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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Crank Up The Heat (and Static)

The outside temperature is beginning to drop which means the thermostat in my house is getting a workout. I don’t mind the colder temps but my wife on the other hand likes it pretty toasty during the winter months. I am usually downstairs in the living room, so I don’t feel the full effect of the increased heat but our house isn’t as fortunate. The majority of our house has hardwood floors so as the inside temperatures rise and the furnace brings in more of that dry outside air to heat up, it also dries out the hardwood which begins to separate and make a nice creaking sound. We started using humidifiers upstairs and on the main floor to replace some of the moisture lost due to the increased makeup air from the outside.

Another concern with dry air is it creates static electricity.  There are a ton of natural insulators in your house, like carpet or shoes with rubber soles just to name a few, that make it all too easy to build up a static charge and deliver a nice shock. Case in point, over the weekend I was downstairs working and asked our oldest son if he could help me out and get his baby brother out of the pack-n-play. Of course, without hesitation, (heavy sarcasm) he shuffled across the carpet and reached down for his brother, then ZAP! I actually heard the shock before the screams started! I quickly made the realization that I will soon be adding a third humidifier for downstairs as well!

Static electricity is a common nuisance in industrial settings also. It can lead to damaged product, shorting of electrical components, printing or labeling errors, spark generation or cause harmful shock to an operator. EXAIR offers a wide variety of Static Eliminators that are capable of neutralizing the surface static of a material or object to ensure proper operation in many manufacturing processes. For example, our Super Ion Air Knife is a great choice for printing/labeling applications or cleaning a web. With applications requiring more of a focused airflow, we offer our Ion Air Cannon or Ion Air Jet. The Ion Air Gun is the perfect choice for a manual, surface treatment. We also offer our Ionizing Bars and Ionizing Point for close proximity static elimination, where compressed air isn’t available.

An easy way to pinpoint the location and level of static is by using our Model # 7905 Digital Static Meter. The Digital Static Meter is a handheld, portable device that is capable of reading static within 1″ of the surface, up to  +/- 20 kV with 5% accuracy. Once the static has been located, we can then make the best recommendation for a Static Eliminator that will meet the application requirements.

Static Meter
Easy to use, Digital Static Meter to pinpoint static charge. Calibrated to NIST standards.

If static is a concern in any of your processes, or if you need help in making the best selection, please contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Winter Cold = Static Issues

Winter is fast approaching us here in Cincinnati, which can mean just about anything, temperature and weather wise. For instance, 2 years ago we had a very mild winter, with warmer than usual temperatures and very little snow. I can remember golfing in December, January and even in to February, which was awesome! But last year however was much different. We experienced a very harsh winter with extreme low temperatures (several -0°F days) and a steady amount of snowfall – I know I felt like I was shoveling the driveway and sidewalk about every 2 days! The weather was so bad that local schools ran out of snow days.

brrr
There’s no stopping winter’s cold, dry air from causing static problems – solve them with our static eliminators!

The lower temperatures mean turning up the heat on the thermostat, which is going to dry out the air. As a result of the dry air, a common problem is ESD (ElectroStatic Discharge) or static electricity. All of us at some point have probably brushed our feet on the carpet to build up a charge, then “reached out and touched someone” to give them a little jolt. While this may seem slightly humorous, the truth is, static electricity can be quite problematic.

Some common static issues:

  • Spark or shocks to personnel
  • Damage to sensitive electrical components
  • Jamming of machines
  • Particulate clinging to the surface of an object
  • Unable to separate sheets or product sticking together

EXAIR offers an extensive catalog of Static Eliminators to eliminate these common issues:

Ion Air Knives – Provides a laminar sheet of high velocity, ionized airflow. Available up to 108” single-piece lengths.

Ionizing Bars – Capable of eliminating surface static within 2” of the bar.

Super Ion Air Wipe – 360° uniform ionized airflow, ideal for ionizing extruded shapes, hose, pipe, cable etc.

Ion Air Cannon – Concentrated ionized airflow, effective up to 15 feet.

Ion Air Gun – Static eliminating, hand-held air gun, allowing easy operation.

Ion Air Jet – Static eliminating spot cleaner, available in permanent or flexible mounting.

Ionizing Point – Single point ionizer, delivering a high concentration of positive and negative ions.

We also offer our Model # 7905 Digital Static Meter, allowing you to pinpoint the source of the static. Capable of reading up to +/- 20 kV with 5% accuracy (+/-) when measured at a distance of 1”.

