Choosing the Right Vortex Tube – Max Refrigeration vs. Max Cold Temperature

The Vortex Tube is a low cost, reliable, maintenance free way to provide cooling to a wide variety of industrial spot cooling problems.

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There are two (2) popular uses for the Vortex Tubes.  One is to spot cool a warm item as fast as possible.  The other is to chill an item to as low a temperature as possible. Because these are very different requirements, different Vortex Tube configurations exist to handle each.

For those applications of spot cooling, we recommend the 3200 series of Vortex Tubes. They are designed to be most efficient at providing maximum refrigeration, which is a function of high cold air flow rate and moderate temperature differential of the cold air to the warm item.

And for those applications of chilling an item to a very low temperature at low flow rate , we recommend the 3400 series of Vortex Tubes.  They are designed to be most efficient at providing maximum cold air temperatures, but with a lower cold air flow rate.

An important parameter for the Vortex Tubes is the Cold Fraction.  By adjusting the hot valve on a vortex tube, the amount of air that is discharged through the cold end changes. When expressed as a percentage of the total compressed air that is supplied to the vortex tube, we get the Cold Fraction.  For example, if the hot valve is adjusted so that for every 10 parts of compressed air supplied, we get 7 parts of cold air, then we have a 70% Cold Fraction. When you know the Cold fraction setting and the compressed air supply pressure, you can use the Vortex Tube Performance tables and get the cold air discharge temperature.

Using the table below left, at 100 PSIG compressed air pressure and a 70% Cold Fraction, we can expect the cold air discharge temperature drop to be 71°F.  With 70 ° compressed air temperature, the cold air will be at -1°F.

Vortex Tube Charts
Vortex Tube Performance Tables

The 3200 series of Vortex Tubes are for use in the 50-80% Cold Fraction range, and the model 3400 series is designed for use in the 20-50% Cold Fraction ranges, to maximize the performance of each.

In summary, the selection of the Vortex Tube that best meets the application needs is based on the desired cold air flow rate, and the temperature of air desired. Once these are known, using the tables can provide the information needed to select the best option.

For those applications where we are unsure what will work best, we offer the EXAIR Cooling Kits, that include a Vortex Tube (small, medium, or large) and an array of Generators, to allow the configuration of the full range of Vortex Tubes within each size family.

  • Model 3908 – Small Vortex Tube Cooling Kit – build models 3202, 3204, 3208, and 3402, 3404, 3408
  • Model 3930 – Medium Vortex Tube Cooling Kit – build models 3210, 3215, 3225, 3230, 3240, and 3410, 3415, 3425, 3430, 3440
  • Model 3998 – Large Vortex Tube Cooling Kit – build models 3250, 3275, 3298, 3299, and models 3450, 3475, 3498, 3499

3930

If you have questions about Vortex Tubes or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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Vortex Tube Overview

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A Vortex Tube uses an ordinary supply of compressed air as a power source, creating two streams of air, one hot and one cold – resulting in a low cost, reliable, maintenance free source of cold air for spot cooling solutions.

The EXAIR Vortex tubes are made of stainless steel, which provides resistance to wear, corrosion and oxidation – ensuring years of reliable, maintenance free operation

How_A_Vortex_Tube_Works

The cold air flow and temperature are easily controlled by adjusting the slotted valve in the hot air outlet.  Opening the valve reduces the cold air flow and the cold air temperature.  Closing the valve increases the cold air flow and and the cold air temperature.

EXAIR Vortex Tubes come in three sizes. Within each size, a number of flow rates, which are dictated by a small internal generator, are available. Selection of the appropriate Vortex Tube can be achieved either by knowing the BTU/hr (Kcal/hr) requirements or the desired flow and temperature requirements. Selection is then based on the specification table (BTU/hr or Kcal/hr is known) or the performance tables (flow and temperature is known.)

