Sound Reduction of Air Compressors Using a Systematic Approach

Justin Moylan, Clemson University


The noise emitted by portable electric air compressors can often be a nuisance or potentially hazardous to the operator or others nearby. Therefore, reducing the noise of these air compressors is desired. This research focuses on compressors with a reciprocating piston design as this is the most common type of pump design for portable compressors. An experimental setup was developed to measure the sound and vibration of the air compressors, including testing inside a semi-anechoic chamber. The design of a quiet air compressor was performed in four stages: 1) Teardown and benchmarking of air compressors, 2) Identification and isolation of noise sources, 3) Development of individual means to quiet noise sources, 4) Selection and testing of integrated solutions. The systematic approach and results for each of these stages will be discussed. Two redesigned solutions were developed and measured to be approximately 65% quieter than the previous unmodified compressor. An additional analysis was performed on the solutions selected by the participants involved in the selection process. This analysis involved determining which of the design criteria each participant considered most important when selecting solutions. The results from each participant were then compared to their educational background and experience and correlations were identified. The correlations discovered suggest that educational background and experience may be key determinants for the preference models developed.