Compressed Air in Farming and Agriculture

I used to help my father-in-law around his farm and this city boy had his eyes opened when he realized it was more than shovels, tractors and livestock. Agriculture is vital for human existence and has become far more advanced over the centuries with a continual thirst for efficiency and technology. Agriculture is just like many other industries looking for continued ways to increase yield, improve quality, maximize labor and improve technology.

EXAIR has many products used in the agriculture and food processing industries. The following details a few example by product line how we can influence efficiencies and quality of products:

Super Air Knife drying fruits and vegetables

Super Air Knives:

EXAIRs Super Air Knives are have ben used to help harvest apples and peaches. In this case they use our Super Air Knives to dry and blow off the fruit after the rinsing process just before the waxing process then again after waxing to blow off any remaining debris or moisture from the fruit before being packed.

A processing company using the Super Air Knife to clean a conveying belt equipped with a weighing system. Before the installation of the the Super Air Knife some of the cut vegetables being weighed would stick to the belt. Their solution was to clean the conveyor belt with EXAIR’s Super Air Knife to ensure continuous operation of the weighing and packaging systems.

Super Air Nozzles:

An onion farmer used EXAIR’s Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle to blow loose onion skins from the onions before packaging to improve the aesthetics to the customers.

Line Vacs:

A food packaging company repackages banana peppers from 55 gallon drums to 1 and 5 gallon containers using our Model 6066 3″ Stainless Steel Line Vac.

Using EXAIRs Model 150200 2″ Heavy Duty Line Vacs a feed stock manufacturer conveys various grains and feed stock simultaneously to a mixer which blends the ingredients. This reduced their blend time by 50%.

A grain processor used Model 142200 aluminum threaded Line Vac to convey small amounts of corn meal into a hopper which feeds into their inspection process.

A company producing worm eggs encapsulated in water soluble wax sold to farmers to enhance soil conditions. They eliminated a hand operation using Model 6081 1″ Aluminum Line Vac  to convey the worm eggs from one classifier to another.

EXAIR has several applications using Atomizing Spray nozzles to add moisture in growing environments . Greenhouses use our Atomizing spray nozzles to control humidity in the air and keep their soils moist to maintain optimal growing environments.

There are many other applications using compressed AIR on farms such as filling tires, cleaning equipment, blowing out water lines and more. Technology drives labor savings and improved quality prototypes are being designed and tested to use compressed air using drones to shoot pods filled with seeds, fertilizer and other nutrients into the soil. EXAIR will remain a strong influence in the growth of compressed air products helping to reduce the carbon footprint, enhance efficiencies and improve cost and quality within the agriculture and food processing industries.

If you have an application and you would like to talk please contact me or any of our qualified Application Engineers at 800.903.9247 and we will gladly help with our best recommendations.

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

Customize Air Knives Specific to Your Application!

EXAIR’s Super Air Knife utilizes a source of compressed air to create a laminar sheet of high velocity air. This supplied compressed air mixes with ambient air that is entrained into the primary airstream. The Super Air Knife entrains ambient air at a rate of 40:1, making it VERY effective in a variety of drying, cleaning, and cooling applications. Available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and in a variety of different materials of construction, there’s a Super Air Knife available for just about any application. Any time you have product moving along a conveyor that needs to be cleaned, dried, or cooled off, a Super Air Knife is the ideal fit.

The Super Air Knife is available in aluminum, Type 303 & Type 316 stainless steel, as well as in PVDF with Hastelloy bolts for extremely corrosive applications.  While there are numerous options available off the shelf ready to ship same day, not all applications can be served by a stock option. Since EXAIR handles all of the manufacturing of these products in our sole facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, we have a great deal of control over the manufacturing process. If your application cannot accept something right off the shelf, we’re constantly producing special customized knives to fit any requirement.

Any of our knives can be manufactured in a special length if a stock length won’t fit in your application. We’ll use the same design and profile and can build it to the precise length you require in order to fit perfectly onto your machine. If the dimensional profile of an existing knife isn’t suitable, we can change that too! The Super Air Knife shown below utilizes a very thin design and has been completely modified to achieve the thinnest overall profile possible.

All Super Air Knives come stock with ¼ NPT air inlets and ¼-20 tapped holes along the bottom that can be used for mounting. Unfortunately, that isn’t always going to work for every application, so we also manufacture specials with custom air inlets as well as additional mounting holes to fit right onto any custom bracket. The photo below shows a modified stainless steel Super Air Knife with additional mounting holes machined onto the end.

We don’t just offer them in different shapes and sizes as a special, but we’ve also manufactured stock length knives out of entirely different materials. Shown below are two knives of different materials that aren’t already on the shelf. On top is a knife manufactured from PVC and on the bottom a glass filled PEEK material with brass hardware and a PTFE shim. In this application, the customer was noticing ground interference due to the aluminum knife construction. They specified this particular material and we were able to machine a knife completely customized for this application.
Each and every year new requests come across that is something we haven’t done before. Just because you don’t see it in the catalog doesn’t mean it isn’t possible when you deal with EXAIR. We’re here to make sure you get the most out of our products, and sometimes custom features or materials are necessary to get that accomplished. Contact an Application Engineer today if you’d like to discuss your application and begin the process of identifying your next custom solution!

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

What Makes EXAIR’s Super Air Knife so Efficient

EXAIR Super Air Knives have been designed to improve upon performance characteristics of our original Standard Air Knife design, which was already a very good performer itself. The Super Air Knife design improves air consumption and noise exposure levels. Since they use less air, they cost less to operate. Because they operate quieter, they can contribute to a quieter environment and increase safety for your personnel. 