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Vortex Tube Specification Tables

 

Cold Fraction
Vortex Tube Performance Tables

The performance of a Vortex Tube is reduced with back pressure on the cold air exhaust. Low back pressures up to 2 PSIG ( 0.1 Bar) will not change performance and a 5 PSIG (0.3 Bar) will change the temperature drop by approximately 5°F (2.8°C)

The use of clean air is essential, and filtration of 25 microns or less is recommended.  EXAIR offers filters with 5 micron elements and properly sized for flow.

A Vortex Tube provides a temperature drop to the incoming supply air.  High inlet temperatures will result in a corresponding rise in the cold air temperature.

EXAIR offers mufflers for both the hot and cold air discharge.  If the cold air is ducted, muffling may not be required.

For best performance, operation at 80 to 110 PSIG (5.5 to 7.6 Bar) of supply pressure is recommended. The Vortex Tubes have a maximum pressure rating of 250 PSIG (17.2 Bar) and a minimum requirement of 20 PSIG (1.4 Bar)

To discuss your application and how a Vortex Tube or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can improve your process, feel free to contact EXAIR, myself, or one of our other Application Engineers. We can help you determine the best solution!

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Cool Small Parts and Tools, with Clean, Cold Air

Do you need a proven way to reduce downtime and increase productivity on a variety of operations involving small parts where heat is a problem?  EXAIR‘s Mini Cooler produces a stream of 20°F (-7°C) cold air to prevent heat build up and blow away chips and debris.

Especially effective on high speed operations, the Mini Cooler helps to prevent burning, melting, and heat related breakage, and while doing so, at a quiet 76 dBA sound level. Better yet, all done with no moving parts to wear out.

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Mini Cooler Cooling a Small Mill Operation

Some popular applications for the Mini Cooler are – small tool cooling, needle cooling, blade cooling, and lens grinding.

There are several advantages to take note of – low cost, increased production rates, better tolerances, and quiet and compact.

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The Mini Cooler Systems are available with One or Two Cold Outlets, and also include a 1″ wide Flare Nozzle Tip, and a Manual Drain Air Filter to clean the air, ensuring long, trouble free operation.

Using just 8 SCFM of 100 PSIG compressed air, the Mini Cooler will not tax your compressed air system.  Its small size allows it to fit in areas where larger systems could not fit.  The powerful magnetic base sticks to any ferrous surface and and provides up to 100 pounds of pull force.

If you have any questions about the Mini Cooler, the Adjustable Spot Cooler, Cold Gun or any EXAIR compressed air product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Expand Flexibility of Cabinet Coolers with Side Mount Kits

Last week I wrote about the Thermostat Options for Smart Cooling utilizing the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems.  You can see read that blog post here.  Today we will touch base on the Side Mount Kits as an option to expand the flexibility for the installation and operation.

Sometimes there isn’t room above an electrical panel to fit the Cabinet Cooler, even though it takes just 5″ to 7.25″ of space above. In these cases, the Side Mount Kit is available to handle any of the Cabinet Cooler sizes and NEMA ratings. EXAIR offers (6) models of Side Mount Kits –

  • Model 4909 – For NEMA 12 Cabinet Coolers up to 550 BTU.hr (139 Kcal/hr), Aluminum construction
  • Model 4910 – For NEMA 12 Cabinet Coolers , 650 BTU//hr (165 Kcal/hr) and higher, Aluminum construction
  • Model 4906 – For NEMA 4 and 4X Cabinet Coolers up to 550 BTU/hr (139 Kcal/hr), Type 303 Stainless Steel
  • Model 4907 – For NEMA 4 and 4X Cabinet Coolers, 650 BTU/hr (165 Kcal/hr) and higher, Type 303 Stainless Steel
  • Model 4906-316 – For NEMA 4 and 4X Cabinet Coolers up to 550 BTU/hr (139 Kcal/hr), Type 316 Stainless Steel
  • Model 4907-316 – For NEMA 4 and 4X Cabinet Coolers, 650 BTU/hr (165 Kcal/hr) and higher, Type 316 Stainless Steel

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The NEMA 4 and 4X Cabinet Coolers must be mounted vertically for the unit to properly resist the ingress of liquids and maintain the integrity of the cabinet NEMA rating.

