A Brief History of Compressed Air

So where exactly did compressed air come from? How did it become so widely used and where will it go? Both of these are great questions and the answers lie below.

Compressed air can be traced all the way back to the classic bellows that were used to fuel blacksmith fires and forges.  These started as hand pumped bellows, they then scaled up to foot pumped, multiple person pumped, oxen or horse driven and then eventually waterwheel driven.  All of these methods came about due to the demand for more and more compressed air. These bellows did not generate near the amount of air pressure or volume needed for modern day practices yet they worked in the times.  These early bellows pumps would even supply miners with air.

With the evolution of metallurgy and industry these bellows were replaced by wheel driven fans, then steam came about and began generating more industrial sources of power.  The main issue with steam was that it would lose its power over longer runs of pipe due to condensing in the pipes.  Thus the birth of the air compressor was born. One of the largest projects that is noted to first use compressed air was in 1861 during the build of the Mont Cenis Tunnel in Switzerland in which they used compressed air machinery.  From here the constant need and evolution for on-demand compressed air expanded.  The picture below showcases two air compressors from 1896.

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Air Compressors from the old days.

The compressors evolved over time from single stage, to two-stage reciprocating, on to compound, rotary-screw compressors, rotary vane, scroll, turbo, and centrifugal compressors with variable frequency drives.  The efficiency of each evolution has continued to increase.  More output for the same amount of input.  Now we see a two-stage compressor, considered old technology, and wonder how the company can get any work done.

All of the technological advances in compressor technology were driven by the demand sides of the compressed air systems.  Companies needed to power more, go further, get more from less, ultimately increase production.  With this constant increase in demand, the supply of compressed air increased and more efficient products for using compressed air began to evolve so the air was used more efficiently.

Enter EXAIR, we evolved the blowoff to meet the increasing demands of industrial companies to get the same amount of work done with less compressed air. We have continually evolved our product offering since 1983.  It all started with just a few typed pages of part numbers and has evolved to a 208 page catalog offering of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® for industry.  We will also continue to evolve our product designs for continued improvement of compressed air usage.  This is all to better help companies retain their resources.

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EXAIR Catalog 32

If your company uses compressed air and you aren’t sure if it is efficiently being utilized, contact an Application Engineer.  Thanks for joining us for the brief history lesson, we look forward to hearing from you and seeing what the future brings.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
@EXAIR_BF BrianFarno@EXAIR.com

 

Compressed air (1896) (14594022618).jpg – Wikimedia Commons – Internet Archive Book Images – Link

 

EXAIR Standard Air Knife: Engineered For Performance

In 1983, EXAIR Corporation was founded with the goal of engineering & manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry.  By 1988, the EXAIR-Knife (now known as the Standard Air Knife) was quickly becoming the preferred choice for replacing loud and inefficient drilled pipes, long nozzle manifolds…anywhere an even, high velocity curtain of air was required.

The EXAIR Standard Air Knife’s design takes advantage of a fascinating principle of fluidics to achieve quiet and efficient operation: the Coanda Effect, which is the tendency of a fluid jet to stay attached to a convex surface.  If you want to see it for yourself, hold the back of a spoon, handle up, under the kitchen faucet.  Those who haven’t seen it before may assume that gravity will take over and the water will fall from the bottom of the spoon’s ‘bowl’ – but it doesn’t:

Likewise, the air flow (which is just another example of a fluid jet) exiting the Standard Air Knife’s shim gap follows a convex surface (which we call the “Coanda profile”) causing it to entrain large amounts of air from the surrounding environment:

Compressed air flows through the inlet (1) to the Standard 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 optimize entrainment of air (4) from the surrounding environment.

This entrainment does two things for us:

  • First, because we’ve engineered the design for maximum entrainment, it’s very efficient – creating a high flow rate, while minimizing air consumption.  In the case of the Standard Air Knife, the entrainment ratio is 30:1.
  • Secondly, this entrainment forms an attenuating boundary layer for the air flow, resulting in a high velocity, high volume airflow that is also incredibly quiet.

The EXAIR Standard Air Knife comes in lengths from 3″ to 48″, and in aluminum or 303SS construction.  All sizes, in both materials, are on the shelf and available for immediate shipment.  For most applications, we recommend the Kit, which includes a Shim Set (to make gross changes to flow & force,) an Automatic Drain Filter Separator (keeps the air clean & moisture free,) and a Pressure Regulator (to dial in the performance.)  Deluxe Kits add our Universal Air Knife Mounting System and EFC Electronic Flow Control.

(From left to right) Aluminum Standard Air Knife Kit, SS Standard Air Knife Kit, Deluxe Aluminum Standard Air Knife Kit, Deluxe SS Standard Air Knife Kit.

If you need a hard hitting curtain of air for blow off, drying, cleaning, cooling, environmental separation, etc., the EXAIR Standard Air Knife is an easy and economical solution.  If you’d like to discuss your application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Watch EXAIR Webinars On-Demand

That’s right, just like your local cable or satellite TV provider, EXAIR offers On-Demand content that can be streamed and used for training, education, help with cost justification, or improve awareness around compressed air costs and safety.

