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A reciprocating air compressor which is also known as piston compressor is a positive-

displacement compressor that uses pistons driven by a crankshaft to deliver gases at high
pressure. The air compressor is called reciprocating because the piston goes back and
forth in a reciprocal motion. Basically, air compressor consists of a cylinder with a
piston, piston rod, connecting rod, crank, suction pipe, delivery pipe, suction valve, and
delivery valve. Even though reciprocating compressor is used to compress air but they
also have been used in refrigeration to compress superheated air. This compressor is
normally used in gas transmission pipelines, petrochemical plants and refineries. The
main advantage of air reciprocating compressor is that it can achieve high pressure ratios
and relatively cheap. Reciprocating air compressor can be further divided into single-
acting reciprocating compressors and double-acting reciprocating compressors. Single-
acting reciprocating compressor only have valves on top of the cylinder. Hence, there is
only one compression cycle for every turn of the crankshaft. This reciprocating works as
there are inlet or suction valve and discharge valve. The inlet valve allow the air to come
into the cylinder whereas the discharge valve will only allow air out. When the piston
moves downward through the cylinder, air will be sucked into the inlet valve. Following
that, the piston moves up through the cylinder and this causes the inlet valve closes and
the discharge can only open by applying a certain amount of force. As a result, air will be
trapped inside while the volume is reduced, increasing the pressure. When the pressure is
enough to open the discharge valve, then the air goes out at the higher pressure. However
in double stage reciprocating which is also called as earth movers, they have inlet and
discharge valves on both sides of the cylinder which gives two compression cycles for
every turn of the crankshaft.

Diagram 1: Shows the reciprocating air compressor