How to Manage Condensate in Your Compressed Air System

If you operate an air compressor, you’re drawing water vapor into your compressed air system.  Factors like climate control (or lack thereof,) and humidity will dictate how much.  If (or more to the point, when) it condenses, it becomes an issue that must be addressed.  There are several types of dryer systems to choose from, usually when you buy your compressor…we’ve covered those in a number of blogs.  Some of these can leave a little more water vapor than others, but remain popular and effective, when considering the cost, and cost of operation, of the different types.

So, how do you handle the condensate that the dryer doesn’t remove?

  • Receivers, or storage tanks (like EXAIR Model 9500-60, shown to the right,) are commonly used for several reasons:
    • By providing an intermediate storage of compressed air close to the point of use, fluctuations across the system won’t adversely affect an application that needs a constant flow and pressure.
    • This also can keep the air compressor from cycling rapidly, which leads to wear & tear, and additional maintenance headaches.
    • When fitted with a condensate drain (more on those in a minute,) they can serve as a wet receiver.  Condensate collects in the bottom and is manually, or automatically emptied.
  • Condensate drains, while popularly installed on receivers, are oftentimes found throughout larger systems where the vapor is prone to condense (intercoolers, aftercoolers, filters and dryers) and where the condensation can be particularly problematic (drip legs or adjacent to points of use.) There are a couple of options to choose from, each with their own pros & cons:
    • Manual drains are self explanatory: they’re ball valves; cycled periodically by operators.  Pros: cheap & simple.  Cons: easy to blow down too often or for too long, which wastes compressed air.  It’s also just as easy to blow down not often enough, or not long enough, which doesn’t solve the condensate problem.
    • Timer drains are self explanatory too: they cycle when the timer tells them to. Pros: still fairly cheap, and no attention is required.  Cons: they’re going to open periodically (per the timer setting) whether there’s condensate or not.
    • Demand, or “zero loss” drains collect condensate until their reservoir is full, then they discharge the water.  Pros: “zero loss” means just that…they only actuate when condensate is present, and they stop before any compressed air gets out.  Cons: higher purchase price, more moving parts equals potential maintenance concerns.
  • The “last line of defense” (literally) is point-of-use condensate removal.  This is done with products like EXAIR Automatic Drain Filter Separators.  They’re installed close to compressed air operated devices & products, oftentimes just upstream of the pressure regulator and/or flow controls…the particulate filter protects against debris in these devices, and the centrifugal element “spins” any last remaining moisture from the compressed air flow before it gets used.
Good engineering practice calls for point of use filtration and moisture removal, such as that provided by EXAIR Filter Separators.

Efficient and safe use of your compressed air includes maintaining the quality of your compressed air.  If you’d like to find out more about how EXAIR Corporation can help you get the most out of your compressed air system, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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How to Install A Super Air Knife – From the Basic to the Creative

Occasionally, a caller will ask if we offer installation services for our products. They’re usually very pleased to learn that there’s not all that much to it.

Any of our Super Air Knives can use our Model 9060 Universal Air Knife Mounting Systems (shown below; one on a 12″, and four on a 108″ length) for easy installation and precise aiming.

The 9060 Universal Air Knife Mounting Systems are perfect for simple, fast installation and positioning.

Shorter lengths, like the Model 110006 6″ Aluminum Super Air Knife (below, left,) can be adequately supported by air supply piping.  We don’t recommend that with longer lengths (due to overhung load concerns) but even a Model 110018 18″ Aluminum Super Air Knife (below, middle,) can be supported by the supply pipe in a vertical position.  We even stock our 3″ Aluminum Super Air Knives with Stay Set Hoses & Magnetic Bases (below, right.)

Just a few more popular ways to install a Super Air Knife.

The Super Air Knife also has a series of 1/4″-20 tapped holes, 2″ apart, along the bottom of the body.  These are often used for installation & mounting as well, and we’ve seen some creative methods, for sure:

Yes, that’s a door hinge. No, it wasn’t my idea, but I kind of wish it was.

