Traffic And Fluid Dynamics

Traffic

Earlier this morning I heard that a high speed chase that started in Michigan ended near Cincinnati, Ohio. My first thought was that, due to traffic, the chase became a jam.  Depending on the time of day, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to go anywhere, no matter how much you want it to happen (a circumstance many of us experience).

Similarly, when there is inadequate sizing of a compressed air line, no amount of desire is going to deliver the air where it needs to be.  Imagine every air molecule in the pipe is a car on the road.  When demand spikes and all those air molecules need to go to the same place, they have to have sufficient space to do so, just like vehicles on the road need enough lanes to prevent backup.  When the demand for compressed air reaches the maximum flow rate of the pipe, this is called saturation.  When the demand for compressed air exceeds this saturation point, end use items such as air nozzles or air tools are going to be starved for air.  The air might get there, but it will be late, and the earlier air molecules will be long spent, leading to underperformance of the item.

Unfortunately for those of us who fight traffic daily, fluid flow mechanics don’t apply to traffic flow.  But, fortunately for those of us who use compressed air as a utility, compressed air IS bound by fluid mechanics.  So, if we can quantify the compressed air demand in a system, we can design the system with enough capacity and volume capability to perform as needed.

EXAIR Application Engineers are well versed in helping our customers determine line sizes and providing support for our products on their systems.  If you need help with an EXAIR product and how it integrates into your compressed air system, contact an Application Engineer.

If only we could call city engineers to help with traffic…

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR
@EXAIR_LE