Celebrate Earth Day 2018!

Earth Day is one of those days not everyone is aware happens, even with all of the news and notable facts about our resources and pollution. EXAIR is committed to raising awareness of Earth Day and encourages everyone to find an activity which produces action in the spirit of Earth Day. For example, could you help clean up a riverbank in your town, or plant some trees in a park, or recycle your household plastic/glass/aluminum/cardboard? The Earth Day website has a bunch of great suggestions for you to make a difference.

Volunteers help cleanup

At my home, we recycle our glass, metal, plastic and cardboard. At EXAIR we continue to make progress in reducing our overall footprint as well.

Sunday, April 22nd marks the 48th annual Earth Day and it will be observed in 192 countries. For EXAIR, this year marks our 35th year helping compressed air users save compressed air energy and electrical resources. It is also another year that we continue to focus on manufacturing our products with minimal impact and doing our part to help protect our planet. We are proud to manufacture efficient products, implement processes and programs throughout our facility to help use our resources wisely and recycle everything we possibly can.

First and foremost, we manufacture and sell Intelligent Compressed Air Products that are specifically designed to reduce the use of compressed air throughout facilities. On top of that, when you purchase an EXAIR product it will arrive in fully recyclable packaging and, in most cases, is made from a material that will be recyclable should it reach a point it is no longer useful.

In the past year we have improved the efficiency of our computers and computer servers which require fewer Kilowatt hours (KWH) per day . We have been able to reduce KWH/day by over 56%! This reduces our impact on the local electricity provider and further shrinks our impact upon precious resources.

EXAIR recycles 100% of the metal scrap from our machining processes, which equates to 6.5 tons. Our cardboard and mixed paper products are also recycled 100%. Of the waste we place into our trash dumpsters – 80% is recycled and 20% is sent to the landfill. The paper products even get down to all of paper towels that are used and all the scratch paper that the office utilizes. In total, EXAIR recycled 35.4 tons of paper and cardboard in 2017. We focus on more ways to improve this percentage every year.

Another waste reducing factor that has proven to work out well for EXAIR is asking every customer if they accept digital invoices rather than requiring them to be printed and mailed. Thanks to our wonderful customers we have been able to eliminate 91% of all printed and mailed invoices which helps to reduce our resources used as well as the amount of materials that are possibly turned into solid wastes at their facilities. This also prevents the gas and vehicles necessary to deliver all of these invoices by mail.

To get back to what EXAIR products have done to help reduce waste, we were also able to optimize our own compressed air system by eliminating air leaks and have saved 1 million cubic feet of compressed air. We have also utilized our very own Chip Trapper Systems in our manufacturing areas and extended the water soluble coolant life from 6 weeks per changeover to 6 months per changeover. Keeping our coolant clean allows us to minimize the total amount of wastewater we recycle each year.

We continued to reduce our wastewater for reclamation – in 2017 we recycled 795 gallons, a reduction of 213 gallons compared to 2016, due to extending the life of our coolant.

On top of all the efforts above, we also continue to maintain RoHS compliance on all electronic products, as well as actively track our supply chains to ensure no Conflict Minerals are being sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If you have any questions on how we can help your facility reduce their use of compressed air or why we continue to reduce our wastes and increase our recycling efforts, contact us.

To see our full Sustainability Plan follow this link.

Enjoy Your Weekend,
EXAIR Corporation

 

Thank you to Kate Ter Haar for the Happy Earth Day image. Creative Commons License.
Thank you to AFS-USA Intercultural Programs for the volunteer image. Creative Commons License. 

A Unique Application for the Ultrasonic Leak Detector

Here on the EXAIR blog we post a ton of different applications for our products. We typically see similar applications each day and write about them so that you may identify potential points in your various processes that may benefit from an engineered compressed air solution. Many of these are typical blowoff or cooling applications that we see day in and day out. Sometimes, though, we see some applications that are outside the realm of typical operation. This can sometimes require the manufacturing of a specialized part or just getting a little creative with a stock product.

Our distributor in Argentina recently contacted me about a unique application for an Ultrasonic Leak Detector. The Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector is a hand-held instrument that allows you to locate costly leaks in a compressed air distribution system. As pressurized air exits a small orifice, an ultrasonic sound that is above human hearing is created. The Ultrasonic Leak Detector is able to pick up on these sound emissions and can convert it to an audible range that is able to be heard by the human ear. Typically, this product is used in conjunction with a leak prevention program to help save money and compressed air by identifying leaks in the distribution system.

