Static Electricity: What Is It And The Products To Solve Industrial Process Problems

The lower relative humidity associated with the cold, dry air of winter results in a significant increase in customers  with problems related to static. Luckily, EXAIR has a wide-range of Static Eliminators that are designed specifically to address static issues in a wide variety of industries. So, what exactly is static and how is it generated? Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to elementary school science class….

An atom consists of three basic particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. The protons (positively charged) and neutrons (neutral charge) form the nucleus. Outside of the nucleus, electrons (negatively charged) are quickly zipping around in orbits at specific distances from the nucleus. These electrons are bound to the nucleus due to electromagnetic force. Opposite charges attract. Since the protons in the nucleus carry a positive charge this acts on the negative charge of the electrons and keeps them in orbit. The closer the electron to the nucleus, the stronger the bond and the more energy required to break that electron from its original orbit.

When an atom gains or loses an electron, it affects the balance that occurs within an atom. If an atom gains an electron, it now has more electrons than protons. This results in a negatively charged atom. The opposite can be said if an atom loses an electron, it now carries a positive charge. This charge imbalance is where static electricity comes from. Both positive and negative charges will remain static until contacted by or in close proximity to a conductive or grounded surface. Materials such as paper, plastic, or textiles will normally contain an equal number of both positive and negative ions. When subjected to friction, this balance can be disturbed if the atoms gain or lose an electron.

The static charge will then exert a force on nearby charged objects or grounded conductors (including personnel). These issues can also manifest in the form of dust clinging to product, product clinging to itself, rollers, machine beds or frames, materials jamming, and sheet feeding problems.

To eliminate these charges, EXAIR’s Static Eliminators produce an equal amount of both positive and negatively charged ions. This allows us to neutralize either charge quickly and effectively.

For applications that allow you to install close (generally within 2”) to the surface of the material, we offer our Ionizing Bar in lengths ranging from 3”-108”. If a wide area of coverage is necessary, but you can’t get close to it, the same Ionizing Bar is installed on the Super Ion Air Knife to help deliver those ions over a greater distance.

gen4 super ion air knife
Gen4 SIAK

The Ionizing Point is another product that can be used without the need for compressed air. A compact, single point ionizer, this product is ideal for winding, rewinding or slitting operations. It can also be mounted through a duct to neutralize static charges due to moving air or materials.

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Gen4 Ionizing Point

The Ion Air Gun combines incredibly fast static decay rates with low compressed air consumption. With a 10’ flexible armored cable and ergonomic handle, the Ion Air Gun is best for applications where an operator will perform the blowoff process.

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If the airflow pattern from the Ion Air Gun is conducive to your application, but you’d prefer to automate the blowoff or maintain a continuous usage, both the Ion Air Jet and the Stay Set Ion Air Jet provide an identical airflow pattern. The Stay Set Ion Air Jet comes with a magnetic base and Stay Set Hose, allowing you to precisely position the static eliminating ions in your process.

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The Ion Air Cannon delivers a quit, efficient, and concentrated flow of ionized air. It is ideal for hard to reach spaces or confined areas that necessitate a solution to static problems. Designed with a sturdy stand, the pre-drilled holes can be wall, bench, or machine mounted. It incorporates a swivel adjustment for directing the airflow.

Our Gen4 Static Eliminators have all undergone independent laboratory tests to certify that they meet the rigorous safety, health, and environmental standards of the USA, European Union and Canada that are required to attain the CE and UL marks. If there’s a process in your facility that could benefit from a solution to static problems, please give us a call. Any of our Application Engineers will be happy to help select the best option for your process.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95: Hearing Protection in the Workplace

One of the most common and dangerous hazards that occur within a manufacturing and production facility is the noise level within the plant. Noise is measured in units known as decibels. Decibels are a ratio of the power level of the sound compared to a logarithmic scale. If an employee is an exposed for too long to high levels of noise, they can begin to lose their hearing. That is where the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 regulation comes into play.

Hearing loss is the best known, but not the only, ill effect of harmful noise exposure. It can also cause physical and psychological stress, impair concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents or injuries.

This OSHA standard doesn’t just provide the protection against noise in the work place but monitoring as well. Companies shall provide at no cost audiometric tests for all employees to ensure that no damage is being to the hearing of all personnel. This program is to be repeated every six months and the results are to be made accessible to all personnel.                

Hearing is very important to our everyday lives and must be protected due to the fact that once it is damaged hearing loss cannot be lost be repaired. The OHSA 29 CFR 1910.95 is there to protect and monitor this dangerous hazard in the workplace so that all employees can go home safe and sound.

Here at EXAIR we design all of our products to safe and quite. Weather it is using one of our mufflers for vortex tubes or E-vac’s or one of our super air nozzles we strive to meet and exceed the OSHA standard. One could also purchase EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter which can give a accurate and responsive reading of how loud your compressed air sources are.