EXAIR Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet long.  We stock them in aluminum, 303SS, 316SS, and PVDF.  If you need a custom length or material, though, we do those too.  We can even talk about the best way to mount it.  Call me.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Durable, Versatile, and Efficient – EXAIR Soft Grip Safety Air Gun

As compressed air technology advanced through the 20th Century, its uses multiplied.  Pneumatic cylinders became common for rolling and forming presses.  The convenience and portability of powerful pneumatic hand held tools spread in assembly and manufacturing facilities.  Along the way, operators also found that an open-ended compressed air line could be used for quick and easy blow off in a number of applications. There were, however, some pretty risky safety issues associated with this.

In December of 1970, the Occupational Safety & Health Act became the law of the land, and in 1971, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) was created.  Among the many hazards in workplaces they targeted was compressed air use for cleaning.  The primary concerns were:

  • An open ended blow off could inadvertently be dead ended onto a person’s body, and if the pressure were high enough, it could break the skin and cause a deadly condition called an air embolism.  So they limited the outlet pressure to 30psi.
  • Blowing something off with air can (and usually does) result in airborne particulate traveling at a high velocity that can imbed in your skin or in your eye.  So they mandated the use of proper chip guarding, protective clothing, and eye protection.

This is where the history of the safety air gun begins.  Through the 1970’s & 1980’s, engineers rolled out product after product conforming with these new safety standards, sometimes looking for economy, sometimes efficiency…and occasionally, both.

It’s not hard to make a blow off nozzle that complies with OSHA’s dead end pressure requirement; you just need to provide a path for the air to escape in case the nozzle end is blocked.  Cross drilled nozzles (shown at right) are simple, cheap, and OSHA compliant, but they’re also loud & inefficient.

EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles not only protect against injury from dead ended high pressure air, their engineered design also makes them quiet, and efficient.  They are commonly installed on the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun.  Along with our Chip Shields (shown at right) and your personal protective equipment, you get OSHA compliance, AND lower air consumption & noise levels.

With the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, you also get a diverse range of options to suit the specific needs of numerous applications:

If you’re looking for a hand held blow off device, your choices are many.  If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient, safe, and versatile one, your choice is easy:  the EXAIR Soft Grip Safety Air GunCall me and we’ll figure out which one you need.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Compressed Air Efficiency – How It Benefits Business

It is estimated that typically plants can waste up to 30 percent of their generated compressed air and that cost is substantial.  Considering the average cost to generate compressed air here in the Midwest is .25 cents per 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet, that translates into .075 cents for every .25 cents spent!  Compounded with the fact that energy costs have doubled in the last five years, it couldn’t be a better time to make your air compressor system more efficient.

efficiencylab

The following steps will help you save air and in turn save money.

  1. Measure the air consumption to find sources that use a lot of compressed air.

Knowing where you stand with your compressed air demand is important to be able to quantify the savings once you begin to implement a compressed air optimization program. Placing a value upon your compressed air consumption will also allow you to place a value on its costs and the savings you will reap once you start to reduce your consumption. (EXAIR’s Digital Flow Meter)

9093ZG-DG

  1. Find and fix the leaks in your compressed air system.

Not fixing your compressed air system leaks can cause your system pressure to fluctuate and affect your equipment negatively. It may cause you to run a larger compressor than necessary for your compressed air needs and raise your total costs. Or it could cause your cycle and run times to increase which leads to increased maintenance to the entire system. (EXAIR’s Ultrasonic Leak Detector)

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  1. Upgrade your blow off, cooling and drying operations using engineered compressed air products.

Your ordinary nozzle with a through hole and a cross drilled hole can be an easy choice based upon price, but if you do not consider the operating cost you do not really know how much it is costing you. An Engineered Air Nozzle will pay for itself and lower operating costs quickly. Engineered Air Nozzles are the future of compressed air efficiency and are made to replace ordinary nozzles, homemade nozzles and open line blow offs. Engineered Nozzles reduce air consumption and noise levels; ordinary nozzles cannot compete. Engineered Nozzles maintain safety features and can qualify for an energy savings rebate from a local utility; ordinary nozzles fall short. Open blow off or homemade blow off applications typically violate OSHA safety standards; Engineered Nozzles do not.  (EXAIR’s Air Nozzles)

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EXAIR Nozzles
  1. Turn off the compressed air when it is not in use.

Automated solutions add solenoid valves and run them from your machine controls. If the machine is off, or the conveyor has stopped – close the solenoid valve and save the air.  And blow off applications can benefit from any space in between parts by turning the air off during the gaps with the aid of a sensor and solenoid. (EXAIR’s automated  Electronic Flow Control)

 

  1. Use intermediate storage of compressed air near the point of use.

Also known as secondary receivers, intermediate air storage is especially effective when a system has shifting demands or large volume use in a specific area. Intermediate storage is the buffer between a large demand event and the output of your compressor. The buffer created by intermediate storage (secondary receiver) prevents pressure fluctuations which may impact other end use operations and affect your end product quality. (EXAIR’s Receiver Tanks)

  1. Control the air pressure at the point of use to minimize air consumption.

This is a very simple and easy process, all it requires is a pressure regulator. Installing a pressure regulator at all of your point of use applications will allow you to lower the pressure of these applications to the lowest pressure possible for success. Lowering the pressure of the application also lowers the air consumption. And it naturally follows that lower air consumption equals energy savings. (EXAIR’s Pressure Regulators)

By increasing your awareness of the health of your air compressor system and implementing a PM program you can significantly reduce your costs from wasted energy and avoid costly down time from an out of service air compressor.

If you would like to discuss improving your compressed air efficiency or any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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What’s So Great About The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun?

Well, for one thing, it’s won ANOTHER award…in addition to the 2018 Plant Engineering Product of the Year (Silver Award, Compressed Air Category) for 2018, it’s now won the 2019 Industrial Safety & Hygiene Reader’s Choice Award.

But we didn’t need awards to tell us how great they are.  EXAIR Corporation has 35 years of continuously improving experience in the design, engineering, and manufacture of quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry.  The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Guns are just another innovation that’s come to fruition, courtesy of the knowledge, experience, and dedication to quality from our R&D Engineering & Production departments.

Whatever your needs are, EXAIR has a Safety Air Gun for you.

But you don’t have to take OUR word for it: a satisfied customer base has proven the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun‘s success:  We offer a 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee on any catalog product.  That means you can put it through its paces for up to a month…if it’s not going to work out, for any reason, we’ll arrange return for full credit.  Of the dozens of VariBlast Safety Air Guns we’ve sold every month for the last two years or so, we have not had one returned.  Not. One.  To which I say: no wonder…check it out:

If you’re looking for an economical, efficient, quiet, variable flow, handheld blow off solution, look no further than the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun…just another award winning Intelligent Compressed Air Product, brought to you by EXAIR.  To the readers of Industrial Safety & Hygiene Magazine…thanks for noticing!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Six Steps to Optimization: Step 6 – Control the Air Pressure at the Point of Use to Minimize Air Consumption

Since air compressors use a lot of electricity to make compressed air, it is important to use the compressed air as efficiently as possible.  EXAIR has six simple steps to optimize your compressed air system.  Following these steps will help you to cut your production costs and improve your bottom line.  In this blog, I will cover the sixth step; controlling the air pressure at the point of use.

Regulators

One of the most common pressure control devices is called the Regulator.  It is designed to reduce the downstream pressure that is supplying your system.  Regulators are commonly used in many types of applications.  You see them attached to propane tanks, gas cylinders, and of course, compressed air lines.  Properly sized, regulators can flow the required amount of gas at a regulated pressure for safety and cost savings.

