Can high air purity and economical operation go hand-in-hand?

An interview to Dr David Bruchof, Product Manager for Oil-Free Industrial Compressors at Gardner Denver.
  1. What does your specific role within Gardner Denver entail?
    As product manager for oil-free industrial air compressors in EMEA, I am responsible for developing and executing the product strategy for the Gardner Denver- and CompAir-branded oil-free compressor range, ensuring our products meet the needs of our customers from the technical and commercial perspectives. Amongst other aspects, this includes driving the development and commercialization of new products.

  2. According to your experience, what are currently the biggest challenges for the oil-free air compressors sector?
    Currently, the biggest challenge is probably energy efficiency. This is driven by increasing energy prices, a legislative framework promoting energy-efficient solutions in many countries, but also a higher environmental awareness of many end users.

  3. David Bruchof

    Another important point is reliability. Not only does the compressor need to always be available when compressed air demand arises, but we also need to assure that at no time can any oil or other contaminants enter the air via the compressor. Oil-free compressed air is typically in direct contact with the end product, so any contamination would cause damage of products or expensive equipment. This can result in huge costs and, in the worst-case scenario, insolvency of the customer’s company.

  4. How can these challenges be addressed?
    There are several technical options to improve the efficiency of oil-free compressors. Some key examples are speed regulated drives, permanent magnet motors or individually and directly driven airends of two-stage dry screw compressors. Also, the heat that is naturally created during compression can be recovered, e.g. for space or process water heating or for drying the compressed air in a heat-of-compression dryer. A permanent assurance of the requested oil-free air quality can either be realized by compressor technologies that have absolutely no oil in the system (like Gardner Denver’s water-injected and scroll compressors) or by technical measures that avoid any direct contact between air and oil areas in the compressor (like Gardner Denver’s Ultima, further 2-stage dry screw and piston compressors). The Class Zero certificate, which is available for all of our oil-free compressors, proves compliance with the highest air quality standards.

  5. What trends do you expect to drive the oil-free compressed air technology in the nearest future, and what are Gardner Denver’s plans and ambitions in this area?
    There is a tendency towards more stringent compressed air quality standards in many industries, such as the medical, pharmaceutical or chemical sectors. However, in other traditionally “oil-free” industries, like food and beverage, the demand for oil-free air will also keep growing, driven by the growth of these industries themselves as well as by more users changing from oil-lubricated to oil-free. At Gardner Denver we always strive to understand the customer’s needs and to develop products answering these needs in an optimal way.

  6. What would be your recommendation for oil-free air compressor users who look to develop and improve their business?
    Ask experts for an energy audit to evaluate your current compressed air supply. Based on this, it is possible to work out measures to further improve the performance and reduce operating costs. Gardner Denver has a broad portfolio of oil free compressor technologies, including differentiated premium products like Ultima. To give just one example, Ultima is the only air-cooled oil-free compressor on the market that is applicable for heat recovery. At the same time, it has the lowest specific power consumption in its class. This can save the customer thousands of € each year.