Before compressed air can be realistically utilized, it needs to be delivered to the point of use with proper volume and pressure, and it should also be clean and have some moisture removed. We have information available regarding cleaning compressed air, but how do you dry the compressed air? And why do you dry the compressed air?
Drying compressed air is akin to removing the humidity in the air when using an air conditioning system. If the moisture is not removed, the effectiveness of the system is reduced and the ability to use the output of the system is reduced as well.
But, from a functional standpoint, what does this really mean? What will take place in the compressed air system if the air is not dried and the moisture is allowed to remain?
The answer is in the simple fact that moisture is damaging. Rust, increased wear of moving parts, discoloration, process failure due to clogging, frozen control lines in cold weather, false readings from instruments and controls – ALL of these can happen due to moisture in the compressed air. It stands to reason, then, that if we want long-term operation of our compressed air products, having dry air is a must.
So, how can we remove the moisture in the compressed air? One of the most common methods to remove moisture is a regenerative dryer, specifically, heat-of-compression type dryers. A heat of compression type dryer is a regenerative desiccant dryer which uses the heat generated by the compression of the ambient air to regenerate the moisture removing capability of the desiccant used to dry the compressed air.
When using one of these dryers, the air is pulled directly from the outlet of the compressor with no cooling or treatment to the air and is fed through a desiccant bed in “Tank 1” where it regenerates the moisture removing capabilities of the desiccant inside the tank. The compressed air is then fed through a regeneration cooler, a separator, and finally another desiccant bed, this time in “Tank 2”, where the moisture is removed. The output of “Tank 2” is supplied to the facilities as clean, dry compressed air. After enough time, “tank 1” and “tank 2” switch, allowing the hot output of the compressor to regenerate the desiccant in “tank 2” while utilizing the moisture removing capabilities of the desiccant in “tank 1”.
Heat of compression dryers offer a lower power cost when compared to other dryers, but they are only applicable for use with oil free compressor and to compressors with high discharge temperatures. If output air temperatures from the compressor are too low, a temperature booster/heater is needed.
If you have questions about your compressed air system and how the end use devices are operating, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer. We’ll be happy to discuss your system and ways to optimize your current setup.
Heated Desiccant Dryer by Compressor1. Creative Commons License