Used to power a variety of commercial and industrial equipment, air compressors are some of the most important tools in these modern times. There are a variety of makes and models on the open market; their configuration often being influenced by issues such as the ultimate application and the amount of pressure that is required.

However, it is also important to appreciate that these machines tend to operate under similar principles. How does an air compressor function? Answering this question is often critical when diagnosing potential problems or determining which model is the most suited for your needs.

The Fundamental Principles Behind an Air Compressor

Air compressors are essentially tools which are capable of converting one form of power (such as that supplied by a diesel motor or electric generator) into another. An air compressor will first pump a volume of air into a heavy-duty storage tank. The pressure of this air will increase in direct relation to how much is found within the tank at any given time.

Every tank is provided with a storage limit (normally measured in terms of pounds per square inch). Larger tanks are generally associated with higher pressure limits, as they can store a greater volume of air.

From Potential to Kinetic Energy

The main purpose of any model (such as a Clarke compressor) is to transform the stored energy within the tank into a form which can be actively used to drive other mechanisms. This essentially involves a rapid transformation between potential and kinetic energy. Of course, there are several other components which are critical during the everyday use of an air compressor. These include:

  • Air filters
  • Hoses and connections
  • Readout gauges
  • Emergency relief valves
  • Belts, motors and couplings


The team at PMJ International is pleased to provide a number of high-quality parts from respected manufacturers such as Ingersoll Rand, Mattei and Atlas Copco. Whether you require a replacement accessory on short notice or you wish to learn more about our wide range of options, please feel free to contact a representative directly.