Cooling: How to Take Care of Water Cooled Reciprocating Air Compressor

In water-cooled air compressor, the quality and quantity of cooling water play the major role in the performance of a machine.

Many times I found, utility or maintenance engineer or managers are careless about cooling water supplied to the compressor. They are interested in the compressed air only.

Many major breakdowns occur due to a negligence of cooling water. To increase the life and performance of air compressor below points must be taken into consideration.

cooling water
Open water circuit

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  • How to Take Care Of  Cooling Water

01) The cooling water piping connections to the compressor cylinder, intercooler and aftercooler should be arranged as shown in the general arrangement drawing and water piping diagram.

The main stop valve should be situated in the water pipe, inlet header and flow regulating valve in the supply line to each cylinder, intercooler, and aftercooler (means parallel water circuit.) 

02) Good clean water should be provided for cooling. The scale deposited unless are removed, will obstruct the flow of water, lower the rate of heat transfer and may result in damage to the air compressor.

The cleaning doors are provided on the side of the cylinder for cleaning of jackets and cylinder heads. So, periodically the cylinder jackets, cylinder heads, inter-cool, after-cooler tubes and inside of the shell should be inspected and cleaned. 

03) It is preferable that the outlet water from each cylinder, intercooler, and aftercooler should empty into the funnels. So that it facilitates the operator to observe whether the water is flowing or not. It also helps to control the flow of water (open water system).

The outlet water can be then taken to an underground pit tank and pumped to a cooling tower. Also, a visible Flow Indicator must be installed in each water outlet pipe of a closed water system. It is also suggested to clean flow indicator glass periodically or according to requirement.

  •  Some More Precautions

04) A sufficient amount of cooling water should be provided to each cylinder, intercooler, and also aftercooler. The flow to each of them should be capable of individual adjustment.

The inlet water pressure is recommended to be maintained between minimum 2.5 kg/cm² and maximum 4 kg/cm².

The inlet water temperature must not exceed 40-degree centigrade hence this should be very strictly taken care off. The water temperature differential between inlet and outlet should not exceed 7 to 8-degree centigrade and should preferably be lower. 

05) Over a time period, water pipe/tube also got rusted or clogged from inside. So they must be replaced by new one. “O” ring and gasket of inter-cooler or after-cooler or cylinder head can be detected by observing the water flowing into the outlet funnel.

A small pinhole will cause an air bubble in the water and a larger hole will cause the outlet water spurt. Whenever such a leaky tube is found it should be repaired or replaced without delay.

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