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An air compressor is a device that converts power (usually from an electric motor, a diesel engine or a gasoline engine) into potential energy by forcing air into a smaller volume and thus increasing its pressure. The energy in the compressed air can be stored while the air remains pressurized. The energy can be used for a variety of applications, usually by utilizing the kinetic energy of the air as it is depressurized.

There are numerous methods of air compression, divided into either positive-displacement or negative-displacement types

Positive-displacement compressors work by forcing air into a chamber whose volume is decreased to compress the air. Common types of positive displacement compressors are:-

Piston-type air compressors use this principle by pumping air into an air chamber through the use of the constant motion of pistons. They use one-way valves to guide air into a cylinder chamber, where the air is compressed.[1]
Rotary screw compressors use positive-displacement compression by matching two helical screws that, when turned, guide air into a chamber, whose volume is decreased as the screws turn.
Vane compressors use a slotted rotor with varied blade placement to guide air into a chamber and compress the volume. A type of compressor that delivers a fixed volume of air at high pressures.

Negative displacement

Negative-displacement air compressors include centrifugal compressors. These use centrifugal force generated by a spinning impeller to accelerate and then decelerate captured air, which pressurizes it. [1]

Due to adiabatic heating, air compressors require some method of disposing of waste heat. Generally this is some form of air- or water-cooling, although some (particularly rotary type) compressors may be cooled by oil (that is then in turn air- or water-cooled)[3] and the atmospheric changes also considered during cooling of compressors.