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Sizing the Air Receiver

1st Article:
Receiver tanks are found in most modern compressed air systems. Hence, one of the most common design tasks in sizing of a compressor system is the sizing of receiver tanks. To size the receiver tanks appropriately, we need to identify the key function of the receiver tank. The air receiver must in general be sized according to: the variation in the consumption demand the compressor size and the modulation strategy In general it is possible to calculate the maximum consumption in the system by summarizing the demand of each consumer. The summarized consumption must be multiplied with a usage factor ranging 0.1 to 1 - depending on the system. In practice it is common that the manufacturer use standardized receivers for specific compressor models based on their know-how. For calculating the receiver, note that it is necessary with a pressure band for the receiver to be effective. If the consumption process requires 100 psig and the compressor is set to100 psig, there is no storage and no buffer. Any increased demand makes a pressure drop below 100 psig until the compressor controls respond by increasing the volume compressed. If the compressor operates at 110 psig the difference between 110 and 100 psig accounts for the air stored in the receiver. If the demand increases, the pressure can drop 10 psig before the minimum requirement is met. Note that in a compressed air system the pipe work also makes the purpose of a buffered volume. The receiver volume may be calculated using the formula t = V (p1 - p2) / qs pa (1) where V = volume of the receiver tank (cu ft) t = time for the receiver to go from upper to lower pressure limits (min) qs = free air flow (scfm) pa= atmospheric pressure (14.7 psia) p1 = maximum tank pressure (psia) p2 = minimum tank pressure (psia) Secondary Air Receiver Tank: A secondary air receiver tank has a slightly different purpose than the primary air tank. It is installed near a piece of equipment that operates intermittently. The advantage of installing secondary tanks at locations where higher flow rates are required on an intermittent basis is that if an intermittent process can be averaged out (which an air tank will do), the instantaneous requirement of the compressed air system is reduced. Air Receiver Code Requirements: Many regions have a code requirement for the construction of air receiver tanks. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has established a code for air receiver tanks and many companies rate their tanks to that code.

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Sizing the Air Receiver

Safety Relief Valves: All tanks that contain compressed air should have a safety relief valve. A rule of thumb is to set the relief valve to 10% than the highest system pressure requirement. But the relief valve should never be set higher than the pressure rating of the tank it is connected to. Condensate Drains: All tanks should have a condensate drain to remove liquid from the tank. If the manual drain cannot be opened on a regular basis, an automatic-timer drain should be used. Pressure Gauge: The tank should have a large pressure gauge mounted to it. By using a pressure gauge rated to double the operating pressure, the normal needle location will be pointing straight up. A gauge snubber should also be used to protect the gauge from pressure spikes.

2nd Article:
In the modern compressed air plant, receiver tanks are mainly used for only 2 purposes: a) as a buffer to supply air during short demand peaks or power failure. b) as a protective element to prevent too frequent a cycling of the compressor/s. This can be to prevent mechanical failure of the inlet valve due to too frequent switching of onload/offload state or electrical failure of motors due to too frequent start/stop for small piston compressors. A) Sizing as a Buffer The formula used to determine the appropriate size of the receiver tank when used as a buffer is:

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Sizing the Air Receiver

For example, suppose a plant requires 5 m 3/min of free air during any power failure to operate some pneumatic valves. The minimum pressure at the receiver tank during plant operations is 7 bar and the minimum pressure to operate the pneumatic valve is 5 bar. If the free air is required for 1 minute, then the appropriate size of the receiver tank is:

Hence the minimum size of the receiver tank required is 2.5 m 3. Sizing as a Protective element: The formula used to determine the appropriate size of the receiver tank when used as a protective element is:

In the above formula, it must be understood that, A, the utility ratio can vary through out the time the compressed air plant is in operation due to the varying consumption of compressed air. This will result in A-A2, the utility factor also varying. The graph below shows the possible values of the utility factor, A-A2 in the above equation when the Utility ratio, A varies from zero to full utilization.

