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Analysis of the Causes of Carbon Deposits in Variable Frequency Air Compressor Oil Circuits

Analysis of the Causes of Carbon Deposits in Variable Frequency Air Compressor Oil Circuits
October 06, 2023

Variable frequency air compressors are indispensable equipment in the industrial sector, serving a wide range of applications.   However, one common issue that affects their performance is the accumulation of carbon deposits in the oil circuits.   In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the formation of carbon deposits in variable frequency air compressor oil circuits.

air screw compressor

1.   Incomplete Combustion:

Incomplete combustion occurs when the air-fuel mixture does not burn completely.   This can be caused by improper fuel-air ratios, worn-out spark plugs, or clogged fuel injectors.   Incomplete combustion leads to the production of soot and carbon particles, which can find their way into the oil circuit through the piston rings or valve seals.


2.   Contaminated Air Intake:

Airborne contaminants, such as dust, dirt, and debris, can enter the air intake system of the compressor.   When these contaminants mix with the oil, they form carbon deposits.   The presence of contaminants is often associated with poor maintenance practices, inadequate filtration systems, or operating in dusty environments.


3.   Oil Degradation:

Over time, the oil used in oil injected air compressor can degrade due to high temperatures, oxidation, and the accumulation of impurities.   Degraded oil loses its lubricating properties and becomes more prone to the formation of carbon deposits.   Regular oil analysis and timely oil changes are essential to prevent oil degradation and subsequent carbon buildup.


4.   High Operating Temperatures:

Variable frequency air compressors can generate high temperatures during operation due to the compression process.   Elevated temperatures can cause oil oxidation, leading to the formation of carbon deposits.   Insufficient cooling or inadequate heat dissipation mechanisms can exacerbate this issue.   Ensuring proper ventilation and cooling systems are in place is crucial to prevent excessive heat buildup.


5.   Oil Additive Breakdown:

Additives in compressor oils play a vital role in preventing carbon deposits and maintaining oil performance.   However, these additives can break down over time, reducing their effectiveness.   This breakdown can be accelerated by high operating temperatures, prolonged use, or contaminated oil.   Regular inspection and replacement of oil additives can help combat carbon deposit formation.



Carbon deposits in screw air compressor oil circuits can significantly impact performance and efficiency.   Understanding the root causes of carbon buildup is essential for implementing preventive measures.   Regular maintenance, including proper air filtration, oil analysis, cooling system checks, and timely oil changes, can help mitigate the formation of carbon deposits.   By addressing these issues, the lifespan and reliability of variable frequency air compressors can be extended while ensuring optimal performance.

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