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Isothermal compression gets practical

By Gerald Ondrey |

Mechanical engineering students have been taught that true isothermal compression, while ideal from an energy-efficiency perspective, is not achievable. However, a late 1800s technology, the Taylor Compressor has delivered isothermal compression in large industrial applications for nearly a century. The largest installation of the Taylor compressor powered multiple local mining operations in Canada for over 80 years, with no moving parts and no maintenance. It drew air and water down a 342-ft shaft, where the weight of the water compressed the air. The air separated from the water in an underground storage cavern, and delivered 40,000 ft3/min at 120 psi, equivalent to more than 5,500 hp. Unfortunately, the Taylor compressor was geographically constrained to a large natural hydro resource, and is not suitable for most practical compression. Now, Carnot Compression LLC (Scotts Valley, Calif.; www.carnotcompression.com) has taken concepts from the Taylor compressor and removed the geographic constraint. Its technology creates a gas/liquid emulsion and compresses gas in a centrifugal field. The company uses centrifugal force, creating G-forces in the thousands, thereby enabling high pressures and flowrates. The company’s system captures…
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