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Did you know? A few fun facts about compressed air

Did you know that thunder is actually the sound of compressed air ‘exploding’? When a lightning bolt strikes the earth a second bolt instantaneously travels back to the sky vai the same route. This secondary bolt immediately heats the air surrounding it to around 27,000oC. This heated air has no time to expand and becomes pressurised from anuthing up to one hundred times more than normal atmospheric pressure. This highly pressurised air then ‘explodes’ outwards releasing energy in the form of sound waves – the thunder that we hear during a storm.

Did you know that the process of compressing air generates a significant amount of heat, which is why air compressors are generally cooled by oil, water or air? Almost 95% of the heat generated by an industrial rotary screw compressor can be harnessed and put to other uses such as providing building heating or hot water, achieving considerable energy savings.

Did you know that if you took two canisters of identical weight and filled one with air at atmospheric (i.e. normal) pressure and one with compressed air, the canister containing compressed air would be the heavier of the two?

Did you know that air guns – weapons which use compressed air to fire a projectile such as a bullet or lead shot – date back at least as far as the sixteenth century? An example of a bellows-driven mechanical airgun dating from 1580 can be seen in the Livrustkammaren Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

Did you know that falling water such as that from a high waterfall can be used to create sufficient compressed air to power a furnace or generate electricity? A tall, conical construction called a ‘trompe’ acts as an air compressor, where water falling through the cone draws in air which becomes compresses as the diameter of the cone narrows. This naturally compressed air can be extracted from the water in a separation chamber at the base of the trompe and stored or used as a power source.

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