Vortex Tubes – The Basics, And Beyond

The Vortex Tube might be just about the most interesting compressed air device around.  They have no moving parts, and they don’t need any but a compressed air supply, which they ‘split’ into a hot air stream, and a cold air stream.

EXAIR Vortex Tubes come in three sizes – Small, Medium, and Large – and 24 distinct Models across those three sizes.  They’re all in stock, along with Hot & Cold Mufflers (for sound level reduction,) Automatic Drain Filter Separators (to keep the air supply clean & moisture free,) Oil Removal Filters (to coalesce any trace of oil from the air supply,) and Solenoid Valves & Thermostats (to automate operation.)

From left to right; a few value added accessories for your Vortex Tube: Hot Muffler, Cold Muffler, Automatic Drain Filter Separator, Oil Removal Filter, and Solenoid Valve/Thermostat Kit.

The Vortex Tube, right out of the box, is easily adaptable to a wide range of cooling (or heating) applications.  If your needs are specific, though, we can customize a Vortex Tube to meet them:

  • Material of construction: our stock Vortex Tubes are made of 303SS and are equipped with a plastic Generator and Buna o-ring.
    • For high temperature (>125F ambient) applications, we can install a brass Generator and Viton o-ring, suitable for ambient temperatures up to 200F.
    • If the environment is particularly aggressive, or if industry codes (I’m looking at you, food & pharma) call for it, we can also make them out of other materials.  We’ve, for instance, made them out of 316SS, complete with material certifications, when needed.
  • Flow & temperature: the Hot Valve can be opened or closed to dial in a particular Cold Fraction (that’s the percentage of the supply air which is directed to the cold end.)  If you know what flow rate and temperature you want, we can replace the Hot Valve with a non-adjustable plug, so your Vortex Tube’s cold flow is only dependent on the compressed air supply temperature and pressure.
  • Accessories: if you’re looking for features like a magnetic base, or a flexible cold air hose, you might consider an Adjustable Spot Cooler.  If you like the idea of tool-free change of air flow/temperature, that’s definitely the way to go.  If you want those other options, and don’t mind using a screwdriver to adjust the Cold Fraction, those other options are compatible with any Medium Vortex Tube.
Model 3925 Adjustable Spot Cooler

These are just a few of the most common possibilities for customizing a Vortex Tube.  If you have a spot cooling application you’d like to discuss, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Nozzles for Cleaning Inside Hose, Tube, Pipe and More

Some applications such as blowing chips or debris out of a pipe or blind hole, it may not be possible to blow forward. The pipe may be too long, making it impossible to push the debris all the way down the pipe or the other end of the pipe may not be open. In either of these scenarios, the Back Blow Nozzle is the right tool for the job. An array of holes around the diameter of the Back Blow Nozzles provides a powerful 360° airflow pattern that will clear out any leftover coolant or chips from the machining process.

EXAIR has three different size Back Blow Nozzles; the 1004SS (M4 x .5), the 1006SS (1/4 NPT), and the 1008SS (1” NPT). The 1004SS is recommended for use on pipes as small as ¼” and up to 1”. The 1006SS can be used for a wide range of pipe sizes, from 7/8” up to 4”. The 1008SS nozzle offers the greatest overall force for stubborn or sticky materials stuck to the inside diameter of the pipe. This nozzle is suitable for use in pipes ranging from 2”-16”. As the Back Blow Nozzle will be blowing chips and debris back out of the pipe towards the operator, it is always recommended that a Chip Shield is used. The strong polycarbonate Chip Shield will keep them safe from flying debris and keep you in compliance with OSHA directive 1910.242(b).

Various Views of the Model 1006SS Back Blow Nozzle

All of EXAIR’s Back Blow Nozzles are available with extensions. For the 1004SS we have extensions from 6”-36”, and from 12”-72” for the 1006SS and 1008SS. The Back Blow Nozzle can also be installed on our VariBlast, Soft Grip, Heavy Duty, and Super Blast Safety Air Guns. With such a wide range of available sizes and configurations, we can tackle just about any internal pipe cleaning application. If you have a process in your facility that may benefit from the use of one of these nozzles, give us a call and get one on order today!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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EXAIR Celebrates Manufacturing Day With A Win For A Manufacturer

In 2012, the National Association of Manufacturers organized an effort to proclaim the first Friday in October (hey, that’s today!) as Manufacturing Day.  According to the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (a division of NIST, the National Institute of Standards & Testing,) the purpose of MFG Day is “to raise awareness among students, parents, educators and the general public about modern manufacturing and the rewarding careers available.”

Today is kind of a big deal around here.  Not only is EXAIR Corporation a manufacturer, but many of the companies that use our products are as well.  A lot of us have a rich story, woven into the cloth of the history of American manufacturing (which, in turn, is woven into the larger cloth of American history.)  Have you heard the one about the motivated inventor with an idea to make innovative products who started an operation out of his home that, with inspired direction & vision, became a worldwide leader in their industry?

