The Difference Between a Hose and a Tube and Their Effect on Pressure Drop

EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983. They are engineered with the highest of quality, efficiency, safety, and effectiveness in mind. Since compressed air is the source for operation, the performance limitations can be defined by its supply. With EXAIR products and pneumatic equipment, you will need a way to transfer the compressed air from the source to the point-of-use. There are three main ways; pipes, hoses and tubes. In this blog, I will compare the difference between compressed air hoses and compressed air tubes.

The basic difference between a compressed air hose and a compressed air tube is the way the diameter is defined.   A hose is measured by the inner diameter while a tube is measured by the outer diameter. As an example, a 3/8” compressed air hose has an inner diameter of 3/8”. While a 3/8” compressed air tube has an outer diameter that measures 3/8”. Thus, the inner diameter of the tube will be smaller than the hose.

Why do I bring this up? Pressure drop… Pressure Drop is a waste of energy, and it reduces the ability of your compressed air system to do work. To cut waste, we need to reduce pressure drop.  If we look at the equation for pressure drop, we can find the factors that play an important role. Equation 1 shows an equation for pressure drop.

Equation 1:

From Equation 1, differential pressure is controlled by the flow of compressed air, the length of the pipe, the diameter of the pipe, and the inlet pressure. As you can see, the pressure drop is inversely affected by the inner diameter to the fifth power. So, if the inner diameter of the pipe is twice as small, the pressure drop will increase by 25, or 32 times.

As an example, we have a 1/2″ black schedule 40 pipe which has an I.D. of 0.622″.  We use this pipe to flow 40 SCFM of compressed air at 100 PSIG through 100 feet.  What would be the pressure drop?  With Equation 1, imperial units, we get a pressure drop of 1.28 * (40 SCFM/60) ^1.85 * 100 feet / ((0.622″)^5 * 100 PSIG) = 6.5 PSID.  Thus, you started with 100 PSIG, and at the end of the pipe, you will only have (100 PSI – 6.5 PSI) = 93.5 PSIG to use.  Sizing pipe is very important when supplying compressed air to your system as pressure drop is a waste of energy.

Let’s revisit the 3/8” hose and 3/8” tube. The 3/8” hose has an inner diameter of 0.375”, and the 3/8” tube has an inner diameter of 0.25”. In keeping the same variables except for the diameter, we can make a pressure drop comparison in Equation 2.

Equation 2:

As you can see, by using a 3/8” tube in the process instead of the 3/8” hose, the pressure drop will be 7.6 times higher.  As an example, if the pressure drop through a 3/8″ hose is 1 PSID, and you decide to switch out to a 3/8″ tube.  The pressure drop will then be 7.6 PSID, and a big loss of pressure.

Diameters: 3/8″ Pipe vs. 3/8″ tube

At EXAIR, we want to make sure that our customers are able to get the most from our products. To do this, we need to properly size the compressed air lines. Within our installation sheets for our Super Air Knives, we recommend the infeed pipe sizes for each air knife at different lengths. (You will have to sign into the website to download).  We also have an excerpt about replacing schedule 40 pipe with a compressed air hose. We state; “If compressed air hose is used, always go one size larger than the recommended pipe size due to the smaller I.D. of hose”. Here is the reason. The 1/4” NPT Schedule 40 pipe has an inner diameter of 0.364” (9.2mm). Since the 3/8” compressed air hose has an inner diameter of 0.375” (9.5mm), the diameter will not create any additional pressure drop. Some industrial facilities like to use compressed air tubing instead of hoses. This is fine as long as the inner diameters match appropriately with the recommended pipe in the installation sheets. Then you can reduce waste from pressure drop and get the most from your EXAIR products.

With the diameter being such a significant role in creating pressure drop, it is very important to understand the type of connections to your pneumatic devices; i.e. hoses, pipes, or tubes. In most cases, this could be the reason for under performance of your pneumatic products, as well as wasting money within your compressed air system. If you would like to discuss further the ways to save energy and reduce pressure drops, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you.

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

Photo: Manometers by WebLab24_Siti_Web . Pixabay License

How To Rebuild An Automatic Drain Filter Separator

Get the most out of your compressed air operated products by keeping up with filter maintenance.  Maintaining a filter separator ranges from a simple filter element replacement to repairing or replacing broken parts. Here’s a video showing how to rebuild an EXAIR Automatic Drain Filter Separator if corrective maintenance is needed. 

If you have any questions, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

 

 

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Chip Shield Sizes and Selection

EXAIR has many options when considering Air Nozzles, Air Jets and Safety Air Guns. When considering the safety in using these tools one should consider the extra protection that EXAIR Safety Shields offer. Let’s look at the options and sizes of our Chip Shields.

EXAIR Chip Shields are durable polycarbonate shields that can be used with or without extension pipes. The Chip Shield, as the name suggests, protects the operator from flying debris such as metal chips, shavings and liquid coolants. The use of Chip Shields help meet the requirements of OSHA 1910.242(b) for safe use of compressed air.

If you are ordering a new Safety Air Gun from EXAIR and need a Chip Shield you simply place a “-CS” after the Safety gun model number, For example if you order Model 1210 VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun (SAG) and want a Chip Shield you would order Model 1210-CS and EXAIR will automatically know the size of the shield and will ship the Safety Air Gun and properly sized Shield. If you would like the same gun with a 12″ extension you would order as such; 1210-12-CS and you will receive the Model 1210 VariBlast SAG with a 12″ Aluminum extension and Chip Shield.

