fact, the niche uses of compressed air mean that we have more specialised air compressors today than ever before. 

Wondering how your air compressor ranks in terms of reliability and efficiency for different jobs? Get in touch with us at ALUP . We would love nothing more than to geek out discussing and searching for the perfect air compressor for you. 

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