Eliminating Static in Industrial Processes

Ever wonder what causes that annoying shock you get when you go to grab a plastic or metal piece. That is a phenomenon caused by static electricity. This static is an electrical surface charge that is generated and when two surfaces come in contact with each other and generate an electrical charge from friction, separation, or simple contact. If the material in question is not grounded properly the electrical charge will continue to accumulate until it comes in contact with a proper ground or the path of least resistance to discharge the built up static and return to a neutral state.

Static

Static is generated on the atomic level from the exchange of valance electrons on each surface. The energy produced from the friction, separation or contact cause those valance electrons to enter an excited state; when in this excited state they begin to jump back and forth from atom to atom. When this happens, the atoms begin to accumulate either a positive charge if the atom lost electrons or a negative charge if the atom gained electrons. As the charge accumulates on the surface were the friction occurs if a ground source (i.e. piece of metal or a person) comes in close proximity to the charged surface an arc is generated between the two surfaces returning the originally charged surface to a neutral state.

Static can be harmful to both employees and product in an industrial environment. If a static arc is generated in the presence of either flammable, combustible, or explosive liquids or gasses the arc can cause an ignition of the material. Static can also cause the charged object to stick or cling to various surfaces causing clogs in pipes and issues when trying to separate the material one at a time. This phenomenon is called static cling.

Even though static is very easy to generate it can just as easily be dissipated; EXAIR’s line of static eliminating devices use a high voltage emitter point to generate a small zone of ions which consists of both positive and negative charges to dissipate the static build up on the surface. Also, when the various emitter points and ion bars are coupled with our compressed air products, the air carries the ions much farther and can dissipate static up to 20’ away. The best part is that about the line of our line of static eliminators is that they are shockless; this means that if somebody bumps into it, they won’t get shocked.

Gen 4 Super Ion Air Knife Eliminating Static with Ions

For more information on EXAIR’s Static Eliminators 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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The Perseverance to Help Out

A couple of years ago I got to spend some time with my dad rock climbing in the North Cascades in Washington. My eyes were set on a very easy 5.9 big wall multi-pitch route called Prime Rib of Goat on the Goat Wall in Mazama. The route that we climbed was 1300ft of vertical cliff and one of the most popular beginner routes for getting into large climbs. Both my dad and I are knowledgeable when comes to climbing and were looking for a nice relaxing day on the wall. This is how that relaxing day turned into a crazy rescue…

The trip started out as any normal climbing trip would, an early 6 am flight as we had to get all of our climbing gear through airport security. Once the plane landed, we picked up our rental car and the gorgeous 3.5 hr drive up I-5 along the bay and straight on through the North Cascade National Park. Mazama is a small town with a population of only 158 people located on the East side the Cascades. Once we reached our destination and set up camp, we decided to do a little warm up on the wall to try and beat the stiffness and fatigue from a full day of travel.

Pitch 7 of the Prime Rib of Goat on the Goat Wall

The next morning, we woke up a little on the late side (around 7:30 am) got a light breakfast and set out for our goal the Goat Wall. The wall was a short 3 miles outside of town with a not so easy 1-mile hike in 95°F temperatures up a Scree field (basically hill of loose rock at the base of a mountain). Once we reached the base, we loaded up our gear onto our harnesses and started climbing to the first set of anchors (this is what is known as a pitch in climbing terms). Pitches 1 – 6 were fairly straight forward and easy going, water was rationed to ensure that we wouldn’t get dehydrated but at the same time wouldn’t run out of water.

By around 4:00 pm we had reached the halfway point at the top of pitch 6; this is where we ran into two people who were also climbing the same route as us but moving at a much slower pace. Luckily the were two trees that were growing on the cliff so we decided to take a small lunch break in the shade. Around a half hour later I shouted up the cliff to see if the two people had moved on yet; when I heard nothing we started climbing pitch 7. To my surprise the group ahead of us were still sitting at the top of pitch 7.

Pitch 7 of the Prime Rib of Goat on the Goat Wall

Turns out that the group had a 40 pound pack with them which was unusual for the single day climb on an easy route that could be easily terminated if needed. After another 10 mins of waiting we decided help them haul this pack of theirs up the wall. It was slow moving up to Pitch 8 and they had run out of water and our water was running low. By the time we had finally reached pitch 9 with all the people things had started to get worse for the group that we were assisting; fatigue and dehydration had brought them to the point of a mental break down.

