What is a Pneumatic Motor?

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  • Written By: Angela Marcum
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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A pneumatic motor is a motor that uses compressed gas as an energy source. Compressed gas is a type of potential energy, the type of energy that is stored and transformed into kinetic, or working, energy. A pneumatic motor works by converting this stored energy into working energy by the expansion of the gas to allow the motor to operate. These motors are used in various settings, including but not limited to manufacturing, transportation, and within the construction industry.

Throughout points in the motor, there are cavities or spaces in which the compressed gas enters and is held. The pressure of the gas in these spaces is mainly controlled through the use of valves, which allow for the gas to be released easily and safely. The compressed gas — usually air, nitrogen, or natural gas — expands to fill up the space, pushing out on a diaphragm, piston actuator, or the vanes of a rotor, depending on the type of motor. This causes the motor to begin operating.

Some pneumatic motors require an additional source of power to convert the compressed gas into another energy source. These devices may rely on fuel or electricity to push the gas into the tank or cavity at high pressure. One such device is the air compressor, which is used to maintain or create the appropriate amount of air pressure within the motor.


How the energy is released will directly depend on the pneumatic device. While there are a variety of tools, vehicle components, and other gadgets that use pneumatic motors, they all may operate a little differently. A pneumatic motor may use device-specific triggers in collaboration with the valves to release energy. Hoses may be responsible for distributing the pressure, and are usually equipped with some type of safety measures.

Pneumatic motor systems are often be found in industrial settings due to their energy saving capabilities. The pneumatic motor is not, however, a new idea, as automobile gear systems and pistons operate from the concept of pressurization. The use of pneumatic motors in tools is considered a newer concept, though. Although these tools often have less power than those with electrical motors, they are often lighter and more compact, making them a popular choice.


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