Super Air Knives in Agriculture

I spoke with an international agribusiness that specialized in improving processes with cutting-edge technologies in the agricultural sector.  They started a project with a company to improve their drying process for potatoes.   This company was washing 10 tons of potatoes per hour during 16-hour days.  The potatoes would travel along a conveyor that was 90cm (35.4”) wide after the washing system where they had three blower air knives to remove the water from the surface.  Since the project scope was to increase productivity, the agribusiness company targeted their biggest issue, the blower air knives.

They described the two main problems that their customer was experiencing.  First, the conveyor had to run at a slower rate to remove enough water from the surface of the potatoes before packaging.  Thus, the feed rate into the washing system ran intermittently to not overload the drying process.  The main issue was that the blower system was limited with force.  It could not generate a strong enough air stream to properly dry the entire spud at higher speeds.  Thus, the conveyor system was not at an optimal range.

The second issue was premature spoilage of the potatoes which had to be discarded.  I remember when my family would store potatoes in bunkers under the ground to keep them cool.  This would help to slow the bacterial growth which causes spoilage.  Blower systems generate hot air from the electric motors.  Since bacteria growth is enhanced with warmer temperatures, the potato company was noticing poor appearance and early spoilage.  To increase their profits, they wanted to dry the potatoes without heat.

110236SS Super Air Knife Kit

EXAIR has been manufacturing leading-edge technology since 1983, and we could offer a solution.  For removing water from the surface of the potatoes; the EXAIR Super Air Knife would be the perfect instrument.  This compact system is easy to install; and it does not have any moving parts to wear or need shutdowns for maintenance.

I recommended to replace the three blower-air knives with one piece of a model 110236SS Super Air Knife Kit.  The kit includes a 36” (914mm) 303SS Super Air Knife, a filter, a regulator and a shim set.  The regulator and shim set are specifically designed to control the force requirement and air usage to the Super Air Knife.  So, you can fine tune the correct amount of force to blow around the entire potato for effective drying.  For a stock Super Air Knife, the model 110236SS can generate 5.6 pounds of force (2.55 Kilograms) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar); a tough target for a blower air knife.  The agribusiness was excited about the concept and wanted to know more.

Another unique feature with the EXAIR Super Air Knife is the engineered design.  We are able to reach a 40:1 amplification ratio.  That means for every 1 part of compressed air, we can entrain 40 parts of ambient air.  What does this mean?  First, the Super Air Knife is very efficient within your compressed air system as we are using mainly free ambient air.  Second, since majority of the air is ambient, the temperature of the air is not heated; thus, a cooler air stream.   And third, by adding the mass of the ambient air, it gives a stronger blowing force.  So, the Super Air Knife was able to meet both of the agribusiness requirements.  In the end, we were able to cut scrap and increase the production rate by almost 10%.

If you need to dry your agricultural items with cutting-edge technology, EXAIR would be the manufacturer for you.   We are staffed with Application Engineers to find solutions and improvements, and we will be happy to discuss your application.  For this agribusiness company, they were excited to work with EXAIR to get a great result for the company above in the potato arena.

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

Internal Mix Atomizing Spray Nozzle Used In Feed Additive Process

Last week I took a call from an agricultural customer looking to replace the spray nozzle used in their feed additive process. The soy oil/beeswax solution they are applying to the feed, is slightly viscous (close to 100 cP) which seems to be clogging the tight clearances inside the current nozzle, resulting in varying flow rates and an erratic spray pattern. They had tried to contact the current manufacturer several times for a solution but were unhappy with the lack of assistance they were receiving, not to mention the long lead times of 6-8 weeks for a replacement.

After further discussion, they confirmed they weren’t as concerned with the flow rate or spray pattern, as they were with the nozzle potentially getting clogged.  They were able to obtain some internal dimensions of the existing nozzle and after further review, I recommended they use our Model # AF1030SS Internal Mix Flat Pattern Atomizing Nozzle as a replacement. This nozzle has larger inside diameters which would reduce the potential for clogging. Our Internal Mix Atomizing Nozzles mix the liquid and air inside the air cap and produce the finest atomization. The flow rate can be changed by adjusting the control valve on the nozzle and/or by adjusting the liquid pressure. Internal Mix nozzles are capable of handling fluids up to 300 Centipoise. All of our Atomizing Nozzles are In STOCK, so delivery is never an issue.

Model AF1030SS Internal Mix Flat Fan Pattern Atomizing Nozzle

When considering an Atomizing Nozzle for an application, there are some general parameters that can be helpful in making the best selection.

  1. Do you have a pressurized liquid source?
  2. What is the fluid viscosity?
  3. What spray pattern best fits the process?
  4. How much flow (GPH/LPH) do I need?

If you have an application requiring a fine mist of atomized liquid spray, please contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Engineering Makes The Difference In Spraying Application

The Paint Line Engineering Manager for a major agricultural & industrial equipment manufacturer wanted to improve the efficiency of their paint lines. They had “halo” systems through which large parts passed for primer & paint coatings, which were equipped with inexpensive liquid-only spray nozzles:

Liquid-only spray nozzles lack the control and efficiency of engineered solutions like EXAIR's Atomizing Spray Nozzles
Liquid-only nozzles lack the control and efficiency of engineered solutions like EXAIR’s Atomizing Spray Nozzles

You can get a whole handful of these and it’ll still cost you less than one of our Atomizing Spray Nozzles will.  If you don’t have any particular concerns about efficiency, spray pattern adjustment, droplet size or flow control (and a lot of applications don’t require this, and that’s fine,) then these will work GREAT for you.  And again, they’re abundant and cheap.

That wasn’t the case here – turns out, good quality paint is expensive, and every drop wasted adds up.  Getting a fine, even coating on parts of different sizes & shapes, every time, requires precision control of the flow pattern.  And design of an automated system benefits from a wide selection of options to choose from.

Enter the EXAIR line of Atomizing Spray Nozzles.  With (90) models to choose from, we can cover (literally) darn near any spraying application you can come up with.  If you know what flow rate and/or spray pattern you’re looking for (like a Paint Line Engineering Manager would,) then selection is quick & easy.  Paint consumption is down, quality is up…and the reliability of the new system means they’re spending less time and resources on cleaning & maintenance. For the record, the halo system ended up looking like this:

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles provide efficient, reliable coating.
EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles provide efficient, reliable coating.

If you’d like to find out more about how engineered products, like EXAIR’s Atomizing Spray Nozzles, can make a difference to your operations…and your bottom line…give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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