five-step capacity control system applied to a two-stage, four-cylinder, double-acting, reciprocating compressor. Assuming that the compressor in the figure is required to maintain a pressure of 92 to 100 psi, the pressure switches should be set to load and unload as follows: switch 1, load at 93 psi and unload at 97 psi; switch 2, load at 94 psi and unload at 98 psi; switch 3, load at 95 psi and unload at 99 psi; and switch 4, load at 96 psi and unload at 100 psi. As the receiver pressure reaches the high limit of each pressure switch, 25 percent of the compressor capacity will unload. As receiver pressure falls to the low setting of each switch, 25 percent of the compressor capacity will load. Pressure switch 1 will therefore unload 25 percent of the compressor capacity at 97 psi and will load 25 percent at 93 psi, and so forth. As receiver pressure fluctuates between 93 and 100 psi, the compressor capacity varies in five steps; full, 75 percent, 50 percent, 25 percent, and zero capacity.
The compressor illustrated in figure 11-22 operates on the following principle: When it is started, air pressure switches are closed and the solenoids in the unloader valves become energized so that receiver pressure cannot enter the unloading lines, and compression is permitted. As the receiver pressure builds up and reaches 97 psi, pressure switch 1 breaks contact, de-energizing unloader 1, and allowing 97 psi receiver air to enter control line 1, actuating the inlet valve unloader. Twenty-five percent of the compressor has become unloaded and compression has reduced from full to 75-percent capacity. Control lines 2, 3, and 4 will operate in the same way as receiver pressure increases. At 100 psi, all cylinders will be unloaded. Air compression ceases, but the compressor continues to run under no load. As air is drawn off from the receiver, the pressure begins to drop. When the pressure falls to 96 psi, pressure switch 4 makes contact and energizes unloading valve 4, which cuts off receiver pressure from the inlet unloader and vents the unloader pressure to the atmosphere. The inlet valve unloader releases the inlet valve and normal compression takes place, loading the compressor to 25-percent capacity. If the demand for air increases and receiver pressure continues to decrease, control lines 3, 2, and 1 will load in sequence.
Another method of unloading a compressor is by the use of clearance pockets built into the cylinders. Normal clearance is the volume at the end of the piston and under the valves when the piston is at the end of the COMPRESSION stroke. Figure 11-23 shows an air cylinder with clearance pockets and clearance valves used with a five-step clearance control. Each end of the cylinder is fitted with two clearance pockets that are connected with or cut off from the cylinder by air-operated clearance valves. A regulated device, not shown, which is operated by receiver pressure, uses pilot valves to open and close the clearance pocket valve in the proper sequence. Each clearance pocket can hold one-quarter of the air compressed by the cylinder in one stroke. When both pockets at the end of the cylinder are open, no air is taken into that end of the cylinder. Figure 11-24 illustrates the operation of clearance pockets under five-step clearance control.
Prime movers for compressors can be elec- trical, gasoline, or diesel driven. This section will address electrical prime movers only. Gasoline and diesel-driven prime movers are normally the responsibility of the Construction Mechanic. Several types of electric motors can be used to drive compressors: induction, synchronous-wound motor, and direct current (dc) motors.
Figure 11-23.-Air cylinder showing clearance pockets and clearance valvesContinue Reading