The best part about this content is that you don’t have to pay for it, simply register on our website (where your information is not shared) and go to the Webinars section of our Knowledge Base.  Then gain access to the library of five webinars that have all been broadcast around compressed air safety, efficiency, and optimization.

EXAIR.com – Webinars On-Deman

The current On-Demand offering is listed below:

Intelligent Compressed Air Solutions for OSHA Compliance
Intelligent Solutions for Electrical Enclosure Cooling
Optimize Your Compressed Air System in 6 Simple Steps
Simple Steps for Big Savings
Understanding Static Electricity

The most recent webinar we created is currently only On-Demand for registered attendees and will soon be added to the Knowledge Base library.  If you did not get to see it live, the content was extremely helpful for anyone that works within a facility that uses compressed air.  Use This Not That – 4 Common Ways To Save Compressed Air In Your Plant, keep an eye out for the release date in our On-Demand section.

If you would like to discuss any of the webinar topics further, please feel free to reach out to an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Unique Nozzle Application Eliminates Procedure for Tobacco Processing Facility

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I recently worked on a unique application for EXAIR’s Back Blow Nozzle. Generally, these products are used to clean out chips, debris, and coolant from the ID of pipes or tubes. With (3) different sizes available to clean out IDs ranging from ¼”-16” it’s the ideal solution for cleaning out pipes where blowing forward into the pipe won’t work. They’re also available on the end of a Safety Air Gun with extensions up to 72” long, allowing you to get to hard to reach areas.

This particular application, however, was slightly different. The customer has a large machine that rotates a large drum to dry the tobacco, much like a standard clothes dryer. Inside of this drum is a “spray boom” with an angled top designed to prevent the tobacco from settling and sticking in large quantities. At the end of this “spray boom” are Atomizing Nozzles used to apply a cleaning solution after each drying process is completed at the end of the shift.  Unfortunately, the angled design didn’t work quite as well as they’d intended.

The customer needed a solution that could periodically clean off the boom while the drying was in operation. It wasn’t reasonable to do this at the end of the drying process once the majority of material had passed through. The accumulated tobacco on the boom was perfectly usable product and anything stuck after the cleaning operation would have to be thrown out as waste. In order to clean the boom and allow the stuck tobacco to remain as usable product, we needed an automated solution.

The customer installed (4) of the 1006SS Back Blow Nozzles situated around the boom to remove any stuck-on product during the drying process. The results spoke for themselves, at 90 PSIG it removed a 14” wide radius of material from the surface. By implementing the Back Blow Nozzle they were able to reduce waste and eliminate a daily 1-hour long cleaning process to remove stuck on material from the boom.

Just because it’s an outside-the-box application for one of our products, doesn’t mean it won’t work!! With EXAIR’s Unconditional 30-Day Guarantee, you can test any of our stock products out before committing to keep them. Reach out to an Application Engineer today if you have a unique application you’d like to discuss!

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

OSHA Safety Standards for Compressed Air

Safety should always be a serious concern within industrial environments.  Walk through any production facility and you should see all kinds of steps taken to give a safe workplace to the operators, contractors, and other team members.  Whether this is through a sign showing PPE required to enter an area, an emergency exit sign, a safe walkway, or machine guards.  Safety has become a standard that should never be lowered and there is good reason for that.

EXAIR designs all of our products to be safe and they meet or exceed OSHA standards that are directed toward compressed air safety.  The first is to ensure that an operator or maintenance worker will not be injured through air impinging their skin should they come into contact with an EXAIR product.   This OSHA standard is 29 CFR1910.242(b) claiming that all point of use compressed air products must be regulated to have less than 30 psig of dead end pressure.   This directive is critical for worker safety and the way many blowoffs skirt by is to cross drill holes in the end of the blowoff.

Cross drilled holes may satisfy the dead end pressure standard but it does not address OSHA’s next important compressed air standard about noise exposure, OSHA standard 29CFR1910.95(a).  The allowable noise level standard combined with 30 psig dead end pressure will render many home made or retail nozzles near useless because few, if any, meet both standards.  Again, EXAIR has engineered and designed our Super Air Nozzles to permit 80 psig inlet pressure and still meet or exceed both of these OSHA standards so that the work can still be done by the operators while remaining safe and retaining their hearing.

For a better explanation and demonstration of how our nozzles meet these standards please see the video below.

While I use nozzles and cross drilled pipes as examples within this blog these safety features are designed into every product that EXAIR offers.  This is due to the fact that OSHA, NIOSH, and the CDC do not delineate between a blow gun, blow off within a machine, or even a Cabinet Cooler System.  If the device is powered by compressed air then the two key OSHA standard are in effect due to the inherit dangers of compressed air.

I encourage you now to walk through your facility and try to listen or spot compressed air points of use within your facility.  Then, I ask you to call, chat, e-mail, or tweet an Application Engineer here at EXAIR and let us help you determine the most efficient and safest product to get the work done.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Next Level Customer Service

I recently spoke with a customer who is a casting / machining manufacturer.  They had an automated cell that was finish machining a feature on a cast aluminum part then placing it on a conveyor belt for an operator to pick up and continue processing.

