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A Simple Guide to Compressor Technology in Ethylene Plants

What is a Compressor?

A compressor is a mechanical device like a pump that is used in various different applications.  A compressor can only do its function with gas because liquids are a lot harder to compress. In some cases, the portion of a reciprocating air compressor that performs the compression function is called a pump. A pump will work with any fluid, whether liquid or gas.

For example, while pumps can work on either liquids or gases, compressors generally work only on gases. That's because liquids are very difficult to compress. The atoms and molecules from which liquids are made are so tightly packed that you can't really squeeze them any closer together (an important piece of science that's put to very good use in hydraulic machines).Pressure washers, which make a powerful jet of water for cleaning things, are an exception: they work by squeezing liquids to higher pressures and speeds. Coffee machines also squeeze water to high pressure to make stronger and tastier drinks.

Ethylene Plants

Ethylene is a small hydrocarbon gas. It is naturally occurring, but it can also occur as a result of combustion and other processes. You can't see or smell it. Some fruit will produce ethylene as ripening begins. Apples and pears are examples of fruit that produce ethylene with ripening. Ethylene is responsible for the changes in texture, softening, color, and other processes involved in ripening. Fruits such as cherries and blueberries do not produce much ethylene and it doesn't influence their ripening.

Ethylene is widely used in chemical industry, and its worldwide production (over 109 million tons in 2006) exceeds that of any other organic compound. We know that ethylene is the simplest olefin and is a colorless, flammable gas with a sweetish taste and odor. The petrochemical having the highest volume, it occurs in petroleum and natural gas but is usually produced by heating higher hydrocarbons; usually ethane and ethane-propane mixtures. Ethylene is polymerized to polyethylene either at high pressures and temperatures or by catalysis. It reacts with numerous other chemicals to produce ethanol, solvents, gasoline additives, antifreeze, detergents and various plastics.

Want to know what compressor technology in Ethylene plants does and how it works? Are you finding it hard to understand what an ethylene compressor is? Find out more about our compressor course and air compressor training.

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