What is compressed air?
Compressed air is ordinary atmospheric air which has been compressed by a compressor to a pressure higher than atmospheric pressure. Dry air mainly consists of oxygen and nitrogen. Water mixed with dry air to a certain moisture content can also be found in the atmosphere, depending on temperature and location.
Compressed air is a medium that can safely and reliably store large amounts of energy. This energy is widespread and is used in essentially all industry worldwide. About 90% of all manufacturing companies use compressed air in one way or another in their production process.
Comparable types of energy such as gas, water and electricity are usually delivered to the production site by external suppliers. These suppliers must comply with quality, environmental and safety standards set by regulators, customers and industry organizations. In contrast, compressed air usually is not supplied by external providers, but is produced on site. It is therefore the user’s responsibility to satisfy quality requirements and to reduce production costs as much as possible.
Compressed air is a beneficial form of energy in many ways. It is clean and safe, easy to store and transport, and is very useful for highly diverse industrial applications. Compressed air can be used for everything from operating screwdrivers and similar tools to creating movements and lifting, or for blowing surfaces clean, moving and cooling materials.
Compressed air, along with electricity, is the most useful form of energy in today’s advanced manufacturing industry. The compressed air acts as a power source for various types of tools and machinery, and is often an important and well-integrated part of many production processes. The advantages of compressed air include low maintenance costs, low weight in relation to power, and the possibility of high load over a long period of time with-out overheating. Since most compressed air applications are not connected to electricity, people do not always consider what dangers may be lurking. But just as safety regulations must be observed for electrical machines and tools, compressed air components must also be treated with respect to avoid dangerous accidents.
Compressed air stores large amounts of energy at high pressure, which means that improper use may lead to serious incidents in the workplace. For this reason it is important that staff complete risk awareness training and comply with the company’s safety rules; for example, never aim a compressed air pistol at another person. It is also important to comply with technical limitations regarding maximum allowable working pressure, temperature, load, etc., specified by the manufacturer for a particular component or tool. Precautions involving use of compressed air are becoming increasingly important for both business and government, and several countries are currently investigating the matter.