Yeah; that’s us.  Today, we’re honoring Roy Sweeney’s legacy (he founded the company in October 1983,) and celebrating MFG Day, by publishing a new Case Study, proving out the benefits of the use of EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products in regard to the monetary savings associated with the reduction in compressed air use, and the noise level reduction from the implementation of our engineered products.

You can download the complete Case Study here, but while we’re on the subject, here’s a basic rundown:

  • A roll forming operation used to blow off their product with a combination of loud and inefficient devices: copper tubing and modular flexible hose which is designed primarily for machine tool coolant, but often misapplied for use with compressed air.
  • It worked just fine, but an engineering study noted it as a potential wasteful use of compressed air.  That’s when they called us.
  • By replacing those blow offs with Model 1100 Super Air Nozzles and Model 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles, their noise levels dropped from 107 dBA to 83.8 dBA.  To put that in perspective, it went from the approximate sound level of a rock concert to that of a leaf blower. (ref: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: What Causes Hearing Loss?)
  • Compressed air consumption dropped by more than half, from 190 SCFM to 86.8 SCFM…an annual savings of over $3,200.00.  All for an investment of $654.00 (2020 pricing) for those engineered Air Nozzles, Stay Set Hoses, and Magnetic Bases.  That means they’ll have paid for themselves in just under two months.
  • In addition to that, for participation in this Case Study, we’re giving them a generous credit on their order.  Happy Manufacturing Day!

And frankly, I think the engineered products just look better too.

Last but certainly not least, this reduction in compressed air usage decreases the load on their air compressors, reducing the electrical power consumed.  Product impact, along with our own consumption of resources and waste recycling, is a key component of EXAIR Corporation’s Sustainability Plan.  We’re making the world a better place, by making products that make the world a better place, using methods that make the world a better place.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Manufacturing Day.  If you want to get in on it, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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MFG Day logo courtesy of nist.gov

Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 3 – Use Efficient and Quiet Engineered Products

Compressed air is expensive, and you should treat it that way.  Frequent readers of the EXAIR Blog are familiar with our Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, and you may have seen these recent installments on Steps 1 and 2:

Six Steps to Optimization: Step 1 – Measure the Air Consumption

Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 2 – Find and Fix Leaks

Now, there isn’t a strict order in which you MUST perform these steps, and they’re not all applicable in every air system (looking at you, Step 5: Use Intermediate Storage,) but these are likely the steps that a certified auditor will take, and the order in which they’ll take them.  If you’re looking for immediate, quantifiable results, though, Step 3 is a great place to start.  Consider:

  • A 1/4″ copper tube blow off can consume as much as 33 SCFM when supplied with compressed air at 80psig.  It’ll give you a good, strong blow off, for sure.  You can crimp the end and get that down to, say, 20 SCFM or so.  Or, you can install a Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle with a compression fitting, and drop that to just 14 SCFM.
    • If you’re tracking your compressed air usage, you’ll see that replacing just one of them saves you 45,600 Standard Cubic Feet worth of compressed in one 5 day (8 hour a day) work week.  That’s $11.40 in air generation cost savings, for a $42 (2020 List Price) investment.
    • If you spend time in the space where it’s installed, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in the noise situation.  That sound level from the copper tube is likely over 100 dBA; the Super Air Nozzle’s is only 74 dBA.

This user was only a handful of compression fittings & nozzles away from over $800 in annual compressed air savings.

  • Drilled pipes are another common method to create a blow off.  They’re easy & cheap, but loud & expensive to operate.
    • A pipe drilled with 1/8″ holes and supplied @80psig will consume 13 SCFM per hole, and the holes are typically drilled on 1/2″ centers.
    • An EXAIR Super Air Knife consumes only 2.9 SCFM per inch of length, and because it’s an engineered product, it’s a LOT quieter as well.  Drilled pipes are, essentially, open ended blow offs just like the copper tube mentioned above.  When you let compressed air out of a hole like that, all the potential energy of the pressure is converted to force…and noise.
    • Drilled pipes are among the worst offenders; almost always well in excess of 100 dBA.  Super Air Knives generate a sound level of only 69 dBA with 80psig compressed air supply.  They are, in fact, the quietest compressed air blowing product on the market today.

This Model 110048 48″ Aluminum Super Air Knife replaced a drilled pipe for over $5,000 annual compressed air savings.

These aren’t just theoretical “for instances” either – the data, and the photos above, come from actual Case Studies we’ve performed with real live users of our products.  You can find them here, and here (registration required.)

These are two examples of EXAIR product users who only used Step 3 of our Six Steps, although BOTH of them were already practicing Step 4 (Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use)…they had their blow offs supplied through solenoid valves that were wired into the respective machine controls, and the Air Knife user HAD to do Step 6 (Control the air pressure at the point of use) to keep their product from being blown clear off the conveyor..

But we’ll be happy to help you with optimizing your compressed air system using any or all of the Six Steps. Give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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