For more information on EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter and any of EXAIR‘s Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Super Air Knives Are Ideal For Super Aggressive Environments

Hydrochloric Acid. Sodium Hydroxide. Nitric Acid. Hydrogen Peroxide. Whether you know it or not, these are all commonly used around the house as tile/grout cleaners, drain openers, lawn fertilizers, and disinfectant for cut & scrapes, respectively.

They’re also used in a variety of industrial applications, such as the making of plastics, glass, pharmaceuticals, and wastewater treatment, respectively…all of which also have applications for which EXAIR Corporation’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products provide safe, efficient, and quiet solutions for.

Stainless Steel Super Air Knife Kits include the Air Knife itself, a Shim Set, an Automatic Drain Filter Separator, and a Pressure Regulator. The Air Knife & Shim Set are all Stainless Steel (grade 303 or 316, depending on which is specified) construction.

Consider the Super Air Knife: If you need one that’ll stand up to contact with hydrochloric acid, you’re looking for PVDF construction. Nitric acid is a different story – our 303SS, 316SS construction Super Air Knives are well suited for those applications.

On the other end of the (pH) spectrum, any of those materials are suitable for exposure to Sodium Hydroxide. PVDF is still the best choice, as the Stainless Steels will be subject to discoloration or slight corrosion, depending on the concentration.

PVDF Super Air Knife Kits include the Air Knife itself (PVDF body, Hastelloy C-276 hardware, and PTFE Shims,) a PTFE Shim Set, an Automatic Drain Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator.

Acids and bases aside, oxidizers are also very corrosive, especially in higher concentrations.  Hydrogen peroxide is a commonly used oxidizer in industries as diverse as pulp & paper, soap & detergent, and water sterilization.  Like other chemicals, compatibility depends on the concentration, but like nitric acid & sodium hydroxide, our PVDF Super Air Knives are still the best, but the Stainless Steel models are still acceptable.

These are just a few, very basic, examples of chemical compatibility.  If you have an application that calls for installing one of our compressed air products in an area where you’re concerned about corrosion, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Max Refrigeration vs. Max Cold Temp Vortex Tubes

Here at EXAIR, our vortex tubes are offered in two separate series. The reason for this is to optimize the performance of the cold air temperature drop when operating with opposite ends of the cold fraction chart. The maximum refrigeration vortex tubes, 32xx series, perform optimally when they are set to a greater than 50% cold fraction.  The maximum cold temp vortex tubes, 34xx series, perform optimally when they are set to a less than or equal to 50% cold fraction. The cold fraction is discussed more in-depth within this link from Russ Bowman, Vortex Tube Cold Fractions Explained. This blog is going to explain a little further why one series of vortex tubes would be chosen for an application over another.

Cold Fraction
EXAIR Vortex Tube Performance Chart

Maximum refrigeration (32xx) vortex tubes are the most commonly discussed of the two types when discussing the optimal selection of the vortex tube for an application. The 32xx series vortex tubes achieve a maximum refrigeration output when operated at 100 psig inlet pressure with around  80% cold fraction. This would give a temperature drop from incoming compressed air temperature of 54°F (30°C). The volumetric flow rate of cold air will be 80% of the input flow which means only 20% is being exhausted as warm exhaust air. By keeping the flow rate higher the air is able to cool a higher heat load and is the reason the vortex tube is given a BTU/hr cooling capacity.

Vortex Tube Hot Valve Adjustment

Maximum cold temperature (34xx) tubes are less common as their applications are a little more niche and require a very pinpoint application. Rather than changing the temperature inside of a cooling tunnel or cooling an ultrasonic welding horn, the max cold temp vortex tube is going to have a minimum cold flow rate, less than 50% of input volumetric flow.  This minimal flow will be at temperature drops up to 129°F (71.1°C) from the incoming compressed air temperature.  This air is very cold and at a low flow. A 20% cold fraction exhausts 80% of the input volume as hot air. This type of volume would be ideal for sensor cooling, pinpoint cooling of a slow-moving operation, or thermal testing of small parts.

In the end, EXAIR vortex tubes perform their task of providing cold or hot air without using any refrigerants or moving parts. To learn more about how they work, check out this blog from Russ Bowman. If you want to see how to change the cold fraction, check out the video below. If you would like to discuss anything compressed air related, contact an application engineer, we are always here to help.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

The Impact of Cold Temperatures and Lower Humidity on Static Electricity

This time of the year it is not uncommon to feel a slight shock after walking across a carpeted surface and touching a door knob. This little “jolt” is a result of fast-moving electrons leaping from your body to the door knob, or vice versa. As your feet shuffle across the surface of a rug or carpet, your body will either gain or lose electrons. Touching a conductive surface then causes these electrons to leap from one place to another. This is known as static electricity.

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If you notice, this happens to occur much more often during colder winter months (if you’re one of those fortunate people to live outside of this sensation we call “cold” please don’t rub it in!). The reason that you experience static shocks more frequently during winter is due to the relative humidity. At colder temperatures, air does not hold as much moisture as it does when it’s warm and moisture helps to conduct electrical charges. Even though you’re heating your house to a similar temperature, the air that is being drawn into your home and heated is still the dry cold air containing less moisture.

