Intelligent Compressed Air: What is an Air Compressor?

One thing that is found in virtually every industrial environment is an air compressor. Some uses for the compressed air generated are: powering pneumatic tools, packaging, automation equipment, conveyors, controls systems, and various others. Pneumatic tools are favored because they tend to be smaller and more lightweight than electric tools, offer infinitely variable speed and torque, and can be safer than the hazards associated with electrical devices. In order to power these devices, compressed air must be generated.

There are two main categories of air compressors: positive-displacement and dynamic. In a positive-displacement type, a given quantity of air is trapped in a compression chamber. The volume of which it occupies is mechanically reduced (squished), causing a corresponding rise in pressure. In a dynamic compressor, velocity energy is imparted to continuously flowing air by a means of impellers rotating at a very high speed. The velocity energy is then converted into pressure energy.

Of the positive-displacement variety they are broken down further into two more categories: reciprocating and rotary. A reciprocating compressor works like a bicycle pump. A piston reduces the volume occupied by the air or gas, compressing it into a higher pressure. There are two types of reciprocating compressors, single or double-acting. Single-acting compressors are the most common and are available up to 30HP at 200 psig. Their small size and weight allow them to be installed near the point of use and avoid lengthy piping runs. These are the types of compressors that would be commonly found in your garage. The double-acting reciprocating compressor is much like its single-acting brethren, only it uses both sides of the piston and cylinder for air compression. This doubles the capacity of the compressor for a given cylinder size. They are much more efficient than single-acting compressors, but are more expensive and do require a more specialized installation and maintenance.

Rotary compressors are available in lubricant-injected or lubricant-free varieties. These types of compressors use two inter-meshing rotors that have an inlet port at one end and a discharge port at the other. Air flows through the inlet port and is trapped between the lobes and the stator. As the rotation continues, the point intermeshing begins to move along the length of the rotors. This reduces the space that is occupied by the air, resulting in an increase in pressure. In the lubricant-injected compressors, the compression chamber is lubricated between the intermeshing rotors and bearings. This takes away the heat of compression and also acts as a seal. In the lubricant-free varieties, the intermeshing rotors have very tight tolerances and are not allowed to touch. Since there is no fluid to remove the heat of compression, they typically have two stages of compression with an intercooler between and an after cooler after the second stage. Lubricant-free compressors are beneficial as they supply clean, oil-free compressed air. They are, however, more expensive and less efficient to operate than the lubricant-injected variety.

On the other side of the coin, we have the dynamic compressors. These are comprised of two main categories: axial and centrifugal. These types of compressors raise the pressure of air or gas by imparting velocity energy and converting it to pressure energy. In a centrifugal air compressor, air continuously flows and is accelerated by an impeller. This impeller can rotate at speeds that exceed 50,000 rpm. Centrifugal air compressors are generally much larger and can accommodate flow ranges of 500-100,000 CFM. They also provide lubricant-free air.

Axial compressors are used for situations that require lower pressure but high flow rates. They do not change the direction of the gas, it enters and exits the compressor in an axial direction. It is accelerated and then diffused which creates the increase in pressure. A common application that would be served by this type of compressor is to compress the air intake of gas turbines. They have a relatively high peak efficiency, however their large overall size and weight as well as the high starting power requirements pose some disadvantages.

Of course, any of these types of compressors can be used to supply air to your engineered Intelligent Compressed Air Products. If you have an application in your facility that could benefit from an engineered solution, give us a call. An Application Engineer would be happy to discuss your options with you and see to it that you’re getting the most out of your compressed air!

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

Image courtesy of Compressor1 via Creative Commons License

Big Nozzle, Big Award…Again!

The year was 2016, and it was quite a time for sports fans:

  • Team USA dominated at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Swimmer Michael Phelps won five Gold Medals, and gymnast Simone Biles won a Gold Medal on her own, and another for the team event, contributing to the 46 total Gold Medals won by United States Olympians.
  • The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians took the World Series to all seven games…and extra innings in Game Seven. That makes it hard to disparage either team, but the Cubs prevailed, winning the Fall Classic for the first time in 108 years.
  • World Series heartbreak notwithstanding, Cleveland sports fans were pretty happy a few months earlier when the Cavaliers cinched the NBA Championship in seven games, defeating the heavily favored Golden State Warriors…who beat the Cavs in both of their regular season games that year.

Another big winner (non-sports) that year was EXAIR Corporation’s Model EF5010SS External Mix Narrow Angle Flat Fan Pattern 1/2 NPT Atomizing Spray Nozzle…it won Plant Engineering’s Product of the Year Bronze Medal Award in the Fluid Handling category. Yes, there’s a Compressed Air category, and our products have won a TON of those too…as well as some other categories:

  • Material Handling (Line Vacs)
  • Maintenance Products (Super Air Nozzles)
  • Environmental Health (High Lift Reversible Drum Vac)
  • Automation & Controls (EFC Electronic Flow Control)
Just a few of our past Product of the Year award winners in categories other than “Compressed Air”.

