About Vortex Tubes

Vortex tube
Cooling or Heating with the Vortex Tube

If I were to tell you that I can take a supply of ordinary compressed air and drop it’s temperature by 50°F without any type of refrigerant or electrical connection, you might be scratching your head a bit. That is of course unless you’ve been introduced to the wild world of Vortex Tubes. My favorite product among the EXAIR Product Line, the Vortex Tube does just that. With an ordinary supply of compressed air as the sole power source, and no moving parts, the Vortex Tube converts that airstream into a hot and cold flow that exit from opposite ends of the tube. No magic, witchcraft, or wizardry involved here. Just physics!

EXAIR’s Vortex Tubes are a low-cost, reliable, and maintenance-free solution to a variety of industrial spot cooling problems. With just an ordinary supply of compressed air, the Vortex Tube produces two streams of air: one hot and one cold. The Vortex Tube is capable of achieving a temperature drop/rise from your compressed air supply ranging from -50°F to +260°F (-46°C to +127°C). Flow rates range from 1-150 SCFM (28-4,248 SLPM) and cooling capacities of up to 10,200 Btu/hr. With all Vortex Tubes constructed of stainless steel, they’re resistant to corrosion and oxidation ensuring you years of reliable, maintenance-free operation.

VT_Flow

Two primary different styles of Vortex Tubes are offered: maximum refrigeration and maximum cold temperature. Tubes for maximum refrigeration have an “R” type generator installed. These tubes are optimal for most industrial applications. Model numbers containing 32XX all have an “R” generator installed. For “cryogenic” type applications such as cooling lab samples or circuit testing, the maximum cold temperature tubes are recommended. These tubes have a “C” type generator installed. Model numbers beginning with 34XX all are designed for maximum cold temperatures. The difference between the two is in the volume of air at the cold end. While the 34XX tubes deliver a colder temperature, there is much less volume of cold air.

All Vortex Tubes are adjustable. At the hot air exhaust side of the tube is an adjustable valve that controls the amount of air permitted to escape from the tube. The more air that exhausts from the hot end, the colder the temperature drop at the cold end. But, as more air escapes there’s less overall volume. Finding that balance between cold temperature and cold airflow volume is key to a successful application.

As we all know, if there’s a knob to turn, button to press, or adjustment that can be made an operator is inevitably going to tinker with it. Day shift will blame the night shift, night shift blames the day shift, and it can present a problem when the Vortex Tube has been specifically tested and set to achieve the desired cold fraction. If you know the cold fraction you need, but would prefer to prevent it from being able to be adjusted, EXAIR can install a precisely drilled hot plug to set the cold fraction percentage to your specifications and eliminate any potential for it to be changed.

Vortex family

If you’d still prefer to keep the adjustability, but don’t have the capabilities to measure and set it yourself, we can also set any Vortex Tube to the desired cold fraction with the adjustable valve and send it to you ready to be installed. We’ll provide you with a special model number so you can rest assured that any time you need another it’ll come set to your specification.

If you have an application in your facility that you believe is a nice fit for a Vortex Tube, give us a call. Our team of Application Engineers is standing by ready to help you determine the best solution for your application.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Compressed Air Filters: What They Are, And Why They Matter

The first time I ever bought a brand new car was in 1995…it was a Ford Escort Wagon. My plan was to pay it off quick and run the tires off it. Well, I DID actually put new tires on it several times over the 11 years and 200,000 miles I had it. But, aside from fuel & tires, that car cost me less than $2,000 in repairs over all that time…an achievement that my mechanic said was due largely to the aforementioned planned maintenance, which largely consisted of regular oil changes, which, of course, included a new oil filter, every 3,000 miles. For the record, I didn’t run the wheels off it; I sold it when I took a job that included a company vehicle. Also for the record, I found out the fellow I sold my car to was still driving it after I left that job (and company vehicle.) He, too, believed in regular oil changes, and he might still have that 1995 Escort on the road for all I know.

So, yeah, I’m a big believer in the importance of fluid filtration.  If you’re a regular reader of the EXAIR Blog page, you likely are too.  The two main culprits that cause the most problems in a compressed air system are solid particulates and water.  These are easily addressed with a Filter Separator, like EXAIR Model 9004 Automatic Drain Filter Separator.  It has a 5 micron particulate element, and a centrifugal element that imparts a spinning motion to the air flow.  Since water is denser than air, any droplets of moisture are “flung” to the inside wall of the bowl, while the moisture-free air continues on through the discharge.

 

The particulate element captures solids larger than 5 microns, and the centrifugal element eliminates moisture.

Another common impurity in compressed air is oil.  Since oil-less compressors came along, this is easy to eliminate at the source…literally.  However, for other types of compressors (piston types in particular,) as they age, the oil that lubricates the moving parts can seep by the piston rings and get to the air side.  Oil doesn’t carry the same wear and corrosion problems that dirt & water do, but it causes particular problems in air conveyance and blow off applications: anything in your air is going to get on your product.  Ask any paint booth operator, for example, what happens when a metal surface hasn’t been cleaned of all traces of oil.  It really does look a “fish eye.”

The most common type of oil removal filter uses a coalescing element.  Oil entrained in pressurized gas flow isn’t as dense as water – so centrifugal elements won’t remove it – and it tends to act like particulate…but very fine particulate – so typical sintered particulate elements won’t remove it.  Coalescing elements, however, are made of a tight fiber mesh.  This not only catches any trace of oil in the air flow, but also much finer particulate than those sintered elements.  EXAIR Oil Removal Filters, like the Model 9027 shown below, provide additional particulate filtration to 0.03 microns.  That’s some pretty clean air.

The coalescing element of an Oil Removal Filter catches oil and very fine particulate.

For best results, we recommend both the Filter Separator and Oil Removal Filter.  Make sure you install the Filter Separator upstream of the Oil Removal Filter…that way, its 5 micron element catches all the “big” particles that would quickly clog the very fine coalescing element, necessitating an element replacement.  In fact, this arrangement will allow the Oil Removal Filter to operate darn near indefinitely, maintenance free.

If you have questions about keeping your compressed air clean, moisture free, and oil free, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Clean Your Machine Coolant with the EXAIR Chip Trapper

Do you spend too much time cleaning out your CNC machine?  Do you find that It is messy and backbreaking work?  Do you spend too much money replacing the coolant in your system?  If you answered yes to any of these, EXAIR has a product for you; the Chip Trapper System.

EXAIR's new Chip Trapper
EXAIR’s Chip Trapper

EXAIR created this product to reduce the down time and extend the life of your coolant.  This device will save you money and time with productivity, coolant, and repairs.  In this blog, I will go over some of the features and benefits with the Chip Trapper Systems.

EXAIR offers two types, the Chip Trapper and the High Lift Chip Trapper.  They are designed to move fluid into the drum to be filtered, and to allow the clean fluid to be placed back into the sump.  The Chip Trapper works great for quick coolant cleaning at the floor level.  The High Lift Chip Trapper is ideal for cleaning viscous fluids as well as for reservoirs below the floor level.

Both types use a pneumatic two-way pump to move the fluid.  They come in three different drum sizes, 30 Gallon, 55 Gallon, and 110 Gallon. So, you can clean large sump tanks with only one cycle through the cleaning system.  They come standard with a 5-micron bag filter that can hold over 5 gallons of material.

Chip Trapper Family
30, 55, 110 Gallon Chip Trapper!

EXAIR can also offer filter bags in 5 other micron ranges from 1 micron up to 200 micron.  And if you are not sure on the other filtration ranges, EXAIR offers a filter sample pack, model 901060-SP, that includes one of each type.

Take a look at this customer Video as they use the Chip Trapper to do their yearly deep clean and coolant Swap on their CNC Mill! (The Chip Trapper is used starting at the 3:17 mark in the video). This is also a very good video for further education on coolants and equipment. 

When your machine is not operating, your productivity is lost.  The EXAIR Chip Trapper Systems can be that product for you to get you back up and running is a short period of time, extend your coolant life, and keep the area clean and safe.  

For U.S. and Canadian customers, EXAIR offers a 30-day unconditional guarantee to try.

If you want to learn more about the EXAIR Industrial Housekeeping Products, you can contact an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to help you.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Super Air Wipe Replaces Homemade Block-Style Wipe and Saves Air, Reduces Noise

I recently had the pleasure of working with a customer who needed a more efficient and effective solution for drying prestressed concrete (PC) steel wire strands after coating with a rust inhibitor. They were using a homemade device in the current process. The homemade block consisted of two separate pieces to permit them to open it up and thread a new strand in without having to feed all the way through the device. Maintaining this ability was critical to them in their process. Fortunately, EXAIR’s Super Air Wipe utilizes a split design that easily unlatches to accommodate their request.

sawapp3
Simply open the two halves, and clamp them around your product…no threading!

The current solution was using far too much compressed air and causing pressure drops for their other processes. A review of their complete compressed air system identified these devices to be the highest consuming products that they had in the facility. The diameter of the strands ranged anywhere from 7mm-12mm, making our 1” ID Super Air Wipe an ideal fit for each size.

air wiper for pc strand

After implementation of the Model 2401 Super Air Wipe, low pressure alarms in their other processes had stopped and they were able to operate without any further issues. In addition to removing the periodic shutdowns, the sound level from the Super Air Wipe was significantly less than the homemade device, likely due to all of that unnecessary air!! While this wasn’t even a factor they’d considered, the operators are now able to operate without the need for hearing protection as the sound level had been reduced to 80 dBA, well within the safe standard for maximum allowable noise exposure as outlined by OSHA 1910.95(a). With the Super Air Wipe in place, they were able to save on compressed air, increase productivity due to the elimination of low-pressure alarms, and were able to improve the safety of the process for their operators. Not bad for a day’s work!

The Super Air Wipe provides a uniform 360° laminar airflow for blowing off, drying, cleaning, and cooling a wide variety of pipe, cable, extruded shapes, hose, and wire. Its split design allows it to be easily clamped around the surface of the material without having to “feed” the material through. If you’re processing any type of hose, wire, or extruded shapes that could benefit from installing a Super Air Wipe give us a call. With all sizes shipping from stock on an order received by 3:00 pm EDT we can have one to you as early as tomorrow!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD