What’s The Big Deal About Clean Air?

Compressed air isn’t called manufacturing’s “Fourth Utility” (the first three being electricity, water, and natural gas) for nothing. Pneumatic tools are popular because they’re often so much lighter than their electric counterparts. Compressed air can be stored in receiver tanks for use when other power supplies are unavailable or not feasible. Many compressed air operated products can be made to withstand environmental factors (high/low temperature, corrosive elements, atmospheric dust, oil, other contaminants, etc.,) that would make electric devices very expensive, unwieldy, or impractical.

One of the most valuable considerations, though, is that your compressed air system is, by and large, under your control.  The type and capacity of your air compressor can be determined by your specific operational needs.  The header pressure in your supply lines is based on the applications that your air-operated devices are used for.  And the performance & lifespan of every single component in your compressed air system is determined by the care you take in maintaining it.

I covered the importance of compressed air system maintenance in a blog a while back…today, I want to focus on clean air.  And, like the title (hopefully) makes you think, it’s a REALLY big deal.  Consider the effects of the following:

Debris: solid particulates can enter your air system through the compressor intake, during maintenance, or if lines are undone and remade.  If you have moisture in your air (more on that in a minute,) that can promote corrosion inside your pipes, and rust can flake off in there.  Almost all of your air operated products have moving parts, tight passages, or both…debris is just plain bad for them.  And if you use air for blow off (cleaning, drying, etc.,) keep in mind that anything in your compressed air system will almost certainly get on your product.

Your compressed air system may be equipped with a main filter at the compressor discharge.  This is fine, but since there is indeed potential for downstream ingress (as mentioned above,) point-of-use filtration is good engineering practice.  EXAIR recommends particulate filtration to 5 microns for most of our products.

Water: moisture is almost always a product of condensation, but it can also be introduced through faulty maintenance, or by failure of the compressor’s drying or cooling systems.  Any way it happens, it’s also easy to combat with point-of-use filtration.

EXAIR includes an Automatic Drain Filter Separator in our product kits to address both of these concerns.  A particulate filter element traps solids, and a centrifugal element “spins” any moisture out, collecting it in the bowl, which is periodically drained (automatically, as the name implies) by a float.

Point of use filtration is key to the performance of your compressed air products, and their effectiveness. Regardless of your application, EXAIR has Filter Separators to meet most any need.

Oil: many pneumatic tools require oil for proper operation, so, instead of removing it, there’s going to be a dedicated lubricator, putting oil in the air on purpose.  Optimally, this will be as close to the tool as possible, because not all of your compressed air loads need oil…especially your blow offs.  If, however, a blow off device is installed downstream of a lubricator (perhaps due to convenience or necessity,) you’ll want to do something about that oil. Remember, anything in your system will get blown onto your product.

If this is the case, or you just want to have the cleanest air possible (keep in mind there is no downside to that,) consider an EXAIR Oil Removal Filter.  They come in a range of capacities, up to 310 SCFM (8,773 SLPM,) and the coalescing element also offers additional particulate filtration to 0.03 microns.

In closing, here’s a video that shows you, up close and personal, the difference that proper filtration can make:

If you’d like to discuss or debate (spoiler alert: I’ll win) the importance of clean air, and how EXAIR can help, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Outside Your Comfort Zone?

Over the past several months I have found myself more and more outside of my comfort zone throughout the day.  This feeling has been declining over the past few months, however, as the situations which cause discomfort seem to come up more and more every day so my comfort zone is constantly expanding. I like comfort zones, but also understand that being outside of them helps me to learn and gain new experience. I bring this up because I had a customer come in yesterday so they could be shown a demonstration of an EXAIR Super Air Knife.

Now, customers coming in is not a problem at all, I spoke with him last week and we discussed the application.  This time, it was outside of his comfort zone so he wanted to come in.  Well, when I got the call I had a visitor I grabbed a single business card and walk out to find that there were four gentlemen waiting to see me, not just one.  Still, not a problem. I showed them to our fully stocked demo room and we proceeded to discuss their application.  They were hoping to make the environment their employees work in a little cleaner.  They had new down draft work benches which had three sides on it.

The problem the team was having is that all their operators were using hand-held grinders to deburr parts as they were manufactured.   The downdraft table was added to help prevent the dust and debris from getting all over the operators, however it wasn’t working good enough.  So they started looking and found EXAIR Super Air Knives.  They didn’t believe that a Super Air Knife would move enough air and still be quiet enough to have an operator sitting at the station, so they drove down to our facility and I showed them all the benefits that a Super Air Knife has.  This was all based off a 6″ Aluminum Super Air Knife I had handy.  I then swapped the stock .002″ thick shim out with a .001″ thick shim.  They were amazed at how quiet the Super Air Knife was (with either shim) and how the flow of air was enough to disturb and direct dust but not over powering and blowing parts off the table. LSAN I could definitely see that they were impressed by the simplicity of working with the Super Air Knife and the performance it achieved. But alas, they were still trying to figure out how a 48″ would work, so I went straight out and got a 110048 off the shelf and hooked it up for them.  That was all that they needed in order to really get the wheels in their heads spinning into overdrive.   They all left with my contact information and catalogs in tow but I didn’t hear them stop talking about the possibilities until they were in the car.

The fact of the matter is that they were outside of their comfort zone and had no concept of how you could make compressed air blow in a laminar sheet to help contain dust in a down draft work bench.  Once they saw how easy the Super Air Knife was to hook up and mount they were instantly back into their comfort zone of making their employees happy and safe. If you have some applications using compressed air and you are well out of your zone, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF