Reciprocating Gas Compressors

Reciprocating compressors are the most widely used type of compressor.

Reciprocating compressors are positive displacement similar to a typical bicycle pump.

The cylinder begins the cycle filled with gas at the intake pressure. The piston strokes inwards, decreasing the volume of the cylinder and therefore increasing the pressure. Once the desired pressure of the gas is reached, the discharge valve opens, and the piston pushes some of the high pressure gas out. At the end of the stroke, the piston reverses direction. Once the pressure of the remaining gas in the cylinder is the same as the intake pressure, the intake valve opens, refilling the cylinder.

Most reciprocating compressors are used to generate pressurized air. The compressors shown below are used to pressurize air in healthcare facilities. The most common applications in refineries are hydrogen-rich streams, refinery fuel gas, and refrigeration systems.


  • Especially useful for low to moderate flow rates, low molecular weight gases, and high required discharge pressures
  • Easily multi-staged


  • Low capacity
  • Low reliability due to many wearing parts
  • High maintenance required
  • Little flexibility in material choices
  • Pulsation and unbalanced forces created by reciprocating motion
  • Refinery fuel gas
  • Refrigeration Systems
  • Liquefied Gas Transfer
  • Liquid Transfer
  • Air Boosting
  • Vapor Recovery
  • Oil & Gas
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmeceuticals
  • Process Gas
  • Energy
  • Transport
Andrew López, PE

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McKenna Engineering offers sales, service, and repair to Reciprocating Gas Compressors from the following manufacturers:

Corken Industrial Gas Compressor Solutions


Corken is a leading manufacturer of industrial compressors, industrial pumps, and bypass valves. Corken specializes in compressors designed for liquefied gas transfer, liquid transfer, air boosting, and vapor recovery applications within the process gas, energy, and transport industries.


Blackmer was incorporated in 1903 and is a leading manufacturer of positive displacement sliding vane pumps. Blackmer pumps are used in a variety of industries including LPG, chemical processing, refined fuels, petroleum, food & sanitary and the mobile transport industries.

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General Engineering

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