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If you’re reading this, you know that rotary screw compressors are widely recognized for their efficiency, reliability, and ability to deliver a continuous supply of compressed air. Perhaps you’re hoping there’s a singular answer on which type of system is better. The short answer is that it depends on your facility. To help you make the decision, here are some of the characteristics, advantages, and downsides of both oil-flooded and oil-free rotary screw compressor systems. 

Oil-Flooded Rotary Screw Compressor Systems

Oil-flooded rotary screw compressors are the more traditional and widely used option in many industrial applications; and in our experience, they are what you’ll find in a majority of manufacturing plants across Ontario. These systems operate by injecting a specific amount of oil into the compression chamber to create a seal between the rotors. This helps minimize internal air leakage and enhances the compressor’s overall efficiency. The oil also serves as a lubricant for the rotors and bearings, reducing friction and wear, which leads to even more efficiency over time.

What Are the Advantages of Oil-Flooded Rotary Screw Compressor Systems?

  1. They are efficient: The oil-flooded design ensures optimal sealing between the rotors, resulting in high energy efficiency and lower power consumption.
  2. They last long: The lubricating properties of the oil help extend the lifespan of the compressor’s internal components, reducing maintenance and repair costs.
  3. They can be cheaper to access: Oil-flooded compressors typically have a lower initial purchase cost compared to oil-free alternatives.

Are There Any Downsides to Consider with Oil-Flooded Rotary Screw Compressor Systems?

Remember that these systems need regular maintenance. Since they are oil-flooded, these compressors will require regular oil changes, filtration, and monitoring to keep them performing well and to prevent oil contamination.

The other challenge to consider is the management of air quality in your facilityI . The presence of oil in the compression process will mean that you need to pay careful attention to filtration and air treatment to ensure the compressed air meets the required quality standards.

Oil-Free Rotary Screw Compressor Systems

Oil-free rotary screw compressors are a newer offering. These have gained popularity in industries where the quality of compressed air is critical, including pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and healthcare. These systems operate without oil in the compression chamber, eliminating the need for oil filtration and separation.

What Are the Advantages of Oil-Free Rotary Screw Compressor Systems?

  1. They result in better air quality: Oil-free compressors deliver compressed air that is free from oil contamination, ensuring it meets the stringent purity requirements of sensitive applications.
  2. Maintenance is easier: With no oil-related maintenance tasks such as oil changes or oil filter replacements, oil-free compressors can reduce maintenance time and costs significantly for some enterprises.
  3. They are environmentally-friendly: Oil-free compressors eliminate the risk of oil contamination in the compressed air system, promoting sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint.

Are There Any Cons to Oil-Free Rotary Screw Compressor Systems?

Oil-free compressors typically have a higher upfront cost due to their advanced design and specialized manufacturing processes. This may make them inaccessible to some operations. Further, oil-free compressors may have slightly lower energy efficiency compared to oil-flooded compressors due to the possibility of internal air leakage.

How to Choose the Best Option for Your Application

When deciding between oil-flooded and oil-free rotary screw compressor systems, consider your specific application requirements, industry standards, and long-term operational goals. Factors such as the desired air quality, level of maintenance required, initial investment budget, and environmental considerations should all be taken into account as part of your discovery. Consulting with experts and evaluating your requirements against the advantages and considerations we’ve outlined in this article will help you make an informed decision. We can help! Drop us a note via our contact page and one of our team of experts will be in touch for further assistance.