Rotary Vane Compressor: Definition, Working Principle, Application, Advantages [PDF]

Rotary Vane Compressor was invented by Charles C. Barnes of Sackville, New Brunswick, who patented it on 16 June 1874. In this article we will learn about rotary vane compressor in detail. Let’s start with the definition of rotary vane compressor.

What is Rotary Vane Compressor?

A rotary vane compressor always compresses the gas to the design pressure defined by the manufacturer, regardless of the pressure in the system which the compressor is discharging. This is a positive-displacement pump that consists of vanes mounted to a rotor that rotates inside a cavity. The vane-type compressor consists of a cylindrical rotor with longitudinal slots in which radial sliding vanes are fitted.

The rotor is positioned eccentrically within a cylindrical housing. The spaces between adjacent vanes form pockets of decreasing volume from a fixed inlet port to a fixed discharge port. Compressor inlet and discharge valves are not employed in the design.

3D Model of rotary vane compressor

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Rotary Vane Compressor Working principle:

Rotary compressors are another type of famous compressor. It uses two Asymmetrical rotors that are also called helical screws to compress the air. The rotors have a very special shape and they turn in opposite directions with very little clearance between them. The rotors are covered by cooling jackets. Two shafts on the rotors have been placed that transfer their motion with the help of timing gears that are attached at the starting point of the shafts/compressor (as shown in the image).

Rotary Vane compressor diagram

Air is sucked in at one end and gets trapped between the rotors and gets pushed to another side of the rotors. The air is pushed by the rotors that are rotating in the opposite direction and compression is done when it gets trapped in clearance between the two rotors. Then it pushes towards the pressure side.

Rotary screw compressors are of two types :

  • Oil-injected
  • Oil-free

Oil-injected is cheaper and more common than oil-free rotary screw compressors.

Rotary Vane Compressor Application:

The following application of rotary vane compressors are:

  • Agriculture
  • Body shop and Automotives
  • Dry cleaning
  • Energy
  • Food and beverages
  • Manufacturing
  • Medical and Dental.

Rotary vane Compressor Advantages:

The following are the advantages of rotary vane compressor :

  • It gives oil-free air output.
  • This is suitable in case of continuous air supply.
  • High power (up to 500 hp) & high pressure (up to 85 bar) compression is possible.

Rotary Vane Compressor Disadvantages:

The following are the disadvantages of rotary vane compressor :

  • The maintenance cost is high because they have more moving parts.
  • Vibration during reciprocation of the cylinder.


What are Rotary Vane Compressor used for?

Rotary Vane Compressor are used to replace piston compressors, places where large volumes of high pressure air is needed, etc.

What are the 4 types of Rotary Vane Compressor?

The following are the types of Rotary Vane Compressor :
1. Screw Type Compressors
2. Scroll Type Compressors
3. Vane Type Compressors
4. Lobe Type Compressors

What material is rotor vane made of in a Rotary Vane Compressor?

The rotor vane is generally made up of Carbon or Graphite in a Rotary Vane Compressor.


In conclusion we can say that Rotary Vane Compressor are versatile machine that has numerous benefits and low maintenance. They are used in industries such as manufacturing, automotive, etc. Out of all the compressors available in the market the Rotary Vane Compressor stands out due to its unique design, smooth and quiet operation, etc. Overall they are a valuable asset for many industries for various applications.

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