It’s not every day that we hear a customer say that our products aren’t consuming ENOUGH air, but that’s exactly what happened to me yesterday. I received a call from one of our long-standing customers who was experiencing reduced air consumption with our Model # 3202 Vortex Tube. The Vortex Tube uses compressed air to create a stream of cold air and a stream of hot air, providing a temperature range from -50°F to +260°F and cooling capacity up to 10,200 Btu/hr. Also, these units have no moving parts and are virtually maintenance free, making them the ideal choice for a variety of industrial spot cooling applications.
This particular customer has been purchasing this model for several years, so they are pretty familiar with the performance and operation of the unit. They advised they were used to seeing air consumption at approximately 60 liters/minute or 2 SCFM (exactly what the Model # 3202 is designed to consume at 100 psig inlet pressure) but were starting to experience about a 50% drop to 30 liter/minute or 1 SCFM. We discussed the common troubleshooting:
- Low supply pressure? (measuring at the inlet of the Vortex Tube during operation)
- Compressed air inlet temperature? (warmer than ambient air – reducing performance)
- Reduced cold flow? (possible clog from contaminants in the compressed air supply)
- Unit seeing any back pressure? (up to 2 PSIG is acceptable, 5 PSIG will reduce approximately 5°F)
- Over-tightened Cold Cap or Cold Muffler? (is it too tight?)
The customer advised they were using a push-to-lock fitting, where they drilled out the center and then would install it in the Cold Cap of the Vortex Tube. Their operator would hold the body of the Vortex Tube, by the air inlet, then take a wrench and thread the fitting into the ¼” NPT female opening on the Cold Cap. Without realizing, the operator was also turning the Cold Cap which was causing it to become over-tightened. This in turn would reduce the consumption of the unit because it would shrink the internal air chamber.
I made the suggestion to my customer to slightly loosen the Cold Cap and see if that didn’t fix the consumption issue. They called me back about an hour later and were very pleased to advise that now the unit was “working great!”.
We want to help you maximize our products, while optimizing your compressed air system. If you have a similar performance issue or would like to discuss your application, please contact us.