Rotary Screw Air Compressors

Ever wonder what rotary screw air compressors are, or how they work, and if your business should be using one? Below is a guide to help you better understand how rotary screw air compressors work and their benefits.

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How Rotary Screw Air Compressors Work

rotary screw compressor element

A rotary screw air-end or element has twin rotors, which include male and female parts rotating in opposite directions. Air fills the space between the rotors and, as they rotate, the volume between them and the surrounding housing decreases, squeezing or compressing the air into a smaller space. The length, pitch of the screw, and the form of the discharge port collectively determine the pressure ratio. Beyond that, there are no valves, or other mechanical forces that can cause unbalance, which allows a screw compressor to operate at high speeds while combining a large flow rate with small exterior dimensions – it packs a good punch for its size.

Benefits of Rotary Screw Air Compressors

rotary screw air compressors

Rotary screw compressors typically are used for continuous, commercial and industrial applications. Here are some of the primary advantages of a rotary screw compressor:

1. Lower noise outputs to meet OSHA requirements
2. Significant reduction in weight, typically by 50 percent
3. Easier maintenance due to fewer wearing parts to maintain or replace
4. Shock-less, non-wearing compression technology
5. Simplified maintenance procedures
6. Extremely low oil-carryover (as little as 3 ppm)
7. Less overall oil consumption
8. Proven reliability in harsh environments
9. Smaller physical footprint, typically by 50 percent
10. No “unbalanced” forces, less vibration transfer
11. Less heat generation
12. Zero reduction in capacity over time

Types of Rotary Screw Air Compressors

types of rotary screw air compressors

Rotary screw air compressors are also available in two primary applications: oil free and oil injected. Here’s a breakdown:

Oil Free – External gears synchronize the position of the counter-rotating screw elements, and, because the rotors do not come in contact and create friction, no lubrication is needed within the compression chamber. As a result, the compressed air is oil-free. Precision engineering within the housing keeps pressure leakage (and drops) from the pressure side to the inlet at a minimum. And because the internal pressure ratio is limited by difference in air temperature between the inlet and discharge ports, oil-free screw compressors are frequently built with several stages and inter-stage cooling to maximize the pressure reach. The gearbox driving the mechanism does contain lubricants; oil-free refers to the compression chamber itself, and the delivered air is free of foreign contaminants beyond those found inherently in the air that passes through the intake.


Oil-Lubricated – In liquid-injected rotary screw air compressors, a liquid is injected into the compression chamber to cool and lubricate the compressor elements moving parts, to cool the air being compressed in the chamber, and to help minimize leaks from returns into the chamber during discharge. While oil is the most common liquid used today because of its lubricating and sealing properties, water and other polymers are sometimes used. The oil is then separated and passes through a filter and cooler before it cycles back into the process again. The compressed air can still be hot and often times is run through a cooler, depending on end usage.


Oil-Lubricated Rotary Screw Air Compressors Series

Oil-Free Rotary Screw Air Compressors Series

Screw compressors