CAPS compressor instrumental to University of Melbourne research


The high-pressure Sauer compressor from CAPS Australia is helping researchers at the University of Melbourne develop accurate testing processes. 

When University of Melbourne PhD researcher Junqiu Jiang walks into the Mechanical Engineering laboratory to conduct tests on hydrogen gas with a Plug Flow Reactor, one of the first things he does is to turn on the high-pressure Sauer compressor unit the lab has received from CAPS Australia.  

The unit, which CAPS Australia’s Melbourne division helped design and deliver, can compress air at a maximum pressure of 80 bars, at a 30 grams-per-second flow rate. The Sauer high pressure unit also features high-pressure BEKO air dryer system to remove moisture and oil from the air – something that’s critical to Jiang’s test processes.  

Jiang’s research aims to create an accurate theoretical model for hydrogen oxidation by simulating a high flow reactor. As such, his study relies on high-pressure compressed air to dilute the gases he experiments with. 

“When you need to design something, you want to be able to simulate it first instead of building a prototype every time. That’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to make an accurate hydrogen combustion model,” says Jiang. 

CAPS’ product manager for gas and special products, William Chan, says the unit was designed by CAPS with the specific requirements of the research in mind. 

“We followed the process we usually follow for any of CAPS customers, which is to gather information about the flow rate, the pressure, the type of gas and the air quality required. Based on those parameters, we recommended the Sauer high-pressure compressor and the BEKO air drier as they provided the best combination for the laboratory’s application,” says Chan. 

Once CAPS engineers defined the parameters, the unit was manufactured by Sauer and shipped to Australia via sea. The overall time from order to delivery was less than 20 weeks. CAPS’ local service team in Melbourne then helped the university with the final commissioning. 

The University of Melbourne is not the only higher education institute where CAPS’ compressors are helping research. William says CAPS’ oil-free and high-pressure compressors are installed in multiple universities in Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and ACT.   

CAPS Australia territory manager, Martin Wahl, says being the largest independent compressed power generation provider in Australia enables CAPS to custom design compressor units in collaboration with leading global manufacturers – without being limited to any one company’s products. 

“CAPS works with a number of local companies to assist with the pipework and installation. In this case, the University of Melbourne undertook the installation themselves, but our engineers conducted the pre-commissioning checks to make sure everything was installed correctly,” says Wahl. 

“CAPS is the exclusive distributor of the Sauer industrial range in Australia. We are also the biggest local distributor of BEKO dryer systems. Both companies are known as high-end brands in their respective fields. At CAPS, we are never limited to off-the-shelf products. That enables us to provide fit-for-purpose compressors to our customers.” 

Headquartered in Perth, CAPS Australia has over 200 employees across nine branches nationwide. That is another reason Wahl says the University of Melbourne chose CAPS. 

“When the University of Melbourne decided to buy a compressor unit, CAPS was the only compressor company with a local presence in Victoria that could provide the service they were looking for. With a team comprising of engineers, support staff and an aftermarket service team, we were able to meet and exceed the university’s expectations.” 

Since installing the unit nearly two years ago, the CAPS service team has conducted one annual routine maintenance and assisted the lab with after-sale support, as Jiang explains. 

“CAPS has been very helpful in providing us with after-sales services. Last year, when we had some concerns regarding the heat generated from within the room, CAPS’ service team was quick to respond with a solution with extended intake from outside of the room and advised on installing powerful ventilator fans to solve the heat issue,” Jiang says. 

Though the Sauer compressor unit can provide up to 80 bars of pressure, Jiang is currently using about half of that pressure for his study. But the pressure can easily be regulated to higher levels for any future research program conducted in the lab. 

“The compressor has been a great addition to our laboratory. We had never had any compressor of such scale in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. I’m sure the compressor unit will work for many years and researchers after me will continue to see its benefits.”  

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