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Piston compressor vs Rotary Screw Compressor

Piston compressor

Piston compressors are the oldest type of air compressors. They consist of a cylinder, a piston inside the cylinder, and a valve plate at the top of the cylinder. A piston compressor uses a reciprocating piston inside a cylinder to compress air or other gases.

The piston compressor is a machine that uses a reciprocating piston inside a cylinder. These compressors are also call as centrifugal or rotary compressors. Compressing gases like air, steam, and refrigerants is a common application.

Piston compressor Application

Piston compressors is extensively in a variety of industries, including oil and gas, chemical, food processing, and power generating. Additionally, in a variety of domestic equipment, including air conditioners, refrigerators, and washing machines.

The working principle of a piston compressor is to convert the mechanical energy from the motor into the form of pressure by using pistons moving back and forth inside cylinders. Piston compressors can be classified based on their compression ratio,

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Types Of Piston Compressors:

Single Stage Piston Compressor
A single stage piston compressor is one of the most common types of compressors. It consists of only one cylinder and one piston. The piston moves up and down inside the cylinder. As a result, When the piston reaches its top position, it compress the gas. When the piston goes back to its bottom position, the gas expands.
Two Stage Piston Compressor (Single Cylinder)
A two stage piston compressor is similar to a single stage compressor. However, this type of compressor has an additional chamber at the end of the cylinder. The second stage allows the gas to expand when the piston comes back to its bottom position.
Three Stage Piston Compressor(Two Cylinders)
There are three chambers in this type of compressor. The first stage is located at the beginning of the cylinder. The third stage is locates at the end of the second stage.

As the piston moves from the first stage to the second stage, but it compresses gas and expand again. Finally, when the piston reaches the third stage, the gas is released into the atmosphere.

Rotary screw compressor

Rotary screw compressors are very common in industrial applications. They are also used in air conditioning systems. What exactly is a rotary screw compressor?

A rotary screw compressor consists of two main components: a rotor and a stator. The rotor has helical grooves cut into its surface. As the rotor turns inside the stator, these grooves cause the material being compressed to move towards the center of the machine.

This compression increases the pressure of the gas or liquid inside the cylinder.


The primary advantage of a rotary screw compressor over a piston compressor is that it can be smaller due to fewer moving components. One downside is that they are typically more costly to make.
Rotary screw compressors are used in many applications including refrigeration, air conditioning, industrial process cooling, heating, vacuum pumping, water treatment, and power generation.

Rotary Compressor Types:

Single stage rotary screw compressor – Single stage means that the compression takes place in one single chamber. In this type of compressor, the entire volume of the chamber is fills with the gas.
Double-stage rotary screw compressor – Double-stage means that two chambers in use for the compression. One chamber, uses for primary compression and the second chamber for secondary compression. Primary and secondary stages separates by an intermediate buffer tank containing oil.
Triple-stage rotary screw compressors – Triple-stage means that three chambers uses the primary, secondary and tertiary compression.

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