A new range of high pressure compressors that its manufacturer claims can save up to 30% on fuel has hit the UK market.
The units have been launched by CompAir, best known for low pressure portable compressors, as a direct rival to some of the major names in the high pressure compressor market.
“Our major design criteria was to get the highest possible efficiency,” said CompAir product manager Harald Wenzel, who spent four years developing the new product range.
The result is a range of machines all weighing under 3.5t - so they can be towed behind a 4x4 on UK roads - and capable of delivering compressed air pressures up to 24bar for drilling depths up to 150m.
Markets for the new product include geothermal and water well drilling.
High pressures are generated by a screw compressor, but the company has managed to make this compressor considerably smaller than its competitors by using two turbochargers – one to power the engine and one for screw.
The first turbocharger produces compressed air that runs through an intercooler before going into the Cummins diesel engine that generates most of the power. But in addition, hot exhaust gases are recovered and passed through a second turbocharger to precompress air for the screw compressor, reducing the overall size.
The six-cylinder, 6.7l engine is built in the UK and is Tier 3/Stage IIIA compliant.
It has been engineered to create the same output as a 9l engine, so engine speeds are lower; idle speed is reduced by as much as 40%, cutting fuel from around 25l per hour to just 12l.
The lower engine speed also cuts noise.
In operation, with the demand varying between idle, full load and part load, CompAir estimates fuel consumption to be about 47l /hour - 30% less than heavier high pressure compressors on the market.
Until now, most high pressure compressors have been directly owned by drilling companies and contractors, but Wenzel believes this could change.
“There has not really been much of a rental market for large machines before, but this will make it much easier for hire companies because it can be towed very easily,” he said.
The machines are designed to work in altitudes up to 5,000m and in temperatures of between -10°C and +50°C.