The Side Mount Kits install into a standard electrical knockout (1-1/2 NPS) for easy installation.

If you have any questions about the Side Mount Kits, Cabinet Coolers and/or Thermostat Options or any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System for Electrical Enclosure Cooling

If you watched the Webinar we hosted recently (if not, Watch It here) then you know that the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System is an intelligent solution for electrical enclosure cooling.  The use of a Thermostat Control system is a key component to a system that provides the needed cooling while keeping compressed air usage to a minimum. There are several choices available, and I will cover those for you today.

The thermostat control systems are the most effective way to operate a Cabinet Cooler. They work by activating the the cooler only when the internal temperature of the enclosure reaches a preset, critical level. Thermostat controlled cooler systems are the best option when a cabinet will experience fluctuating heat loads, caused by operational, environmental, and seasonal changes.

Cabinet Cooler Systems that are ordered from the factory with thermostat control include a solenoid valve and thermostat.  The solenoid valve is available in 110-120VAC, 50/60 Hz, 240VAC, 50/60 Hz, and 24VDC and is UL Listed and CE and RoHS compliant. The thermostat is rated for 24V-240V AC or DC, 50/60 Hz and is UL Recognized and CSA Certified.

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Solenoid Valves – 24 VDC, 110 VAC, and 240 VAC Available

 

The thermostat is factory set at 95°F (35°C). It will typically hold an internal cabinet temperature to +/- 2°F (1°C). The thermostat can be adjusted up or down if a different internal temperature is desired by turning the slotted temperature adjusting sleeve, with a 1/16 turn being approximately a 5°F change.

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Thermostat

 

The solenoid and thermostat components are rated to match and maintain the Cabinet Cooler System and cabinet NEMA rating, and can be NEMA 12, NEMA 4 or NEMA 4X. A Thermostat Control can be added to an existing Continuous Operation Cabinet Cooler System, please consult the factory for help in selecting the right kit.

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NEMA Type 4X Cabinet Cooler System, which includes the Solenoid Valve and Thermostat

If you have any questions about the Cabinet Coolers and Thermostat Options or any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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High Temperature Vortex Tube for Sensor Cooling

Last year I worked with a power company that was having issues with Position Feedback Sensors overheating causing erroneous readings and early failures.  The sensors were located above a steam turbine, and the ambient temperatures reached 128°F with spikes to 140-150°F.  The customer had called in looking for a way to keep the sensors cool, using minimal compressed air, and in a robust package.  After reviewing the details, we recommended the High Temperature Vortex Tube, model HT3210.  While using just 10 SCFM of 100 PSIG compressed air, the HT3210 provides 8 SCFM of cold air at a temperature drop of 54°F from the supply air temperature.  Bathing the sensor with this cool air keeps prevents it from heating up and has eliminated the bad readings and prevented the early failures.

The customer recently implemented the same fix for another set of sensors.

Plant Photo
Power Generation Process, with (3) Position Feedback Sensors
Sensor
Position Feedback Sensor

The High Temperature Vortex Tube is a special Vortex Tube offering from EXAIR that utilizes a brass generator and hi-temp seal for use in ambient temperatures up to 200°F.  Simply supply clean, dry compressed air, and get cold air starting at 50-54°F lower than the supply air temperature.  With sizes ranging from 2 to 150 SCFM, there is a Vortex Tube that will meet most applications.

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High Temperature Vortex Tube

If you have questions about the Vortex Tubes, or would like to talk about any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Video Blog: Medium Vortex Tube Cooling Kit

EXAIR offers (3) Vortex Tube Cooling Kits, and the video below will provide an overview of the medium size offering, for refrigeration up to 2800 BTU/hr (706 Kcal/hr.)

If you have questions regarding Vortex Tube Cooling Kits or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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