© ebm-papst | Gernot Walter

“We already had the in-house exper­tise” 

Gases such as propane or isobu­tane can be compressed effi­ciently with the new turbo­com­pres­sors from ebm-papst. Philipp Hand­schuh, Head of the High­Speed depart­ment, explains how the compres­sors work without any oil and why this is special.

Why did ebm-papst develop a turbo compressor?

In recent years, the leaps in effi­ciency for fans have become steadily smaller due to phys­ical constraints. At the same time, we were receiving more and more requests for compres­sors to generate cooling or heat. For us, the next logical step was not just to move air, but also to compress gases in general – with compact solu­tions that fit into various customer appli­ca­tions such as air condi­tioners and heat pumps.

And there was no ques­tion from the outset that we could develop these compres­sors. After all, with aero­dy­namics, motor tech­nology and elec­tronics, we already had the most impor­tant exper­tise in-house. We just needed to bring them together and add bearing produc­tion for high-speed drives. For reasons of sustain­ability, we decided to develop oil-free refrig­erant compres­sors and use natural refrig­er­ants such as propane and isobu­tane.

With its high-speed tech­nology, ebm-papst compresses refri­gerants such as propane in air condi­tioners and heat pumps without using any oil.

Philipp Hand­schuh, Head of the High­Speed depart­ment

Why is “oil-free” so special?

First, it is the combi­na­tion with the perfor­mance classes in which our compressor oper­ates. Until now, there have been no oil-free alter­na­tives on the market in the range from one to 45 kilo­watts of elec­trical power consump­tion. Second, our compressor runs much more smoothly without oil, thanks to a gas cushion that the drive rotor “glides” on. This enables us to achieve higher speeds with the same energy input and signif­i­cantly less wear in the drive bearing.

And it’s also cleaner?

Absolutely! Our customers no longer need to top up or dispose of oil, which saves time and money and protects the envi­ron­ment. In addi­tion, oil in heating and refrig­er­a­tion circuits leads to pres­sure losses, poorer heat transfer, and ulti­mately to higher energy consump­tion. Further­more, our oil-free and non-contact bear­ings allow signif­i­cantly higher speeds to be achieved during oper­a­tion, which in turn enables more compact and lighter solu­tions.

35 g/s

Mass flow rate for propane (R290)

2040 %

more refrig­er­a­tion cycle effi­ciency


Pres­sure Ratio

3,1 kW elec­trical power consump­tion at

240.000 U/min

Speaking of refrig­er­ants: Why does ebm-papst use propane?

It has very good ther­mo­dy­namic prop­er­ties and a low Global Warming Poten­tial (GWP) value. What’s more, propane is not affected by the F-Gas Regu­la­tion and covers a wide temper­a­ture range from −40 to +70 degrees Celsius. For temper­a­tures above this, we use butane and isobu­tane, which also have low GWPs. Air is best suited for temper­a­tures below −50 degrees Celsius.

What else can customers expect from the turbo compres­sors?

Our plat­form strategy allows us to offer our compressor for many different appli­ca­tions and require­ments. In addi­tion, we aim to provide our customers with complete system solu­tions in this area too. This means that we also support our customers during commis­sioning and help them to opti­mally configure their heating and refrig­er­a­tion circuits.

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