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Model 9061 ULD detecting a leak

The customer is a manufacturer of plastic bottles used to hold a wide variety of different personal care products. The bottles were molded in two separate pieces, then brought together and sealed. After the two pieces of the bottle were sealed, they had to test each one to ensure that they remained watertight. Their current method involved filling the cavities with water and inspecting for leaks.

While this method was effective, when a leak was present water would get all over the machine and floor and needed to be cleaned up. This to them was considered a nuisance and they began to explore alternative methods of checking the seals on the bottles. They found EXAIR’s Ultrasonic Leak Detector and wondered if they could use it to detect leaks on the bottles if they were to pressurize them with compressed air instead of filling them with water. We’ve handled similar applications in the past, this one here a customer used the ULD to detect leaks from poor welds on the roof of buses. They ordered one for testing and were very pleased with the results. The ULD had no problem detecting leaks in the bottles and allowed them to eliminate the mess and annoyance associated with using water.

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Operator testing for leaks using the ULD

Just because you can’t find a particular application in our Application Database on the website or here on the blog, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done! With our unconditional 30 day guarantee for all stock products you have plenty of time to test it out in your specific application. If for any reason it won’t work for you, just send it back and we’ll try something else.

If you have a unique application that could be served by an Intelligent Compressed Air Product, give us a call. Trust me when I say we absolutely LOVE tackling a new and exciting challenge with a creative solution!

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

A Brief History of the Air Compressor

Essentially compressed air technology was first used with the knowledge of how to start a fire.  Humans learned that to get the fire started, blowing helped the process, healthy human lungs can generate approximately .02 to .08 bar or .3 to 1.2 PSI.

At the beginning of the metallurgical age (approximately 3000 B.C.) a higher volume of air than what human lungs could produce was required to the reach the temperatures required to melt and form metals such as copper, tin, lead, etc.  This need lead to the hand-operated bellows, the first mechanical air compressor.  Approximately 1500 years later the more efficient foot powered bellows was developed.

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The foot powered bellows was followed by water powered bellows and was the mainstay for more than 2000 years.  However as blast furnaces came into being the need for compressed air increased.  This lead John Smeaton in 1762 to design a water wheel that powered a blowing cylinder and this began to replace bellows.  In 1776 John Wilkinson developed an efficient blasting machine and this was the beginning for mechanically powered air compressors.

As time progressed the idea of transmitting energy via compressed air became acceptable.  This idea was demonstrated around 1800 when the newly invented pneumatic rock drill was used to tunnel 80 miles under Mt. Cenis to connect Italy & France by rail.  This was an extraordinary feat for the time and garnered global interest.  This event perpetuated great interest into pneumatic powered devices  and brought us the air powered motors, clocks and even beer dispensers!

While compressed air is capable of transmitting energy long distances and performing tremendous work it also referred to as the 4th utility in industrial plants due to its cost.  We at EXAIR have been promoting compressed air conservation and safety using highly engineered products for 35 years!  Our products wring the maximum of energy out of every SCFM fed to them by using air entrainment and the Coanda effect.  Not only are we conserving your compressed air we offer products that are quiet and can’t be dead ended which prevents air embolisms.

If you are interested in discussing conserving compressed air and/or compressed air safety, I would enjoy hearing from you.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer

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A Review of Centrifugal Air Compressors

Over the last few months, my EXAIR colleagues and I have blogged about several different types of air compressor types including single and double acting reciprocating, rotary screw, sliding vane and rotary-scroll air compressors. You can click on the links above to check those out. Today, we will examine centrifugal air compressors.

The types of compressors that we have looked at to date have been of the Positive Displacement type.  For this type, an amount of air is drawn in and trapped in the compression area, and the volume in which it is held is mechanically reduced, resulting is rise in pressure as it approaches the discharge point.

types of compressors

The centrifugal air compressors fall under the Dynamic type. A dynamic compressor operates through the principle that a continuous flow of air has its velocity raised in an impeller rotating at a relatively high speed (can exceed 50,000 rpm.) The air has an increase in its kinetic energy (due to the rise in velocity) and then the kinetic energy is transformed to pressure energy in a diffuser and/or a volute chamber. The volute is a curved funnel that increases in area as it approaches the discharge port. The volute converts the kinetic energy into pressure by reducing speed while increasing pressure. About one half of the energy is developed in the impeller and the other half in the diffuser and volute.

Centrifugal Compressor
Centrifugal Compressor Components

The most common centrifugal air compressor has two to four stages to generate pressures of 100 to 150 PSIG.  A water cooled inter-cooler and separator between each stage removes condensation and cools the air prior to entering the next stage.