Anyway, now it’s 2021, and the No-Drip version of that Atomizing Spray Nozzle – Model EF6010SS – has won Plant Engineering’s GOLD Medal Award in the Fluid Handling category. Model EF6010SS offers the same performance as the EF5010SS:

  • Liquid flow rates from 141 to 303 gallons per hour (tested with water)
  • Flat fan spray dimensions from 15″ wide (6″ from target) to 25″ wide (15″ from target)
  • Atomized spray at a distance of up to 35 feet away

And, of course, the No-Drip feature means you can instantly stop liquid flow by shutting off the compressed air supply, up to 180 cycles a minute, if needed. This is a great feature to have to cut down on the cost – and the MESS – associated with overspraying.

Our comprehensive line of Atomizing Spray Nozzles has options for most any liquid that can be sprayed, with a wide range of flow rates and pattern size/shapes. The 1/2 NPT External Mix Narrow Angle Flat Fan model is ideally suited for liquids with higher viscosities where a higher flow rate/thicker coating is needed, as opposed to a humidification or misting application, where a smaller Atomizing Spray Nozzle might be specified. Some current, successfully reported, applications include:

  • Snack food provider – applying flavoring to bulk snack materials.
  • Commercial bakery – spraying cooking oil onto pans used in a conveyor oven.
  • Sporting goods manufacturer – applying adhesive to the tops of skateboard decks to glue the grip tape on.

If you’d like to discuss a particular liquid spraying application, I’d love to help…give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Customized for Your Process: Special Pneumatic Conveyors

For many, material conveyance is a necessary factor in their manufacturing and processing procedures. Much of the time our large array of different Line Vacs (air operated conveyors) can suit a large array of different conveying applications; but sometimes the stock item is just not the right fit for a specific application. Fortunately, since we manufacture everything here in Cincinnati, OH we have the flexibility to provide custom products throughout all of our 16 product lines. The Line Vac product line, even as large as it is, is a pretty common product for us to customize and manufacture. The following are a few examples of special Line Vacs that we have made in the past.

Liner Vacs connect to a hose, tube or pipe to create a powerful inline conveyor, powered by compressed air.

The Special Mini Line Vac:

This special was designed with barbed fittings for easier installation for a manufacturer of integrated circuit chips. It was used to remove microscopic debris. The small body and high vacuum flow made it a perfect fit for the confined working space.

Special Mini Line Vac

The PVDF Line Vac:

This 1 ½” flanged Line Vac was designed using PVDF to provide a superior chemical resistance. In this case the unit was going to be exposed to a chloride wash which will corrode all versions of steel including stainless steel. The QF Flanges were also added to provide easy disassembly when the Line Vac was scheduled for cleaning.

Special Flanged PVDF Line Vac

The Special Flanged Line Vac:

This next special Line Vac was used to convey a measured granulated material into a pouch. The funnel side was loaded with the pre-measured material and pushed into a mesh pouch when the air was activated.

Special Flanged Line Vac

Special Flanged Refumigation Line Vac:

This flanged Line Vac was used to retrofit existing machinery to remove acidic vapors resulting from surface etching of a silicon wafer. Where this would typically be a nice fit for a Stainless Steel Air Amplifier, the existing exhaust piping was lengthy with many bends that would have caused back pressure on any Air Amplifiers. In this case, they needed the additional force from the Line Vac to overcome this downstream resistance.

Special Flanged Line Vac

As you can see there isn’t much that we can’t do for you. The sky is the limit when it comes to thinking up of a custom-made solution for your application. Our Application Engineers are just the right folks to work with when considering a custom solution for your process. They have seen and heard many requests and past success stories, which can aid with any future solutions you may need. Whether it is for a blow off application using air knives, cooling application using vortex tubes, or of course conveyance application using a Line Vac.

If you have questions about our custom made Line Vac solutions or any of our engineered Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR or any Application Engineer.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Looking for a Reliable Compressed Air Products Supplier?

It starts with EXAIR’s Application Engineers, gains momentum with our Customer Service Team and finishes with our high quality products that ship same day. EXAIR’s Application Engineers are the most experienced and accredited in this industry. We are the product experts across all of our 15 product lines. I have been with EXAIR going on 2 years now but have many years of experience in other industries and manufacturing processes prior to being with EXAIR. I have held positions in cost estimating, sales engineering, project engineering, purchasing, program engineering and management/manufacturing positions. I love the challenges that customers bring our way and the satisfaction that comes with providing them solutions to their process and efficiency problems while improving safety in many cases.

To be a successful application engineer at EXAIR you need to be a great communicator and listen intently to every customer. You must have a solid understanding of the customer needs and how EXAIR products can fit into their process. Having experience in injection molding, metal stampings, custom fabricating, metallurgy, castings, welding, assembly and paint lines certainly brings the knowledge to helping a customer choose the right product. The biggest challenge I had is learning all the products and performance values for each product at EXAIR. This is an ongoing process as we also customize products and add new products regularly.

I enjoy talking to each customer as no conversation is the same. We serve just about every industry and support customers around the world. Having a diverse background helps me to understand the many processes that each of our products can assist in cleaning, coating, drying, ventilating, transport, cool, etc… and gives me a great deal of satisfaction when a customer makes the purchase and has a successful experience. I hope to have a conversation with you for your next project and to help identify one of EXAIR’s products. If you have any questions or projects please contact me or any of the many Application Engineers at 800.903.9247 or by visiting us at http://www.EXAIR.com. Any of us will be sure to provide the best experience possible.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK