What are the Different Methods of Air Pressure Control?

Larry Ray Palmer

There are several different approaches to providing air pressure control. Depending upon the application, these devices can be something as simple as an air regulator or air valve, or as complex as complete cabin pressurization systems used on aircraft. Air pressure control is used in industry to run pneumatic tools, in medicine to create hyperbaric chambers, and in aircraft to create safe cabin pressures for the occupants.

A hyperbaric chamber, which works via air pressure control.
A hyperbaric chamber, which works via air pressure control.

The most basic type of air pressure control is the air valve. The air valve permits the one-way flow of air into or out of a chamber. Common examples of these valves can be found in inflatable products such as tires or air mattresses. An air valve may also be used in conjunction with an air compressor and hose to permit the use of compressed air for cleaning applications or use with basic pneumatic tools.

The valve on a bicycle tire is a form of air pressure control.
The valve on a bicycle tire is a form of air pressure control.

In most cases, the use of pneumatic tools will require the addition of an air regulator to control the exact amount of pressure being delivered to the tool. The air regulator provides control of the air pressure to prevent damage to the pneumatic tool caused by too much or too little pressure. Excessive air pressure can cause premature breakdown of the rubber seals and O-rings in pneumatic tools, while too little air pressure can result in malfunction.

Another industrial application of air pressure control is the air pressure system. This system can be used to create an atmosphere around a product that has an extremely high air pressure, called a pressurization chamber, or remove all air pressure from a chamber, creating a vacuum chamber. These industrial air pressure control methods are used for a variety of purposes, including pressure injection molding and welding.

In some cases, entire rooms are fitted with air pressure control systems which are designed to create a negative pressure or vacuum in the room. This application of air pressure control is commonly seen in medical facilities or industrial settings where dangerous chemicals are being worked with. In the event of an emergency, the negative pressure of the room will draw outside air into the room rather than letting dangerous chemicals or substances escape. This type of system may also be set-up as a temporary installation for jobs such as asbestos or lead abatement, where dangerous clouds of particle enriched dust are created.

The commercial aircraft industry uses air pressure control to create a safe and comfortable cabin air pressure for passengers and crew. At high altitudes, the loss of air pressure can create severe discomfort. Aircraft are equipped with air pressure control devices which create an artificial cabin air pressure that is significantly higher than that of the outside atmosphere. As the plane ascends or descends, the air pressure system automatically regulates the cabin pressure to ensure the safety and comfort of the passengers and crew.

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