If you are experiencing a static issue with your process, please contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Brrr! image courtesy Neil Turner  Creative Commons License

Cold Dry Air of Winter

Today, we are getting one of the  larger snow storms for Cincinnati, OH.  Compared to cities north of Dayton, OH, we don’t get very much snow, but once or twice a year we get 4-5 inches and the drivers in this city go crazy.  You won’t see anyone on the freeways driving faster than 35 MPH, but you will see a few people spun out on the side of the road.  It reminds me that winter is here.  With the snow, winter also brings dry low-humidity air which increases the number of electrostatic discharge (ESD) occurrences. ESD is the proper term for a static electricity shock.  At EXAIR, we have an entire line of products that are designed to neutralize static on a surface or a product.  To neutralize the static, we use a 5kV power supply which supplies voltage through a sharp point (emitter point) on all of our products.   This high voltage generates positive and negative ions, which we then deliver to the charged surface using compressed air to eliminate static on the surface.  See this video for more information.

static shock

So why do we have more static electricity in the winter?  Actually, we don’t.  The same amount of static is generate year round.  Here is a better question – Then why do we get shocked more often in the winter?  It really all comes down to humidity.  Water is a very conductive material. This allows the charges to spread out, around the surface area of the water and any conductive surfaces that are electrically linked with where the static charge was generated.  The charges spread out across the surface are dissipated without any ESD (shock).  For instance, a plastic sheet bolted to a metal plate.  During the more humid summer the moisture in the air will electrically link the bolt, metal plate and the plastic sheet because of the thin microscopic layer of water across the plastic sheet.  This combined surface allows the charge to dissipate by any ground that the metal plate may be attached or slowly dissipated into the air.

This week I had a customer who was looking to dissipate static in his entire facility.  This would not be a typical solution for our electric static elimination product line  but we were able to provide a different solution.  The customer had an air recirculation system that they used to heat their building.  The air would pass through a 24″ X 24″ square duct.  With the knowledge of what causes static shock, the maintenance department called asking for a recommendation for an atomizing spray nozzle that would humidify the duct without leaving a large amount of moisture.  The customer had two questions. First, which nozzle would cover a 24″ square area? Second, how to control the amount of moisture added to the ventilation system, so as not to create a hazard of standing water in the duct work.  For the first question, I was able to recommend the Internal Mix Wide Angle AW1040SS.  I recommend he use two nozzles to cover the entire duct.  The second problem would need more work on the customer’s end.  Any of the atomizing spray nozzles can come with a liquid adjustment knob, which would allow the customer to control the amount of liquid added to the duct, but the customer would need to determine how much moisture was needed in their system.  The liquid adjustment could control the flow of liquid from zero flow up to maximum flow  of 24.0 GPH.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

Is The Polar Vortex Responsible for Creating an EXAIR Application?

IAJ

It’s a new year, and with it comes new opportunities and new applications.  With the recent cold spell that’s taken hold of the U.S., and the Midwest especially, the applications susceptible to static have spiked.  Yesterday I spoke with an end-user in Texas experiencing the coldest temperatures on record, and with those low temps came low humidity and the perfect environment for static accumulation.

The process in the application was to feed a pill filling machine (machine fills gelcaps with small beads of XYZ) from a hopper a short distance away.  Typically, the feed from one to the other is accomplished with gravity.  The hopper sits about 5 feet higher than the pill filler and when more material is needed, a valve is opened and viola!

But the transfer of the material had slowed to a creep and then to a fully unacceptable rate.  The end-user decided to install an EXAIR Ion Air Jet, and to their surprise, there was no change.  So, they called in and sought guidance on how to move forward.

The first step in such a situation is to make sure the unit is properly installed.  Most often, when an EXAIR device doesn’t function as intended out of the box it is due to improper installation.  When asked what the pressure at the device was, the end-user said “Probably pretty low.  There’s about 30 feet of ¼” line and at least two quick disconnects feeding the unit.”  When asked what the airflow through the Ion Air Jet felt like, they again replied that it was low and we traced this to the poor plumbing.

But what about neutralizing the static?  Poor plumbing can account for a portion of that but we should still see some achievable results even with low airflow.  (In fact, low airflow is common in a static application because once the static is removed, any process disturbance or dust adhered to the product blows away with relative ease.)  We went through the steps to connect the Ion Air Jet to the power supply, and found that the ground was not connected to the power supply!  The end-user connected the ground, and reset the Ion Air Jet to meet the desired results.

EXAIR static eliminators are designed for ease of use and if they ever become problematic, Application Engineers are on staff to get the product, and the application back on track.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Side note:  With the A4 running (and DESTROYING the snow) I’ve been cruising the local ads to see what’s out there.  (I blame @EXAIR_BF for asking me to help him find a car.  Ok, he didn’t ask, but he wants something German and I don’t need much of an impetus.)  I ran across an E36 3 series BMW that blew the head gasket and the owner tried to repair.  Halfway through the job they realized they were in over there head, put the top half of the engine in the trunk, and threw it up for sale cheap (just how I like ’em :) ).  Can I take boxes of engine parts tossed into a trunk and make a car run again?  Let’s find out!  I’ll update the 3 series progress and post a few pics when the weather breaks.