Some advantages of the Centrifugal Air Compressor-

  • Comes completely packaged fort plant air up to 1500 hp
  • As size increases, relative initial costs decrease
  • Provides lubricant-free air
  • No special foundation required

A few disadvantages-

  • Higher initial investment costs
  • Has specialized maintenance requirements
  • Requires unloading for operation at reduced operational capacities

EXAIR recommends consulting with a reputable air compressor dealer in your area, to fully review all of the parameters associated with the selection and installation of a compressed air system.

If you would like to talk about air compressors or any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Super Air Knife Replaces a Blower-type Air Knife and Saves Money Annually

Sheet washing system

A sheet metal company made thin stainless steel sheets in their process.   Before the sheets were rolled up, it went through a washing system.  Two blower-type air knives were mounted after the wash cycle to remove the residual water from the surface.  They purchased the blower-style air knives under the belief that they would save money by not using compressed air.  They found out quickly that it was not a true statement especially when it comes to the total cost of ownership.

With the dirty environment at their facility, the inlet filter on the blower was getting plugged.  The blower motor would heat up from the filter being restricted.  After eight months of service, the blower motor failed due to excessive heat.  The replacement was very costly, and it created a production stoppage for an entire day.  The manufacturer of the blower-type air knife recommended that the filter should be changed every month instead of quarterly.  This recommendation increased the monthly budget for the blower system, but they did not want to replace the blower motor again.  Instead of a quarterly stop in production for maintenance, the washing system had to be stopped every month for filter change-out.   They decided to contact EXAIR to see if their concept of “saving money” with the blower-type air knife was valid.

To better explain the concept, I divided the comparisons into different categories explaining the details between the Super Air Knife and the blower system.

  1. Initial Cost:
    • Blower System – They are an expensive set up when you have to include a blower, ducting, and a knife. To have any flexibility, a control panel with a VFD will be needed.
    • Super Air Knife – It is a fraction of the cost. With their system above, we were roughly 1/4 the cost.  A capital expense would not be required for ordering two Super Air Knives to remove the water from the stainless steel sheets.
  1. Maintenance:
    • Blower System – The intake filter had to be changed every month, and the customer estimated a cost of $150.00 each. The motor and belt also had to be checked quarterly as a preventive maintenance.  Being that the blower motor is a mechanical device, the bearings and belts will wear and have to be replaced.  Without proper maintenance, things can break prematurely.  This customer had to already replace the motor in their system.
    • Super Air Knife – They do not have any moving parts to wear out, and they are not affected by the dirty environment. Only compressed air is needed to operate.  The maintenance requirement is to change the compressed air filter once a year.  The annual price for the replacement filter is less than $35.00.
  2. Compressed air usage:
    • Blower System – This device does not require any compressed air to operate, but it does use an electric motor. For this customer, they had a 7.5KW blower motor.  With the inherent designs of blower-type air knives, they have reduced blowing forces and turbulent air flows.  This combination required maximum power output on the 7.5KW blower motor.
    • Super Air Knife –With their unique design, it has one of the highest efficiencies in the market place. It can entrain 40 parts of ambient “free” air with every 1 part of compressed air.  With laminar flow and the power of compressed air, the Super Air Knives can be used at a much lower air pressure.  To compare with the electric blower motor above, the Super Air Knives only required 11KW of compressor power to operate.
  3. Noise:
    • Blower System – With the turbulent air flow, the blower units are very loud. It can have a sound level near 93 dBA.  If operators are working near the system, they would require PPE for hearing.  The cost for proper hearing equipment and the training for the operators will add more cost with using blower systems.
    • Super Air Knife – These units are very quiet. Even at an elevated pressure, the sound level is only 72 dBA at 100 PSIG.  This level is below the maximum noise exposure for hearing safety as marked in OSHA 29CFR 1910.95(a).

 

I tabulated the annual cost comparison and shared it with the customer to better explain the total cost of ownership.  After reviewing the information, they decided to try two pieces of the model 110230 Super Air Knife Kits.  When they replaced the blower-type air knives, the customer did share some additional information.  First, they were amazed at the ease of installation.  The blower-type air knives had to be electrically wired; floor space was sacrificed for the blower; the connection hoses were large and bulky; and the mounting was cumbersome.  The customer also noticed the amount of power that was created by the Super Air Knives.  They were able to increase the feed rates of the stainless steel sheets if they wanted and still keep the surface dry.  This gave them flexibility in their production system.  And of course, the maintenance time and cost were practically eliminated.  Compressed air is expensive, but if you use EXAIR products, you can use the compressed air very efficiently.  As noticed in the tabulation above, the total cost of ownership is very expensive for the blower-type air knives as compared to the Super Air Knives.  You can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR if you want to discuss further the benefits of using the Super Air Knives.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Fluidics, Boundary Layers, And Engineered Compressed Air Products