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Sizing the Air Receiver

Hence for conservative designs, the worst case value of 0.25 is used. For example, suppose a compressor is operating in onload /off load mode with a free air delivery of 5 m3/min. The cut-in pressure is set at 7.0 bar and the cut-out pressure is set at 7.5 bar. If the maximum switching frequency allowed for onload/offload operation is 1 time/min., then the conservative size of the required receiver tank is:

Hence the conservative minimum size of the appropriate receiver tank is 2.5 m3. As receiver tanks are rather costly items, less conservative sizing using a less conservative utility factor, A-A2 (such as 0.16), a bigger pressure differential, p (such as 1 bar) and a higher maximum cycling frequency (such as 2 times/min) have been used. This can be rather dangerous and may cause unforeseen break down of the compressors. As such, for the optimum safety, the conservative design factors are always recommended. Beyond the size issue, other requirements for receiver tanks to be used in Malaysia are: a) Design approval from the Factories and Machinery Department, Malaysia. b) Tested to the satisfaction of Factories and Machinery Department, Malaysia. The receivers should also be equipped with Safety Valves of the appropriate flow and pressure ratings, Pressure Gauges of the appropriate size, accuracy and range and drain mechanism. For further details, please refer to the Factory and Machinery (Steam Boiler and Unfired Pressure Vessel) Regulations, 1970.

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Sizing the Air Receiver


3rd Article:
Design Codes: Air receivers and Pressure vessels are built to many codes including some of the following: BS 5169, EN 286, ASME, PD 5500, PED, SPVD, DNV, AD-Merkblatter, 87/404/EEC, EN13445, CODAP 95, CODETI 95, TRD, TRG, 94/55/EC, 76/767. Inlet & Outlet Connections: BSPT female sockets or flanged to BS4504:PN16 as indicated above. Fittings: Include relief valve, pressure gauge & drain valve. Finish: Inside self colour, Outside wire brushed and one coat of transit primer. Sizing the air receiver The sizing of receivers is important as it has a direct impact on both the overall reliability and the energy efficiency of the compressed air system. The size of an air receiver will depend on the amount of fluctuation in air demand. In most cases an adequately sized receiver will be able to supply the extra air during a high demand period and then recharge when the demand drops off. This function allows the air compressor to be sized for the average demand, rather than for the maximum demand. In some cases when the fluctuation is too great, a solution can be to have a smaller compressor that can kick in as required. There are a number of formulae for calculating the storage volume required. However, the following empirical rule can provide an approximation for planning purposes, taking into account the compressor(s) output and the pattern of demand. The Air receiver should be sized (in Litres) to be at least 6 10 times the compressor free air output (in litres/s). It is also worth considering the following:

To provide optimum performance, the receiver should be sized for the largest expected air demand event. An undersized receiver will cause the compressor to cycle frequently in response to small changes in pressure. An oversized receiver will cost more and will store more air, but it will require the compressor to remain on load for longer periods to recharge the air receiver. This is balanced by the extra time the compressor will have to cool before it must come on load again.

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Sizing the Air Receiver


The volume of the pipe work is often significant but is not included in the calculations. An effective control system will ensure that the receiver volume balances the demand from the system with the supply from the compressor.

Additional local air receivers for intermittent demands To provide optimal performance, receivers need to be sized to handle the largest demand for air in the system. However, this event may be a process or an item of equipment with a large intermittent air demand. In situations where the demand is not continuous, it is better to install an air receiver close to the process/equipment rather than to oversize the main air receiver or to install an additional compressor that would stand idle most of the time. To determine whether a local (auxiliary) air receiver is needed:

Calculate the total maximum storage for the main receiver as described above. Then calculate the storage required for the largest event. If this exceeds 10% of the total, then a local air receiver is recommended.

The air receiver should be sized (in litres) to be at least 610 times the compressor free air output (in litres/s). Storage For example, if the total compressor output is 20 litres/s, then the maximum air storage is 200 litres. If the single largest event is 2.5 litres/s, then the maximum air storage is 25 litres. In this instance, installation of a local air receiver is recommended. The size of any reserve air capacity is dependent upon the amount of air used per operation and the pressure drop that can be tolerated; it can be calculated as follows: Required receiver volume = Demand per operation (litres free air) / Acceptable pressure drop (bar). It is important to check that the compressor is large enough to recharge the air receiver up to the original pressure before the next period of high demand.

Sources: Internet