Compressed air is such a common utility in manufacturing environments (and more) that many of us take it for granted and may not be the best stewards of its use.  EXAIR Super Air Knives are the most efficient compressed air knife on the market today and help us all to use our compressed air more wisely.

If you have homemade air knives, pipe with drilled holes or manifolds with multiple nozzles, you are in a position to play the hero and save your company compressed air and money. 

Implementing a design which uses the free air surrounding us all, is a significant feature making the Super Air Knife efficient. This is done by utilizing entrainment to move the surrounding ambient air and amplify the blast of compressed air.

Diagram showing how the Super Air Knife works

Air Entrainment is the phenomenon that occurs when air/gas under pressure is released from a device in such a way that a low pressure is generated in the immediate area of the gas discharge.  Gas from the surrounding environment is then pulled into the discharged air stream, increasing its volumetric flow rate. Using this principle, a Super Air Knife increases the air flow without increasing the amount of compressed air used.

This phenomenon is prevalent in many of EXAIR’s products but shines the brightest with EXAIR’s Super Air Knife. The Super Air Knife Sports the highest entrainment ratio out of all of the products with a whopping 40:1 ratio, this makes for a very efficient use of compressed air. With an air consumption of only 2.9 SCFM per inch of air curtain at 80 psig then the air knife would be moving 116 SCFM per inch of air curtain. That’s a lot of air!

Also the fact that entraining ambient air is just moving the ambient air with the energy within compressed air makes process is extremely quiet. This is because the outer layers of the total developed flow are lower in velocity, and serve as a sound-attenuating boundary layer.  The sound level of a Super Air Knife at any length is only 69dBA.  That’s about as loud as someone talking at normal speech 3’ away from you.

Entrainment demonstration using a Super Air Knife

If you have any questions about compressed air systems or want more information on any of EXAIR’s products, give us a call, we have a team of Application Engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Super Air Knives Blast Away the Competition

When a wide area is in need of cleaning, cooling, or drying there isn’t a better option available on the market than EXAIR’s Super Air Knife. It’s laminar and even airflow across the length has solved process problems and provided manufacturing solutions for thousands of customers. We’ve been manufacturing Air Knives for over 30 years now, with the Super Air Knife making its first appearance back in 1997. Since then, the Super Air Knife has undergone a few enhancements over the years as we’re constantly trying to not only introduce new products but also improve on the ones we have. We’ve added new materials, longer single piece knives, as well as additional accessories.

What sets EXAIR’s Super Air Knife above the competition is the ability to maintain a consistent laminar flow across the full length of the knife, particularly when compared against blower operated knives or even fans. A fan “slaps” the air, resulting in a turbulent airflow where the airflow particles are irregular and will interfere with each other. A laminar airflow, by contrast, will maintain smooth paths that will never interfere with one another.

Blower Style air knife

Blower knives are commonly seen in industry that also cannot provide a laminar airflow. Additionally, they are expensive to purchase, produce a high sound level, and require periodic maintenance. Costly maintenance that results to downtime, as well as the physical space the system takes on the shop floor are all eliminated when using the Super Air Knife.

One of the simplest alternatives to the Super Air Knife is a homemade drilled pipe. While it’s quite easy to put together with materials that are likely already available to you, the true hidden cost here is the operating cost. The high energy use related to the total compressed air consumption makes this “seemingly economic” solution into an expensive one quickly. Not to mention, these devices are not considered to be safe per OSHA 1910.242(b).

The effectiveness of a laminar airflow vs turbulent airflow is particularly evident in the case of a cooling application. The chart below shows the time to cool computers to ambient temperatures for an automotive electronics manufacturer. They used a total of (32) 6” axial fans, (16) across the top and (16) across the bottom as the computers traveled along a conveyor. The computers needed to be cooled down before they could begin the testing process. By replacing the fans with just (3) Model 110012 Super Air Knives at a pressure of just 40 psig, the fans were cooled from 194°F down to 81° in just 90 seconds. The fans, even after 300 seconds still couldn’t remove enough heat to allow them to test.

While the fans no doubt made for large volume air movement, the laminar flow of the Super Air Knife resulted in a much faster heat transfer rate.

Utilizing a laminar airflow is also critical when the airflow is being used to carry static eliminating ions further to the surface. Static charges can be both positive or negative. In order to eliminate them, we need to deliver an ion of the opposite charge to neutralize it. Since opposite charges attract, having a product that produces a laminar airflow to carry the ions makes the net effect much more effective. As you can see from the graphic above showing a turbulent airflow pattern vs a laminar one, a turbulent airflow is going to cause these ions to come into contact with one another. This neutralizes them before they’re even delivered to the surface needing to be treated. With a product such as the Super Ion Air Knife, we’re using a laminar airflow pattern to deliver the positive and negative ions. Since the flow is laminar, the total quantity of ions that we’re able to deliver to the surface of the material becomes greater. This allows the charge to be neutralized quickly, rather than having to sit and “dwell” under the ionized airflow.

With lengths from 3”-108” and (4) four different materials all available from stock, EXAIR has the right Super Air Knife for your application. In addition to shipping from stock, it’ll also come with our unconditional 30-day guarantee. Test one out for yourself to see just how effective the Super Air Knife is on a wide variety of cooling, cleaning, or drying applications.

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