Fluidics is an interesting discipline of physics.  Air, in particular, can be made to behave quite peculiarly by flowing it across a solid surface.  Consider the EXAIR Standard and Full Flow Air Knives:

Compressed air flows through the inlet (1) to the Full Flow (left) or Standard (right) Air Knife, into the internal plenum. It then discharges through a thin gap (2), adhering to the Coanda profile (3) which directs it down the face of the Air Knife. The precision engineered & finished surfaces serve to optimize the entrainment of air (4) from the surrounding environment.

If you’ve ever used a leaf blower, or rolled down the car window while traveling at highway speed, you’re familiar with the power of a high velocity air flow.  Now consider that the Coanda effect can cause such a drastic redirection of this kind of air flow, and that’s a prime example of just how interesting the science of fluidics can be.

EXAIR Air Amplifiers, Air Wipes, and Super Air Nozzles also employ the Coanda effect to entrain air, and the Super Air Knife employs similar precision engineered surfaces to optimize entrainment, resulting in a 40:1 amplification ratio:

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products such as (left to right) the Air Wipe, Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, and Air Amplifier are engineered to entrain enormous amounts of air from the surrounding environment.

As fascinating as all that is, the entrainment of air that these products employ contributes to another principle of fluidics: the creation of a boundary layer.  In addition to the Coanda effect causing the fluid to follow the path of the surface it’s flowing past, the flow is also affected in direct proportion to its velocity, and inversely by its viscosity, in the formation of a boundary layer.

High velocity, low viscosity fluids (like air) are prone to develop a more laminar boundary layer, as depicted on the left.

This laminar, lower velocity boundary layer travels with the primary air stream as it discharges from the EXAIR products shown above.  In addition to amplifying the total developed flow, it also serves to attenuate the sound level of the higher velocity primary air stream.  This makes EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products not only as efficient as possible in regard to their use of compressed air, but as quiet as possible as well.

If you’d like to find out more about how the science behind our products can improve your air consumption, give me a call.

Dirty Coolant in, Clean Coolant Out – EXAIR’s Chip Trapper Extends Coolant Life

In a machine shop one of the most dreaded tasks is always cleaning out the coolant sumps of the CNC machines. Over time, chips and shavings can make their way up into the coolant lines resulting in a clog. The coolant flow slows down or stops entirely, resulting in premature wear of expensive cutting tools, imperfections in the parts, or unacceptable product finish. When this occurs, if it is even noticed right away, the machine has to be stopped and valuable production time must be spent identifying the location of the clog and removing it.

Another problem, one anyone working around CNC machines can attest to, is the rancid coolant smell that is a result of bacteria building up in the stagnant cutting fluid. Regularly cleaning this oil can reduce this smell, prevent premature tool wear or costly shutdowns, as well as extend the overall life of your coolant.

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There are some machines out there capable of cleaning the oil and removing any chips or shavings, but these tend to be very expensive and not very effective. We tested a few different methods here at EXAIR in our machine shop. As a result of these tests we determined that the best foot forward would be to develop something ourselves. Enter the EXAIR Chip Trapper. Using either a standard or High Lift Reversible Drum Vac to provide the vacuum source, the Chip Trapper is capable of filling or emptying a 55 gallon drum in less than two minutes. It is able to pick up both the liquid coolant as well as any chips or shavings that are suspended in the coolant. The liquid is forced through a filter bag inside of the drum which contains any solid materials while allowing the coolant to filter out into the drum. Switching the knob on the Reversible Drum Vac and the directional flow valve to empty will allow the clean coolant to be pumped back out of the drum and reused.

After implementing the Chip Trapper in our own shop, we were able to increase the life of the coolant by 6x. In addition to the increased coolant life, a process that used to take up to 2 hours per machine now takes less than 10 minutes. The Chip Trapper quickly and easily pays for itself.

The Chip Trapper is available in either 30, 55, and 110 gallon systems. It’ll also come with (2) 5 micron filter bags, other filter bags are also available ranging from 1 micron up to 200 micron filtration. Using a simple detergent, the filter bags can be washed out, cleaned, and reused multiple times. With no motors or impellers to clog or wear out, as well as no electricity requirement or shock hazard, the Chip Trapper comes with our standard 5-year Built to Last Warranty. Do yourself (and your machine operators) a favor and get a Chip Trapper on order today. They’re in stock, ready to ship and start saving you time and money!

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