Every Once in a Blue Moon

I’m sure you have all heard the expression, “Every once in a blue moon”. This was the expression I used when customers would ask about using Vortex Tubes for heating applications. While Vortex Tubes can be used for heating, their propensity for cooling applications tends to be the more common use. The main reason is that the majority of the airflow tends to come out on the cold side, for most applications. When you adjust the Vortex Tube to allow more hot end flow, the nature of how the tube works causes the hot end flow temperature to not be as hot as it is at lower hot end flow settings. We refer to this as the Cold Fraction Setting.

So why do I bring this up?  I have worked with a couple of people  recently that were interested in the hot end flow from a Vortex Tube. I’ll explain each briefly below.

First application involves the use of a Vortex Tube hot flow as the source of heat for a special box used in cold locations such as ships and oil drilling platforms in northern climates. This special box can accept buckets of material such as paint, oil or other bulk materials used in these areas. The heater box keeps the materials warm and flowable so they can be used as needed.

Second application involves purging a special flange used for monitoring exhaust stack gases. A laser is used to view through the inspection port and the hot air from the Vortex Tube keeps the lens from fogging up so the laser can get a clear view through the stack for accurate readings.

The majority of Vortex Tube applications will probably remain on the cooling side of things, however, I wanted to share these couple of applications with you to give your imagination a jog in case you may have something similar and may be stumped about how to figure out how to get things heated up.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer

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