Reciprocating compressors are positive-displacement machines that compress and deliver gases at high pressures through the use of a piston or plunger. Refineries, gas transmission pipelines, and many other applications use reciprocating compressors to transfer hydrogen, oxygen, and other gases. This type of compressor is often used when the process fluid is relatively dry and when high compression ratios are required per stage without high flow rates.

In this post, we’ll review the different types of reciprocating compressors and some of the reliable options available from Energy Machinery, Inc.

Oil-Free vs Lubricated Reciprocating Compressors

Click to Expanddifferent types of reciprocating compressors

Applications can use either lubricated or oil-less reciprocating compressors based on their unique requirements.

Lubricated Reciprocating Compressors
Lubricated reciprocating compressors use lubricating oil to keep the piston running smoothly without causing damage to the mechanism. The lubricant also serves to maintain air compression efficiency and dissipate heat. This type of reciprocating compressor requires more frequent maintenance checks as well as periodic oil changes. Additionally, they require added air filtration, including coalescing filters and separators, which prevent oil from contaminating processes and affecting downstream equipment.

Oil-Free Reciprocating Compressors
With oil-free reciprocating compressors, the compression element is coated with a pre-lubricating material, eliminating the need for oil-based or synthetic lubrication. This type of compressor requires less routine maintenance but more extensive repairs. They also have a much shorter lifespan and they’re considerably louder during operation.

Because of these differences, lubricated reciprocating compressors are often more ideal for applications where compressors will experience heavy use. However, food processing, pharmaceutical, and other applications may want to use an oil-less compressor if they require air with high purity levels.

Types of Reciprocating Compressors

Whether you require oil-less or lubricated reciprocating compressors for your application, Energy Machinery, Inc. carries a variety of models to meet your needs. Our line of compressors includes:

  • PureAir Oil-Less Compressor. The Gardner Denver PureAir Series compressors are electric motor driven and designed to meet strict specifications regarding air purity for both institutional and industrial applications.
  • PureAir II Oil-Less Compressor. This Gardner Denver compressor is capable of 24-hour operation, which prevents the need for backup units and oversizing for optimal cost-effectiveness.
  • Reward Series™ – Reciprocating Air Compressors. Gardner Denver’s Reward Series compressors feature long-lasting designs that make them ideal for any application. Each compressor also includes as many as six standard pre-installed accessories.
  • R-Series Splash-Lubricated Compressor. R-Series compressors include a variety of unique features such as automotive-type domed pistons, which allow for the use of large-diameter, low-lift valves while providing maximum air delivery.
  • PL-Series Pressure-Lubricated Compressor. PL-Series compressors, much like the R-Series, include automotive-type domed pistons and other features for top performance. This model is specifically designed for use in extreme-duty applications, serving as an alternative for R-Series models.
  • Paradigm – Low Noise Reciprocating Air Compressors. These compressors are ideal for applications requiring quiet operation.
  • A-Series Reciprocating Compressors, Vacuum Pumps, and Boosters for Air and Natural Gas. A-Series compressors offer unbeatable accessibility, reliability, and quality with each component.
  • Climate Control Air-Cooled Reciprocating Compressors. Gardner Denver’s climate control compressors can meet the needs of nearly any application with complex climate control systems.
  • R and PL-Series Lubricated Air Compressors and Bare Pumps. Gardner Denver’s R and PL-Series compressors and bare pumps offer superior quality, longevity, and efficiency.

Reciprocating Compressors Serving New England

Oil-free and lubricated reciprocating compressors can meet the needs of many applications across a wide range of industries. To make sure you find the equipment that’s right for you, turn to the experts at Energy Machinery, Inc. We can help you locate the ideal solution in our extensive line of top-quality products. For more information about our reciprocating compressors or to get started with the selection process, contact us today.


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