At this point my dad and I decided to share the last bit of water we had with them and to turn around and bail on the last 3 pitches. It was a slow process moving back down the way we had come and try to keep the group calm; the sun and heat was really starting to take a toll on our bodies. Our lips were cracked and blistered and our mouths had quit producing saliva but we kept trudging on. A relief from the heat came around the time when the sun had set around the top of pitch 4 and from that time onward, we were descending down the cliff face into what seemed like a black abyss.

Finally, we were able to set foot on the ground and low and behold the friends of the group we helped had hiked to the base looking for their friends and they brought water we could all drink. We didn’t get back to the campsite until 1:00 am. The next day my dad and I decided to pack up and head to the coast because we were done climbing.

Here at EXAIR we like to bring that same kind of enthusiasm and perseverance to help you solve your compressed air issues. We will walk you step by step in getting you either the right part or solving any of your technical issues and won’t leave you high and dry.

If you want to talk about any of the 16 different EXAIR 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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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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How to Calculate the Cost of Leaks

Leaks are a hidden nuisance in a compressed air system that can cause thousands of dollars in electricity per year. These leaks on average can account for up to 30% of the operation cost of a compressed air system. A leak will usually occur at connection joints, unions, valves, and fittings. This not only is a huge waste of energy but it can also cause a system to lose pressure along with lowering the life span of the compressor since it will have to run more often to make up for the loss of air from the leak.

There are two common ways to calculate how much compressed air a system is losing due to leaks. The first way is to turn off all of the point of use compressed air devices; once this has been complete turn on the air compressor and record the average time that it takes the compressor to cycle on and off. With the average cycle time you can calculate out the total percentage of leakage using the following formula.

The second method is to calculate out the percentage lost using a pressure gauge downstream from a receiver tank. This method requires one to know the total volume in the system to accurately estimate the leakage from the system. Once the compressor turns on wait until the system reaches the normal operating pressure for the process and record how long it takes to drop to a lower operating pressure of your choosing. Once this has been completed you can use the following formula to calculate out the total percentage of leakage.

The total percentage of the compressor that is lost should be under 10% if the system is properly maintained.

Once the total percentage of leakage has been calculated you can start to look at the cost of a single leak assuming that the leak is equivalent to a 1/16” diameter hole. This means that at 80 psig the leak is going to expel 3.8 SCFM. The average industrial air compressor can produce 4 SCFM using 1 horsepower of energy. Adding in the average energy cost of $0.25 per 1000 SCF generated one can calculate out the price per hour the leak is costing using the following calculation.

If you base the cost per year for a typical 8000 hr. of operating time per year you are looking at $480 per year for one 1/16” hole leak. As you can see the more leaks in the system the more costly it gets. If you know how much SCFM your system is consuming in leaks then that value can be plugged into the equitation instead of the assumed 3.8 SCFM.

If you’d like to discuss how EXAIR products can help identify and locate costly leaks in your compressed air system, please contact one of our application engineers at 800-903-9247.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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How it Works: Theory Behind the Vortex Tube

What is a vortex tube and how does it work? A vortex tube is a device used to separate compressed air into a cold and hot stream of air; but the main question that many people have theorized is how does this device work.

In 1928 George Ranque, a French physics student stumbled upon this phenomenon on accident while he was performing experiments on a vortex type pump. During the experiment George noticed that hot air was being exhausted from one side and the other side was producing cold air. Eventually the device was forgotten about until 1945 when the German physicist, Rudolph Hilsch published a paper describing the device, eventually causing it to gain popularity and find applications in the industrial world.

EXAIR’s Vortex Tube uses compressed air as the supply and contains no moving parts to create a cold and hot stream of air from either end of the device. Using the valve located on the hot stream the vortex tube can achieve temperatures as low as -50°F (-46°C) and temperatures as high as 260°F (127°C).

The diagram bellow is one of the widely accepted explanations for the vortex tube phenomenon.

When the vortex tube is supplied with compressed air the air flow is directed into the generator that causes spin into a spiraling vortex at around 1,000,000 rpm. This spinning vortex flows down the neck of the hot tube denoted in the diagram as red. The control valve located on the end of the hot tube allows a fraction of the hot air to escape and what does not escape reverses direction and travels back down the tube in a second vortex denoted in blue. Inside of the low-pressure area of the larger outer warm air vortex, the inner vortex loses heat as it flows back to the front of the vortex and as it exits the vortex expels cold air.

The phenomenon is theorized to occur because both the hot and cold streams rotate at the same velocity and direction. This means that a particle of air in the inner vortex makes a complete revolution in the same time that a particle in the outer vortex takes to make a complete revolution. This effect is known as the principle of conservation of momentum and is the main driving force behind the vortex tube. In order for the system to stay in equilibrium air particles lose energy, in the form of heat, as they move from the outer stream to the inner stream, creating the cold air vortex that gets expelled.

