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Air-Cooled vs. Water-Cooled Compressors

When selecting a rotary compressor, there are two cooling configurations to choose from: air-cooled or water-cooled. The choice between an air-cooled or water-cooled compressor is made based on the air compressor’s size, location, and utilities. Therefore, it is essential to explore the difference between air-cooled versus water-cooled compressors to decide which is the best for your operation.

Differences Between Air Cooled and Water Cooled

Air-cooled compressors use air to reduce the temperature of compressed air. This is generated from an air-cooled circuit that reduces the hot air with a fan and radiator. Air-cooled compressors are the most common air compressor cooling system.

Water-cooled compressors use liquid coolant to cool the compressed air. The cooling circuit reduces the heat with a shell and tube exchanger. The cooling circuit reduces the heat with a shell and tube exchanger.

Energy costs

An important factor to consider when selecting an air compressor cooling system is the energy costs. Some aspects to keep in mind include:

System Requirements

An air-cooled rotary screw compressor needs enough cooling air and space to provide adequate airflow. Without the proper space, customers may encounter temperature regulation issues which can cause shutdowns or equipment failures. Ductwork to the inlet and from the discharge typically gets cool air into the compressor package, and the discharged hot air can be removed from the plant. Then, during the winter, the heat can be redirected into the plant to help heat the factory.

If the customer’s environment is confined, caustic, or dirty, a water-cooled compressor might be the best fit. There are many different cooling tower designs, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Owning a water-cooled compressor means considering the initial cost of the cooling tower plus the energy required to maintain the design. A water-cooled compressor also needs high-quality cooling water to function. Using a natural water supply such as water from a lake, ocean, well, or river requires a closed-loop system to filter the water and increase your system’s lifespan.

If your operation does not own a closed-loop cooling system, the cost of purchase, installation, and maintenance needs to be included along with the water-cooled compressor. If you already have an on-site closed-loop cooling system, ensure it can accommodate your water-cooled compressor before installation.


How to Choose the Right Technology

It is important to selectthe compressor technology that can best serve your specific industry. Below are a few factors to consider when making your decision.

It is important to note that one type of air compressor is not better than the other. Deciding between an air-cooled or water-cooled compressor depends on your specific application, location, and business limitations.

In addition to our rotary screw air compressors, FS-Curtis now offers the ECO-Turbo series, a world-class line of centrifugal oil-free compressors available in either water-cooled or air-cooled. This state-of-the-art Class 0, oil-freecompressor uses a trusted FS-Elliott engineered airend, allowing the unit to be one of the most powerful compressors on the market. The technology behind ECO-Turbo exhibits above-average service life since the design is optimized with a wear-free compression principle that results in lower maintenance and fewer downtimes. The ECO-Turbo smart design is more streamlined, allowing for quicker onsite maintenance at a lower cost which results in more uptime.

The ECO-Turbo series can be used in a wide range of industries and applications where 100% oil-free compressed air is required with higher demand ranging from 185 kW to 250 kW drive power at a final compression pressure of up to 125 psi. ECO-Turbo has a simple and reliable design that ensures safe operation no matter the condition. The package fully encapsulates the compressor’s air, lubrication, cooling, and control systems.

For more information on the ECO-Turbo series.


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