How Does a Natural Gas Compressor Work - Samco Enterprises

How Does a Natural Gas Compressor Work, and the Parts to Know

It’s important to how a natural gas compressor works and the compressor parts to know. Read further on.

A natural gas compressor is a mechanical device designed to minimize the volume of natural gas by significantly boosting the pressure of the gas.

This occurs for only 2 reasons:

  1. To utilize the pressurization as well as the accompanying volume reduction in order to transport natural gas via pipelines for efficient distribution over large regions such as distribution to customers or pipeline transportation.
  2. To minimize the volume of natural gas in order to store larger quantities in bottles or tanks for transport or storage.

Natural gas compressors are essential pieces of industrial machinery and one of the vital keys of the entire natural gas transportation as well as a distribution network.

Why Compress Natural Gas?

Compressing gas is a procedure usually employed when perfect conditions do not generally exist for a wide variety of processes. Most producers generally compress gas for the following reasons:

  • Upstream

Producers mostly use compression to inject gas right back into the well to assist in lifting or pushing liquids to the surface. They also use compression as a means of compressing low-pressure gas off control devices, tanks, as well as other pieces of equipment in order to assist in disposing of fugitive emissions.

  • Midstream

Compression is used in this sector to transport natural gas from one point or location to the other via several miles of pipes.

  • Downstream

Compression assists in the elimination of liquids in order to meet safety and consumer requirements.

How A Natural Gas Compressor Works

Two major types of natural gas compressors are used extensively for industrial purposes:

  1. Reciprocating compressors
  2. Screw compressors

These natural gas compressors don’t operate the same way, though the outcome is usually the same. Here’s how each of these natural gas compressors work:

1. Reciprocating compressors

The reciprocating natural gas compressor is the favorite choice across several industries. This mechanical device uses positive displacement and crankshaft-driven pistons to efficiently compress natural gas to the correct or specific pre-set pressure.

Reciprocating compressors have 3 major operating stages that enable them to perform as expected. Here are the stages:

  • Stage 1

During this first stage of gas compression, the natural gas is introduced into the machine via an inlet. It passes through an in-set scrubber that ensures all liquids are extracted from the gas and drained away.

The crankshaft-driven pistons push and efficiently compress the gas, increasing its pressure and temperature. The natural gas is then forced through an intercooler, a device that helps cools down the gas.

The natural gas heating and cooling process allow more condensate to be ejected from the gas. Afterward, the gas goes through another scrubber for the liquids to collect.

  • Stage 2

At this stage, the gas is pushed along with another piston in order to boost the pressure further. This significantly raises the temperature of the natural gas again. The gas will be passed through the intercooler to further reduce the temperature. More condensation and liquids fall out of the natural gas in this last scrubber.

  • Stage 3

At this stage, the natural gas undergoes one last stage before the entire compression process is complete. The piston again works by pushing the natural gas in order to compress it further, increasing pressure and temperature even more.

As the pressure increases, the temperature rises accordingly. The natural gas is then pushed right through the intercooler for the last time. Some industries even use an additional scrubber in order to get rid of more condensate. However, this is becoming less and less common.

2. Screw compressors

This compressor utilizes a pair of rotors or helical screws usually matched side by side to spin in order to compress the natural gas.

The natural gas comes into the inlet via suction and moves around the threads of the helical screws as they spin in order to compress the gas while going through the mechanical device.

The compressed gas is discharged at the other end of the machine but at a higher pressure.

Screw natural gas compressors are often used in businesses and industries that do not require an extremely high volume of gas or gas pressure, unlike their counterpart, the reciprocating natural gas compressors.

Parts of a Natural Gas Compressor You Need to Know

Natural gas compressors are highly complicated mechanical devices composed of vital components that allow them to perform exceptional functions.

Knowing these key components is crucial, especially when you are about to rent or purchase a gas compressor for your needs. It gives you a better understanding of every component of the system. Seeking frequent maintenance services or replacement of vital equipment becomes easier.

Here are some of the vital parts of a natural gas compressor:

      • Piston Rings
      • Intercoolers
      • Aftercoolers
      • Valve Plates
      • Cylinders
      • Separators
      • Gaskets
      • Piston Rods
      • Filters
      • Bearings
      • Packing

Natural gas compressors come in a wide range of sizes in order to be suitable for several industrial jobs. Smaller compressors are generally used to gather fugitive gases and vapors for lower pressures and natural gas volumes.

Medium-sized compressors are usually used for gathering systems, wellheads, and many other industrial uses. The largest natural gas compressors use multiple stages, which is common at compressor stations along pipelines that transport incredibly large qualities of natural gas.

Natural Gas Compressors: The Industries That Use Natural Gas

Natural gas has several industrial purposes, from powering machinery to providing serving as an energy source. It is also a major ingredient or component in multiple manufacturing products like anti-freeze, fertilizers, fabrics, and plastics.

The small number of industries that use natural gas extensively include:

Natural gas serves several purposes in most industries, including cooking, heating, cooking, etc., at home. It also has commercial and residential uses for preheating metals like iron and steel, treating as well as incinerating waste matter, etc.


Natural gas compressors are mechanical devices made up of several components. They are key pieces of industrial machinery and play essential roles in natural gas transportation and distribution network.

Knowing the components that make up a natural gas compressor is vital, especially if you need to purchase one for your needs. It also makes it easier to seek equipment replacement or frequent maintenance.