When Do I Use a Vortex Tube?

When customers call in with a cooling application, they naturally gravitate to the Vortex Tube as their first choice of solutions. This is understandable since they are primarily known for their cooling ability.

Last week, I mentioned that cooling was a relative thing. This week, I would like to dive into a bit more about when to consider using a Vortex Tube.  The primary purpose for a Vortex Tube is to achieve some amount of temperature change within a compressed air flow. That chilled airflow can then serve any one of a number of purposes.

Usually, to consider using a Vortex Tube, the application does need to be rather small in nature, something like cooling an end mill or perhaps keeping a small enclosed space cool.  Using a Vortex Tube to cool a small room or a closet would not be considered a reasonable use.

Another reason to use a Vortex Tube would be to bring the temperature of an object down below room temperature for testing purposes or perhaps for calibration. Again, the size of the object to be cooled does have to be taken into consideration to determine whether vortex cooling is a viable option. 

People will sometimes ask whether a given Vortex Tube cooling  idea is possible and technically speaking the application probably is possible but whether it is viable from a cost standpoint is a whole other question that has to be considered.

Vortex Tubes have two attributes that make them a very attractive option for customers. They are: 1. Reliability – no moving parts = no maintenance. 2. Convenient to use and compact. Even with all the negative things that come about how expensive compressed air is to produce, there really has not been a more affordable and reliable method for spot or small enclosure cooling.

Admittedly, this article only scratches the surface  of when Vortex Tubes should be considered for an application. If you need help determining which of our cooling solutions would be the best choice for your application, feel free to send us a note or call. We would be glad to talk things through with you and determine what the best path might be.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

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