EXAIR designs and manufactures compressed air products to be safe, effective, and efficient.  By replacing your “old types” of blowing devices with EXAIR products, it will save you much compressed air, which in turn saves you money.  But, why stop there?  You can optimize your compressed air system even more by assessing the air pressure at the point-of-use.  For optimization, using the least amount of air pressure to “do the job” can be very beneficial.

1100 Super Air Nozzles

Why are regulators important for compressed air systems?  Because it gives you the control to set the operating pressure.  For many blow-off applications, people tend to overuse their compressed air.  This can create excessive waste, stress on your air compressor, and steal from other pneumatic processes.  By simply turning down the air pressure, less compressed air is used.  As an example, a model 1100 Super Air Nozzle uses 14 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar).  If you only need 50 PSIG (3.4 bar) to satisfy the blow-off requirement, then the air flow for the model 1100 drops to 9.5 SCFM.  You are now able to add that 4.5 SCFM back into the compressed air system. And, if you have many blow-off devices, you can see how this can really add up.

In following the Six Steps to optimize your compressed air system, you can reduce your energy consumption, improve pneumatic efficiencies, and save yourself money.  I explained one of the six steps in this blog by controlling the air pressure at the point of use.  Just as a note, reducing the pressure from 100 PSIG (7 bar) to 80 PSIG (5.5 bar) will cut your energy usage by almost 20%.  If you would like to review the details of any of the six steps, you can find them in our EXAIR blogs or contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Compressed Air – The Fourth Utility

Industrial use of compressed air dates to the middle of the 19th century.  European engineers developed & used compressed air operated drills in the construction of the Mont Cenis Tunnel in 1861.  This type of machinery had typically been steam-powered, but you needed a fire to boil the water.  Since steam loses energy when piped over long distances, that means you’d need a fire in the tunnel shaft, and that’s not good for the miners.  Electric powered products were not a viable option…they weren’t developed to the scale needed for this, and generation & distribution were not up to the task back then.

Compressed air made the most sense, because it COULD be generated locally, outside the shaft, and plumbed in to the tools without energy loss (much of the energy from steam is lost when it condenses…and compressed air doesn’t condense.)  The Mont Cenis Tunnel project was a big deal in the advancement of industrial compressed air applications.  It was originally estimated to take 25 years, but, largely due to the success of the air operated drills, it was completed in only 14 years.  This got the attention of mining industry folks in America, where coal mining was growing exponentially in the late 1800’s.

The need for bigger & better machinery and tools kept pace with the growth in industry overall throughout this time, and even to the present day.  As the distribution grid spread to just about everywhere, electricity became the principal method of providing power.  Natural gas remains popular for especially large machinery, heating, and, in fact, for electric power generation.

Water has always been key to just about any human endeavor, from agriculture, to chemical production, to cleaning…which is universal to any industry.  Like electricity and natural gas, its distribution grid was also vital to industrial growth & production.

As the “fourth utility,” as it’s become known, compressed air is unique in that it’s customarily generated on site.  This gives control to the consumer, which is great, because they can decide how much they want to make, based on how much they want to use.  And, because many applications that can use compressed air can also be addressed through other means (more on that in a minute,) the powers-that-be can decide which one makes the most sense, big-picture-wise.

Here are some common industrial applications that can be handled pneumatically, or otherwise:

  • EXAIR is the industry leader in point-of-use compressed air product applications. Try us, you’ll see.

    Moving product from one place to another: air operated conveyors (like EXAIR Line Vacs) or electric powered belt/auger/bucket conveyors.

  • Force and motion: pneumatic, or hydraulic cylinders.
  • Cleaning: Compressed air blow off devices (like EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products) or electric powered blowers…or brooms, brushes, and dustpans.
  • Rotary or impact tools: pneumatic or electric.
  • Cooling: Compressed air operated Vortex Tubes, or refrigerant based chillers, or chilled water.

The fact that there are four major utilities proves that there’s usually more than one solution to an application.  The challenge is, which one makes the most sense?  If you need help with data or recommendations from a compressed air industry expert, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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