As the typical commercial aircraft often operates at altitudes ranging from 31,000 to 38,000 feet, they require an apparatus that is capable of increasing air density to match that of sea level. This is because more dense air provides for better fuel air mixtures, enabling optimal combustion and propulsion for flight. To create denser oxygen, aircraft rely on the compressor.
An aircraft compressor has the basic function of increasing air pressure to a value that is optimal for combustion and expansion of gases that power the turbine. The compressor assembly commonly contains parts such as the impeller or rotor, as well as a diffuser or compressor stator assembly. There are also two main categories of compressors that are used within aircraft, and these are the centrifugal and axial flow compressor.
The centrifugal compressor, also known as an annular compressor, features an impeller that accelerates the velocity of intake air by thrusting it outwards, causing pressure to rise. As pressure rises, the acceleration of the air slows and meets the diffusers. The main benefits of the centrifugal aircraft compressor are that they are simple to manufacture, and they are highly efficient at generating optimal pressure in a single stage. Nevertheless, they can be less fuel efficient and have decreased thrust production because of a lower pressure ratio.
The axial flow compressor assembly can accommodate more air as compared to a same size centrifugal compressor, touting a higher flow rate and pressure ratio. Because of this, the axial flow compressor is capable of providing better fuel efficiency and thrust generation. Despite this, axial flow compressors utilize many compressor stages and generally are not capable of providing optimal compression for many applications. As a result, the axial flow compressor is most often used in aircraft where the thrust produced by the engine is the main source for aircraft flight.
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