Office of Undergraduate Research

Determining The Effects Of Incoming Air Humidity Level On Industrial Air Compressor Performance

The objectives of this project are to (1) experimentally determine the effect of air compressor performance on the energy usage of an industrial air compressor and (2) use the experimental results to validate a theoretical model. This work is important for separating out the impact of the moisture content in air on the performance of an air compressor for energy efficiency studies. The experimental set-up has been developed, and the experiments will be performed by the student by as follows. First, the equipment will be calibrated so that the relative humidity of the incoming air can be carefully controlled. The air compressors will then be operated at several levels of incoming air relative humidity, with power consumption, mass and volumetric flow rate of the exiting air, compressor operating conditions, and other relevant factors being measured. These tests will be performed in 10-hour blocks, allowing for sufficient averaging of performance at a given relative humidity level. The tests will be performed on 4 air compressors, with at least 3 different lubricants being employed to provide for results that are independent of machine or specific lubricant. Once the experiments have been completed, the results will be compared to results found previously from a theoretical model. Upon verification of the model, both the experimental results and the model will be used to develop a correction factor for relative humidity which can be applied to energy consumption experiments using the compressors which do not have controlled inlet humidity.

Tasks and responsibilities:

The student will be asked to conduct the experiments using computer-based data acquisition systems. The student will also have to analyze the data and compare the results to the theoretical modeling. Finally, the student will need to develop the correlation factor to be used in non-controlled tests.