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How and Why Rotary Screw Compressors are Used In The Locomotive Industry

A number of advances have been made in the field of technology, over a long period of time. However, the technology that is used in the railroad industry specifically with regard to on board locomotives, have changed very little. Take the air brakes for example – these have remained virtually unaltered.

In the locomotive industry though steam technology would still work, the kind of efficiency and power that technology today demands would be impossible to achieve. Another loophole in the locomotive industry at the current times is the wide-scale use of less efficient reciprocating compressors. The way ahead for improvement in this industry is to replace reciprocating compressors with rotary screw technology.

Why Replace Reciprocating Compressors With Rotary Screw Compressors in Locomotive Industry:

There are a number of advantages that a rotary screw compressor offers over a number of advantages over a reciprocating air compressor. Some of them are mentioned as follows:

  1. Maintenance is simple in screw based air compressors
  2. Minimum oil-carryover
  3. Ability to function in rough and harsh environments
  4. Lesser consumption of oil
  5. Minimum heat generation
  6. Shockless compression technology
  7. Very less noise levels
  8. Lighter and portable
  9. Nil reduction in capacity over a period of time.


It is a pleasant surprise that rotary screw compressors have become one of the most widely used compressors in industrial applications. There are a number of uses of this particular type of air compressor in a number of industries. The reason why rotary screw compressors fit the need of railroad industry perfectly is that even with a simple design, these compressors can withstand extreme weather conditions, fluctuations and can give reliable output even in harsh conditions.

The Functioning of a Rotary Screw Compressor

In a screw compressor, two mated screws spin at an extremely high speed. These screws rely on the oil-injection seal for lubrication. When the screws rotate, the air is ingested through an inlet filter and goes into the compression chamber. Further, the air is compressed by the screw element that reduces the free space between the blades.

The oil separator in the rotary screw compressor is responsible for separating the oil from the compressed air. Once this is done, the compressed air is made to pass through an after cooler and then the cooled air is delivered to the locomotive brake system or to any other machine that is using the compressor.

Now that it has been established that rotary screw compressors are a better choice over reciprocating air compressor in a locomotive industry and in a number of other industries as well, we know what the right choice or alternative is.


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