The simplest form of a Roots blower has cycloidal rotors, constructed of alternating tangential sections of hypocycloidal and epicycloidal curves. For a two-lobed rotor, the smaller generating circles are one-quarter the diameter of the larger. Real Roots blowers may have more complex profiles for increase efficiency.
Because rotary lobe pumps need to maintain a clearance between the lobes, a single stage Roots blower can pump gas across only a limited pressure differential. If the pump is used outside its specification, the compression of the gas generates so much heat that the lobes expand to the point that they jam, damaging the pump.
Roots pumps are capable of pumping large volumes but as they only achieve moderate compression, it is not uncommon to see multiple Roots blower stages, frequently with heat exchangers (intercoolers) in between to cool the gas. The lack of oil on the pumping surfaces allows the pumps to work in environments where contamination control is important. The high pumping rate for hydrocarbons also allows the Roots pump to provide an effective isolation between oiled pumps, such as rotary compression pumps, and the vacuum chamber.
A variant uses claw-shaped rotors for higher compression.
The Roots-type blower may achieve an efficiency of around 70% while achieving a maximum pressure ratio of two. Because a Roots type blower pumps air in discrete pulses (unlike a screw compressor), pulsation noise and turbulence may be transmitted downstream. If not properly managed (through outlet piping geometry) or accounted for (by structural reinforcement of downstream components), the resulting pulsations can cause fluid cavitation and/or damage to components downstream of the blower.