What Is a Natural Gas Compressor?

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  • Written By: Amy Rodriguez
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2020
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A natural gas compressor uses natural gas as a fuel source to generate compressed air. Most commercial compressors are electric or gasoline powered, but a natural gas compressor is used mainly within industrial applications. Many chemical and manufacturing companies use these compressor types for constant air flow during production.

In general, compressors use an internal motor to force outside air into the machine. The forced air accumulates within the compressor's storage tank while it becomes more and more dense as molecules enter the area. When the natural gas compressor is attached to an industrial production machine, the air bursts outward, fully pressurized, to generate mechanical motion in manufacturing machinery.

An industrial strength natural gas compressor is normally constructed with a rotary screw configuration to complement the motor. Two rotors are placed parallel to each other, allowing the grooves to mesh loosely. As the motor runs and the rotors spin in a counterclockwise orientation, air becomes trapped within the meshed grooves. The air eventually moves down the grooves and into the storage tank.

Industrial applications use natural gas as the fuel source for compressed air since gas is normally less expensive than electricity. The manufacturing industry could see costs rise substantially if electricity was used as a substitute energy source; this high cost would result in more expensive items, from shoes to refrigerators. Natural gas is an abundant resource for powering a continual production line.


The natural gas compressor does require lubrication of the motor's moving parts, such as the pistons within the cylinders. Over time, the internal oil lubrication becomes sticky and impedes motor movement. Workers assigned to the natural gas compressor maintenance schedule must monitor the oil level and consistency on a regular basis. Any deviation from the proper oil level and viscosity can result in a broken compressor; a failed machine can easily set a production line back substantially which damages profits and discourages waiting customers.

Workers must also monitor any natural gas leaks. Leaking gas can cause an explosion, so monitoring employees should be extra diligent during their inspection process. The production line must be shut down if any leak is detected; once the leak is pinpointed and repaired, the compressor can operate normally again.

Industrial businesses should analyze their compressed air needs before purchasing a natural gas compressor. Each manufacturing machine has different power needs. In response, the business can organize certain machines to work with one compressor's power ratings, whereas others can be allocated to another compressor, either with more or less power output.



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