The parts were placed 3 pieces wide per row and the conveyor would index with every three parts.   The operator would pick three pieces up and transfer them to another station during the machining time.  These parts were carrying residual machining coolant and debris onto the outbound conveyor.

The operator would blow them off with a handheld blow gun and all the coolant and chips would generally end up on the floor in the area causing a slip hazard.  The focus of the project is to eliminate the safety hazards and leave the parts as clean as possible for the inspection and further process.

The metal parts were positioned similar to the parts I placed in the mock up picture below.  The conveyor the customer has is an open mesh conveyor so the process will work better than if it was a solid belt like in the mock up.

The bulk of the concern from the customer was the outside of the part and they stated that anything to blow out the internal is a bonus.  The objective is to get as much coolant off as possible.   For that we recommended they span the conveyor with a Super Air Knife Kit to blow all the parts off at once.  This is mounted closely in the mock up because the customer had space restrictions.

The Super Air Knife Kit with Universal Air Knife Mounting System will firmly mount the knife over the parts and leave adjustment if needed.
The model 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzles with Stay Set Hoses of various lengths easily bend into place and hold their positioning for the side hole on each part.

Then, because the parts are always placed in the same location with the same orientation we can locate the ID hole with a Mini Super Air Nozzle on a Stay Set Hose of varying length to reach each set of parts as they come through.  Once I had the idea and the products in place I delivered the customer  a quote and dimensional CAD file for each part.

Another recommendation was to use a regulator and filter to control just the knife then operate the three nozzles off their own regulator and filter so that the forces between the two can be varied and the performance of the other is not effected.  Accompanying the models were installation sheets for each item as well.   Followed by the pictures of this mock up for their application.

Needless to say the customer was amazed that we would go to such lengths just to give them more assurance than our 30 day guarantee.  They were extremely thankful and are pleased we shipped from stock and met their installation window.

If you are looking for a creative solution, next level customer service, same day product availability, or just a nice human to talk to about compressed air, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Don’t Forget About Operating Cost: How To Calculate Return On Investment

If you have a stock portfolio, or even a retirement account, you’ve likely heard the term “return on investment.” It basically tells you how hard your money is working for you, and, the higher, the better.

The term is also used to determine the financial benefits associated with the use of more efficient products than you’re using right now:

  • The cost of operating industrial pumps, air compressors, and a variety of industrial rotating equipment, can be greatly reduced by using variable frequency drive systems that sense the demand and change the motor’s speed (and hence power consumption) accordingly.  These systems are not cheap, but the reduction in operating costs is often quite noticeable.
  • At home, installing energy efficient windows (spoiler alert: your builder probably used the cheapest ones he could find…mine sure did) or upgrading appliances & HVAC can cost a pretty penny, but you’ll also see your electric bill go down.

EXAIR Corporation has a worldwide reputation for providing highly efficient compressed air products for industry.  Our Engineering Department has a company-wide reputation for being data fanatics…which is key to allowing us to provide our customers with ample information to make the best choices to optimize your use of your compressed air.

It’s not hard at all to calculate your potential savings from the use of an engineered compressed air product, assuming you know how much air your current device is using.  If not, we can tell you if you can send it in for Efficiency Lab testing (free and fast; call me to find out more.)  Here’s an example for a VERY typical situation: replacing an open copper tube blow off with an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle:

  • A 1/4″ copper tube uses 33 SCFM @80psig
  • A Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle uses 14 SCFM @80psig

33 SCFM X 60 min/hour X 8 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/year = 4,118,400 SCF

14 SCFM X 60 min/hour X 8 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/year = 1,747,200 SCF

4,118,400 – 1,747,200 = 2,371,200 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air savings

If you know your facility’s cost of compressed air generation, you can calculate the monetary savings.  If not, we can get a good estimate via a thumbrule used by the U.S. Department of Energy that says it typically costs $0.25 to generate 1,000 SCF of compressed air:

2,371,200 SCF X $0.25 ÷ 1,000 SCF = $592.80 annual monetary savings

In 2019, the cost of a Model 1100 Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle is $41.00.  Daily savings (not counting weekends) is:

$592.80 ÷ 260 days (5 days/week X 52 weeks/year) = $2.28 daily savings

Meaning the payoff time for the $41.00 investment in the Model 1100 is:

$41.00 ÷ $2.28 = 17.9 days

Or…just over three weeks.  Now that I’ve shown you the math, I’d like to introduce you to the EXAIR Cost Savings Calculator.  Just enter the data, and it’ll check your math (because I know you’re going to do the math anyway, just like I would.)  It even does the ROI for you too.

Engineered solutions (like EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products) are the efficient, quiet, and safe choice. Does the one on the right look familiar?  It’s literally the example I used for the above calculations.

If you’d like to find out more about how – and how fast – EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can pay off for you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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