If you have a SAG with an extension pipe and want to add or replace a Chip Shield then we must consider the extension pipe and nozzle NPT. All of the Chip Shields are the same size with the exception of the center diameter and the rubber grommet which will accommodate the NPT size of the Air Nozzle and extension. Here is a list of the replacement shields:

If you have a SAG and do not have an extension pipe or shield we have Chip Shield Kits that will allow you to retrofit your existing gun:

One important note is that SAG’s that are equipped with a Stay Set Hose will not allow for the Chip Shield to be installed. Choosing the correct Chip Shield or Retrofit Kit can be tricky but EXAIR Application Engineers are always ready to help. Please visit EXAIR.com and check out our informational site where ordering is easy.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK

Boundary Layer: Laminar and Turbulent flow

Fluid mechanics is the field that studies the properties of fluids in various states.  Fluid dynamics studies the forces on a fluid, either as a liquid or a gas, during motion.  Osborne Reynolds, an Irish innovator, popularized this dynamic with a dimensionless number, Re. This number determines the state in which the fluid is moving; either laminar flow, transitional flow, or turbulent flow.  For compressed air, Re < 2300 will have laminar flow while Re > 4000 will have turbulent flow.  Equation 1 below shows the relationship between the inertial forces of the fluid as compared to the viscous forces. 

Equation 1: 

Re = V * Dh / u

Re – Reynolds Number (no dimensions)

V – Velocity (feet/sec or meters/sec)

Dh – hydraulic diameter (feet or meters)

u – Kinematic Viscosity (feet^2/sec or meter^2/sec)

To dive deeper into this, we will need to examine the boundary layer.  The boundary layer is the area that is near the surface of the object.  This could refer to a wing on an airplane or a blade from a turbine.  In this blog, I will target pipes, tubes, and hoses that are used for transporting fluids.  The profile across the area (reference diagram below) is a velocity gradient.  The boundary layer is the distance from the wall or surface to 99% of the maximum velocity of the fluid stream.  At the surface, the velocity of the fluid is zero because the fluid is in a “no slip” condition.  As we move away from the wall, the velocity starts to increase.  The boundary layer distance measures that area where the velocity is not uniform.  If you reach 99% of the maximum velocity very close to the wall of the pipe, the air flow is turbulent.  If the boundary layer reaches the radius of the pipe, then the velocity is fully developed, or laminar. 

Boundary Layer Concept

The calculation is shown in Equation 2.

Equation 2:

d = 5 * X / (Re1/2)

d – Boundary layer thickness (feet or meter)

X – distance in pipe or on surface (feet or meter)

Re – Reynolds Number (no dimensions) at distance X

This equation can be very beneficial for determining the thickness where the velocity is not uniform along the cross-section.  As an analogy, imagine an expressway as the velocity profile, and the on-ramp as the boundary layer.  If the on-ramp is long and smooth, a car can reach the speed of traffic and merge without disrupting the flow.  This would be considered Laminar Flow.  If the on-ramp is curved but short, the car has to merge into traffic at a much slower speed.  This will disrupt the flow of some of the traffic.  I would consider this as the transitional range.  Now imagine an on-ramp to be very short and perpendicular to the expressway. As the car goes to merge into traffic, it will cause chaos and accidents.  This is what I would consider to be turbulent flow.      

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

In a compressed air system, similar things happen within the piping scheme.  Valves, tees, elbows, pipe reducers, filters, etc. are common items that will affect the flow.  Let’s look at a scenario with the EXAIR Digital Flowmeters.  In the instruction manual, we require the meter to be placed 30 pipe diameters from any disruptions.  The reason is to get a laminar air flow for accurate flow measurements.  In order to get laminar flow, we need the boundary layer thickness to reach the radius of the pipe.  So, let’s see how that number was calculated.  

Within the piping system, high Reynold’s numbers generate high pressure drops which makes the system inefficient.  For this reason, we should keep Re < 90,000.  As an example, let’s look at the 2” EXAIR Digital Flowmeter.  The maximum flow range is 400 SCFM (standard cubic feet per min).  In looking at Equation 2, the 2” Digital Flowmeter is mounted to a 2” Sch40 pipe with an inner diameter of 2.067” (52.5mm).  The radius of this pipe is 1.0335” (26.2 mm) or 0.086 ft (0.026m).  If we make the Boundary Layer Thickness equal to the radius of the pipe, then we will have laminar flow.  To solve for X which is the distance in the pipe, we can rearrange the terms to:

X = d * (Re)1/2 / 5 = 0.086ft * (90,000)1/2 / 5 = 5.16 ft or 62”

If we look at this number, we will need 62” of pipe to get a laminar air flow for the worse-case condition.  If you know the Re value, then you can change that length of pipe to match it and still get valid flow readings.  From the note above, the Digital Flowmeter will need to be mounted 30 pipe diameters.  So, the pipe diameter is 2.067” and at 30 pipe diameters, we will need to be at 30 * 2.067 = 62”.  So, with any type of common disruptions in the air stream, you will always get good flow data at that distance. 

Why is this important to know?  In many compressed air applications, the laminar region is the best method to generate a strong force efficiently and quietly.  Allowing the compressed air to have a more uniform boundary layer will optimize your compressed air system.  And for the Digital Flowmeter, it helps to measure the flow correctly and consistently.  If you would like to discuss further how to reduce “traffic jams” in your process, an EXAIR Application Engineer will be happy to help you.

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