At EXAIR we have harnessed many uses of vortex tubes for your cooling needs. Both our Cabinet Coolers and our Adjustable Spot Coolers utilize the vortex tube to either cool down an overheated cabinet or provide spot cooling for many different applications including to replace a messy coolant system for small grinding and machining applications.              

If you have questions about Vortex Tubes, or would like to talk about any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, 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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Six Steps to Optimizing Compressed Air: Step 4, Turn it Off When Not in Use

Step 4 of the Six Steps to Optimizing your compressed air is to turn off your compressed air when it is not in use. This step can be done using two simple methods either by using manual controls such as ball valves or automated controllers such as solenoid valves. Manual controls are designed for long use and when switching on and off are infrequent. Ball Valves are one of the most commonly used manual shut offs for compressed air and other fluids.

Automated controllers allow your air flow to be tied into a system or process and turn on or off when conditions have been met. Solenoid valves are the most commonly used automated control device as they operate by using an electric current to open and close the valve mechanism within. Solenoid valves are some of the more versatile flow control devices due to the fact that they open and close almost instantaneously. Solenoid valves can be used as manual controls as well by wiring them to a switch or using simple programming on a PLC to turn the valve on or off using a button.

EXAIR’s Solenoid Valves
EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller (EFC)

 

Some good examples of automated controllers are EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller (a.k.a. EFC) and EXAIR’s Thermostat controlled Cabinet Coolers.  

The EFC system uses a photo eye to detect when an object is coming down the line and will turn on the air for a set amount of time of the users choosing. This can be used to control the airflow for all of EXAIR’s products. EXAIR’s Thermostat controlled Cabinet Coolers are used to control the internal temperature of a control cabinet or other enclosures. This is done by detecting the internal temperature of your cabinet and when it has exceeded a temperature which could damage electrical components it will open the valve until a safe temperature has been reached, then turn off.    

By turning off your compressed air, whether it be with manual or automated controllers, a company can minimize wasted compressed air and extend the longevity of the air compressor that is used to supply the plants air. The longevity of the air compressor is increased due to reduced run time since it does not need to keep up with the constant use of compressed air. Other benefits include less use of compressed air and recouped cost of compressed air. 

EXAIR’s Ball Valves sizes 1/4″ NPT to 1-1/4″ NPT

If you have questions about our compressed air control valves or any of the 16 different EXAIR 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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Leaks and Their Impact on Your Compressed Air System

Leaks are one of the major wastes of compressed air that could happen in a system. But what affect can leaks have on your system and how can these leaks be found? Total leaks in a compressed air line can account for wasting almost 20-30% of a compressors output. These leaks can commonly be found in areas were a pipe comes in contact with a joint, connections to devices that use the compressed air, and storage tanks.

There are four main affects that a leak in your compressed air system can have and they are as follows; 1) cause in pressure drop across the system, 2) shorten the life of almost all supply system equipment, 3) increased running time of the compressor, and 4) unnecessary compressor capacity.

  • A pressure drop across your compressed air system can lead to a decreased in efficiency of the end use equipment (i.e. an EXAIR Air Knife or Air Nozzle). This adversely effects production as it may take longer to blow off or cool a product or not blow off the product well enough to meet quality standards.
  • Leaks can shorten the life of almost all supply system components such as air compressors, this is because the compressor has to continuously run to make up for the air loss from the leak. By forcing the equipment to continuously run or cycle more frequently means that the moving parts in the compressor will wear down faster.
  • An increased run time due to leaks can also lead to more maintenance on supply equipment for the same reasons as to why the life of the compressor is shortened. The increase stress on the compressor due to unnecessary running of the compressor.
  • Leaks can also lead to adding unnecessary compressor size. The wasted air that is being expelled from the leak is an additional demand in your system. If leaks are not fixed it may require a larger compressor to make up for the loss of air in your system.
EXAIR’s Ultrasonic Leak Detector

All of these effects are an additional cost that is tacked onto the already existing utility cost of your compressed air. But luckily there are ways to find these leaks and patch them up before it can get to out of control. One of the ways to help find leaks in your system is the EXAIR’s affordable Ultrasonic Leak Detector. This leak detector uses ultrasonic waves to detect were costly leaks can be found so that they can be patched or fixed.

If you have questions about a Leak Prevention Program or any of the 16 different EXAIR 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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