Uses of Compressed Air in Petrochemical and Chemical Industry

Oct 27, 2023

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Uses of Compressed Air in Petrochemical and Chemical Industry

Compressed air and nitrogen are widely used by chemical and petrochemical companies to run machines, operate control valves, keep processes safe, and boost efficiency. Let’s take a closer look at air compressors and nitrogen generation for chemical and petrochemical operations. 

Compressed Air and Gas Equipment Commonly Used in the Chemical Industry

There are many different types of compressed gas equipment for chemical applications and petrochemical applications. 

  • Rotary Screw Air Compressors: Rotary screw air compressors are particularly suitable for continuous operations and are commonly found in large-scale chemical plants due to their efficiency and capability to provide a steady flow of compressed air.
  • Reciprocating Air Compressors: Reciprocating air compressors are ideal for intermittent operations or locations with fluctuating air demand. They are robust, cost-effective and simple to maintain, and often come with an integrated air tank. 
  • Portable Air Compressors: Used for tasks that require mobility, these compressors can be easily transported to different locations within the facility or to different sites altogether. They’re especially valuable for maintenance, cleaning, and on-site tasks that don’t have fixed infrastructure. 
  • High-Pressure Compressors: Some chemical/petrochemical applications (such as catalytic cracking or transport of high-viscosity fluids) require high-pressure compressed air. Dual-stage or multi-stage air compressors are engineered to produce pressures ranging from 500 PSI to 5,000 PSI or higher. 
  • Oil-Free Air Compressors: In processes where the purity of air is paramount (like in the production of specialty chemicals or pharmaceuticals), an oil-free air compressor may be recommended. These compressors ensure that the compressed air is free from oil contaminants that might interfere with the processes or product purity. 
  • Nitrogen Generators: Many chemical processes, especially in the petrochemical industry, require inert atmospheres to prevent unwanted reactions, oxidation, or combustion. Nitrogen generators produce nitrogen from atmospheric air.

Uses of Compressed Air in the Chemical and Petrochemical Industry 

Uses of Compressed Air in the Chemical and Petrochemical Industry

Compressed air is used for a variety of chemical/petrochemical processes. Some common chemical applications and petrochemical applications for air compressors include the following.  

  • Process Air: Compressed air can be used directly in various processes, such as drying, mixing/aerating, or acting as a medium for reactions (such as oxidation reactions). Process air generally requires a high degree of purity as it interacts directly with chemical products. 
  • Instrumentation & Control: Instrument air powers many instruments and control systems, like actuators, control valves and cylinders. 
  • Pneumatic Conveying: Compressed air can be used in pneumatic systems to move powders and granulated materials from one location to another.
  • Fluid Pumping: An air compressor may be used to power fluid pumping systems for liquid chemicals and regulate the flow of liquids and gases through pipelines and in petrochemical plants. 
  • Storage and Transfer: Compressed air can be used in transferring liquids from one tank to another and maintaining pressure in storage vessels at gas storage terminals.
  • Cooling and Heating: In some processes, compressed air can be used for rapid cooling or heating of substances.
  • Product Drying: Compressed air is used to remove moisture and accelerate drying processes.
  • Safety Systems: In hazardous or volatile environments, safety systems use compressed air to operate emergency shut-off valves and to purge potentially toxic and combustible gases. Compressed air may also be used to create an air curtain to maintain a clean and safe environment. 
  • Nitrogen Generation: An air compressor can be used for separating nitrogen, which is essential for processes requiring an inert atmosphere.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance: Compressed air can be used for cleaning equipment, purging pipelines, and ensuring that equipment is free from contaminants.  

Choose Fluid-Aire Dynamics for Chemical and Petrochemical Industries 

Looking for a compressed air company for the chemical industry? Fluid-Aire Dynamics has a wide selection of chemical/petrochemical air compressors and nitrogen generation equipment. We also offer compressed air system design and installation and 24/7 air compressor repair services for chemical and petrochemical companies. 

Contact an Aire expert today. 

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