Southampton University Compressed Air System Project

Southampton University Compressed Air System Project

We were recently commissioned to design and install a compressed air system capable of delivering 5kg/sec of compressed air for 1 minute every hour to an avionics research department at Southampton University. This is the equivalent of 10,000 cubic feet per minute when expressed as a volumetric flow rate and is  the equivalent of some 2000kW of compressor power!

In order to achieve the mass flow required we needed to install an extremely large air receiver, in fact this specially manufactured horizontal air receiver fabricated by A J Metals Ltd (Dudley) turned out to be the largest air receiver IAP have ever supplied or even encountered. The receiver is over 20M in length with a volume 30 M3 (30,000L). Positioning a vessel of this size was a task in itself, the most convenient location for the receiver turned out to be on the roof of the building, requiring a large crane to lift the vessel from our road transport over and onto the roof.

The vessel was supplied with compressed air with a package comprising of an Ingersoll Rand R –Series 55Kw compressor and Beko desiccant dryer operating at 14 barg.

The vessel takes 59 minutes to achieve its full working pressure of 14 barg from the minimum operating pressure of 5 barg.

In order to provide the required discharge flow rate over the full 1 minute without encountering any detrimental pressure drop it was necessary to install a 300mm steel discharge pipe from the outlet of the vessel over the roof of the building into the required lab facility within the building.

This enormous volume of compressed air is used to replicate a “Sonic boom” (Ludwig tube) experiment.