Compressed air is a vital element of many aircraft engine systems like turbojets and turboprops. By altering air density, systems can generate increased power, either through compression or combustion, but if this air is not used immediately, it must be stored in proper conditions. When any system that requires compressed air operates, air receiver tanks function to balance the supply of air from the compressor with the demand from the system by functioning as a reservoir. These tanks can also remove water and minimize pulsations in the system, so it is beneficial to understand how they work.
Essentially, air receiver tanks, also referred to as compressed air tanks, act as a buffer by storing compressed air before it enters equipment or a piping system. Compressed air systems comprise a primary tank and a secondary tank. Typically, the primary tanks are situated between the compressor, where the air is compressed, and the fluctuating buffer, where the demand for air varies according to the system’s needs. The secondary tanks are located further from the system, but remain accessible to any device that requires air. Although compressed air systems can technically function without employing storage tanks, they function to make operations highly efficient and effective.
When looking to attach an air receiver tank to your system, it is important to choose one of the right size so as to reap the most benefits during operations.Tanks can store anywhere from 5 gallons to thousands of gallons. In general, an air receiver tank should be sized between 6–10 times the flow rate of the system. Typically, air receiver tanks tend to be around 2 gal/scfm, but if you expect your system to demand larger surges, tanks can be found in 4 to 10 gal/scfm sizes. Things to consider include choosing a tank that can hold a greater capacity of air than the system requires at all times as well as how much air the end user requires. Additionally, your tank’s receiver size should be based on the difference between discharge pressure and end-use pressure, with greater differences requiring smaller receivers. Lastly, the amount of time it takes to supply the amount of air required without a significant drop in pressure should be considered.
The process of sizing a tank for stationary air compressors is slightly different from that of sizing a tank for reciprocating air compressors. In reciprocating compressors, once the tank is filled with enough compressed air, the connected device can be operated, but stationary compressors are more complex to size correctly. This is because the amount of air in the tank must be exact for use.
In addition to regulating air flow, removing water, and decreasing pulsations, reservoirs offer many benefits. Some of these include the ability to supply extra air to the system to accommodate surges in demand or even run the system while the compressor is off.
Other factors to consider when choosing the proper air receiver tank include working pressure, drainage elements, and drying elements. First, it is important to maintain optimal pressure across a system, so tanks should be equipped with a pressure relief valve, that of which should be set to 10% above the system’s working pressure, as well as a pressure gauge. Second, the tank should be fitted with a drain to allow for the disposal of any water removed from the air. Lastly, while it is not necessary, an air dryer and coalescing filter can further help improve the dryness of the compressed air.
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