How Does Compressed Air Power Motors?: The Technology of Air Motors

Are you looking to make the jump into using cleaner energy in your home or business? Well, compressed air might just be the thing you need. 

So how does compressed air power motors and will it provide the type of energy that you require?

Check out our simple guide to the technology behind air motors. 

Principle of Pneumatics

Pneumatics works by putting compressed air to use. Think about blowing up a balloon and then letting it go, and watch it fly around the room with mad speed. That is essentially how air compressors work.

It’s the science of pressure and how gases store energy when you compress them.

The Laws of Physics

Physics laws dictate that when gas is unrestricted, it will fill any given space. By compressing air into a small space, energy is stored. When the air is able to expand again, the energy is released and able to do its work.

Powering a Motor Using Compressed Air

There are a couple of key components needed to make a pneumatic machine work. A compressor is required to make air, a reservoir is necessary to store the air, valves control the air which then moves between a circuit. And finally, an actuator or motor uses the air to do something.

Let’s break it down:


This component takes ordinary air and compresses it to 7 to 10 times atmospheric pressure. This is the foundation of any motor powered by air. This is simply the converting component, from normal air to compressed air.

Actuators and Motors

This is the ‘mover’ component and is essentially the part that turns the air into something useful. This component depends on the function of the thing that is being powered. It may be a mechanical arm that swings and lifts things or a pneumatic drill pumped by a piston.

Actuators are usually powered by pistons that reciprocate – move back and forth. This is the fundamental channel for turning the compressed air energy into kinetic energy.


Pneumatic machines oftentimes have a very complex circuit with all kinds of machines powered by one huge compressor. The way that you can create complex electronic circuits by different arrangements of the same components, pneumatic circuits work the same.

Applications of Compressed Air Motors

Pneumatic motors have widespread applications. The most common is handheld and power tools as well as pulse tools. 

Air compressed motors are also commonly used in transportation. Check out Gast Manufacturing for high-quality air motors if you’re ready to use cleaner, safer energy. 

Benefits of Using Pneumatic Motors

A big upside of using air-powered machinery and tools is the safety aspect. Taking electricity out of the occasion reduces the risk of a fire or gas explosion.

Pneumatic powered tools also tend to be more convenient as they are usually lighter and more compact. This is very beneficial for handheld tools.

They offer a greater power density than a large electric motor, generate less heat, and do not need an auxiliary speed controller.

Air Motors Provide Clean and Efficient Energy

It’s quite impressive how something as ‘simple’ as air can be turned into energy that can power air motors, heavy-duty tools, machinery, and transportation. By turning compressed air into kinetic energy, these motors provide a clean and efficient energy solution. 

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