The amount of moisture in the air is expressed as relative humidity. This value is given as a percentage of water vapor in the air, compared to how much it could hold at that temperature. In conditions of lower relative humidity, static charges build up much easier. When the relative humidity is high, there’s a higher concentration of water molecules present in the air. These water molecules “coat” the surface of the material, allowing electrons to move more freely and form a layer over the material. This layer of water molecules acts like a lubricant, reducing the forces that cause static to generate. This is why static is much more noticeable during the winter months.

Gen4 Static
Gen4 Static Eliminators

There are many applications that static only appears when the seasonal climate changes. Issues can manifest in the form of nuisance shocks to operators, materials jamming, tearing or curling, product sticking to itself and to rollers, dust clinging to product, and many more. If static is causing problems in your processes, we have a wide variety of Static Eliminators available from stock. Don’t just deal with the problems until humid conditions return, get a permanent solution in place that’ll neutralize the static and eliminate a troublesome application. Contact an EXAIR Application Engineer today and we’ll help to diagnose the root cause of the problem and recommend the best solution.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

 

Photo courtesy of Ken Bosma via Flickr Creative Commons License

Video Blog: Compressed Air Sensor/Solenoid Control for Maximum Efficiency

The Electronic Flow Control, or EFC, is an EXAIR Optimization product to reduce air consumption in your facility.  Saving this electricity that is used to make compressed air will save you money and will help you to “Go Green”.  The EFC has 8 different modes that uses a timing sequence with a Photoelectric Sensor to turn on/off a solenoid valve.  In this video, I will go through each mode to demonstrate how the Electronic Flow Control will perform.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Adjustable Spot Cooler Removes Tackiness from Plastic Tubes

Black PVC Tube

A manufacturing plant contacted EXAIR to help them with a “sticky” situation.  This company extruded PVC tubes that would be used as fuel lines on small engines.  Plasticizers are typically used to add flexibility to plastic materials.  For the PVC material above, a plasticizer was added to make it softer and more elastic.  The issue that they saw was the outer surface of the tubes were tacky from the plasticizer and heat which made it difficult to handle in packaging the tubes.

This company extruded many different diameters, but they wanted to target their most difficult size, the smallest tube.  The dimensions were given as 0.187″ (4.7mm) O.D. by .0934″ (2.4mm) I.D., and the feed rate was close to 4 feet/min (1.2 meter/min).  The problem area that they explained was at the end of the production line where the extruded tubes were cut by a blade cutter into 12” (305mm) lengths.  The tubes would then fall into a collection bin for batch processing.  Since the collection bin was setup at a slight upward angle, they wanted the tubes to gather toward one end of the bin.  Since the tubes were still hot and sticking to each other, the operators had to individually handle each tube which was counterproductive and time-consuming.  After our discussions, I suggested that cold air could harden the PVC tube enough by removing heat and help to “set”  the platicizer.  Since they manufactured different sizes and feed rates, we needed to have adjustability as well in our cold air device.

How the Adjustable Spot Cooler Works

One of our most versatile spot cooling instruments is the EXAIR Adjustable Spot Cooler.  This system uses the Vortex Tube technology to convert compressed air into a cold air stream without any moving parts, refrigerants, or motors.  The Adjustable Spot Cooler is a low-cost, reliable, maintenance-free way to give spot cooling for a myriad of industrial applications.  For this customer, this product gave them the versatility that they were needing.

EXAIR stocks these units with either a single or dual point hose kit, a magnetic base, a filter separator, and two additional generators.  The control valve at the end of the unit adjusts the output temperature down to -30 oF (-34 oC) with a turn of a knob.  The generators are specifically engineered to control the amount of compressed air that is used.  Both types of controls will allow this customer to “dial in” the correct cooling capacity for the operation.  The filter separator included with the system will clean the compressed air to keep the unit and the product free of dirt and debris.  The magnetic base which this customer really liked makes the Adjustable Spot Cooler portable for use in different areas.

3925 Adjustable Spot Cooler

I recommended the model 3925 Adjustable Spot Cooler because it had the dual point hose kit to blow cold air on both sides of the tubes.  Since this company had different tube diameters and thicknesses, adjustability was very critical.  If the tubes got too cold, cracks could occur from the blade cutting machine; and, if the tubes were too warm, the tackiness on the surface of the tube would remain.   Once they installed the Adjustable Spot Cooler, this company was able to increase their packaging line for the different size PVC tubes.  Now the operators could reach into the collection bin and grab many aligned tubes instead of individually separating and sorting.

If you have a “sticky” situation, the EXAIR Adjustable Spot Cooler may be a product for you.  The company above was able to have their tubes slide together in the collection bin.  Many applications could be improved by adding cold air.  And, if you have a similar situation, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to discuss a solution.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Photo: Black tube by NIMR LondonCC License 2.0