An Overview of Air Pressure Regulators
Air pressure regulators are valves designed to automatically limit airflow pressure when it reaches a certain level. By doing so, they minimize the risk of pressure fluctuation to ensure the system maintains consistent air pressure levels. The following article provides an overview of pressure regulators, including what they are, what their function is, types available, selection considerations, and typical applications.
How Does an Air Pressure Regulator Work?
Pressure regulators consist of three primary elements: a pressure-reducing element, a pressure-sensing element (e.g., diaphragm or piston), and a reference force element. In operation, the reference force element prompts the reducing element to open. The air flowing into the valve presses against the sensing element, which then prompts the valve to close when pressure levels reach a set standard.
When used within pneumatic systems, these devices result in the following:
- Better system operator safety
- Lower system operating costs
- Greater consistency in air flows and pressures
Types of Air Pressure Regulators
Air pressure regulators are available in several variations to suit different industrial applications. Some of the most commonly employed include:
- General–purpose regulators are designed for use with pressures above atmospheric pressure. They are typically rated for inlet pressures of 20 bar and outlet pressures of 16 bar, depending on the construction material.
- High–pressure regulators accommodate inlet pressures above 70 bar.
- Pilot–operated regulators support air pressure control from a remote location. While they offer greater control capabilities than general-purpose regulators, they generally come with a higher price tag.
- Precision pressure regulators allow for more precise adjustment of air pressure in applications where a very specific or tight tolerance range of pressure is essential. In some situations, these regulators may require pre-filtering before they can filter pressure.
Selection Considerations for Air Pressure Regulators
When choosing a pressure regulator for a system, there are many factors to keep in mind to ensure the selected regulating device operates as intended. These design considerations include:
The first consideration for choosing a pressure regulator is establishing the amount of pressure the component should be able to accommodate at both the input and output ports. For pressures below 1000 psi, a general-purpose regulator may suffice, while pressures above 1000 psi may require the use of a high-pressure regulator.
Fluctuations in inlet and outlet flow and pressure affect the flow requirements for a pressure regulator. Pressures and flows that are too high or too low can cause an improperly selected regulator to fail to perform as intended.
Operating Fluid and Environment
The materials employed for the construction of a pressure regulator should be compatible with the fluid media running through the system. For example, acetal polymers are suitable for environments with strong chemicals, aluminum is appropriate for use with oxidizing compounds, and stainless steel is ideal for corrosive materials.
The construction materials should also accommodate the operating temperatures of the system. As pneumatic systems can operate at high or low temperatures, the design and construction of the pressure regulator should be planned accordingly in regard to the expected operating conditions. Typical materials used include polysulfone, Buna-N, EPDM, acetal, polyurethane, and stainless steel.
Size and Weight
The size and weight of a pressure regulator depend on the specific application. For example, some advanced applications, such as medical operations, require compact and lightweight units. Modifying both the design (port size, mounting style, etc.) and the construction material helps industry professionals achieve the size and weight they need.
Applications of Air Pressure Regulators
Air pressure regulators find use in many industrial, commercial, and residential applications. Some examples of common equipment and systems they may be found in include:
- Fuel engines
- Medical and dental equipment
- Natural gas furnaces
- Pneumatic automation systems
- Propane gas grills
Contact the Pneumatic Component Experts at Airtrol Components Today
At Airtrol Components Inc., we are a leading supplier of high-quality precision miniature pneumatic system components, including air pressure regulators, vacuum regulators, relief valves, and comparators. In addition to our standard product offerings, we provide custom design and modification services to accommodate highly specific needs. For more information about our air pressure regulator or other product solutions, contact us today.