The Vortex Tube makes cold air for the same reason that a can of compressed air gets cold when I clean my computer keyboard, right?
That’s a common question, and since they both start with compress air and end up with cold(er) air, it’s not an unreasonable assumption. But the answer is no; they’re not the same. Both are curious physical phenomena, though:
Cans of compressed air get cold while they’re discharging because of a thermodynamic principle known as the adiabatic effect. When you pressurize a gas by compressing it into a container, you’re putting all those molecules into a smaller volume of space…and you’re adding potential energy by the compression. Then, when you release that gas back to atmospheric pressure, that energy has to go somewhere…so it’s given off in the form of heat – from the air inside the can, as the pressure inside the can decreases. Now, the air that’s not under as much pressure as it was when you pushed the button on top of the can is going to start coming out of the can pretty soon. I mean, there’s only so much air in there, right? So, since it’s given off that energy immediately upon the drop in pressure, when it comes out of the can, it’s at a lower temperature than it was before you started spraying it out.
Vortex Tubes, on the other hand, generate a flow of cold air by a completely different phenomenon of physics called, maybe not so curiously, the Vortex Tube principle:
“To measure is to know – if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” -Lord Kelvin, mathematical physicist, engineer,and pioneer in the field of thermodynamics.
This is true of most anything. If you want to lose weight, you’re going to need a good scale. If you want to improve your time in the 100 yard dash, you’re going to need a good stopwatch. And if you want to decrease compressed air consumption, you’ll need a good flowmeter. In fact, this is the first of six steps that we can use to help you optimize your compressed air system.
There are various methods of measuring fluid flow, but the most popular for compressed air is thermal mass air flow. This has the distinct advantage of accurate and instantaneous measurement of MASS flow rate…which is important, because measuring VOLUMETRIC flow rate would need to be corrected for pressure in order to determine the true compressed air consumption. My colleague John Ball explains this in detail in a most excellent blog on Actual (volume) Vs. Standard (mass) Flows.
So, now we know how to measure the mass flow rate. Now, what do we do with it? Well, as in the weight loss and sprint time improvements mentioned earlier, you have to know what kind of shape you’re in right now to know how far you are from where you want to be. Stepping on a scale, timing your run, or measuring your plant’s air flow right now is your “before” data, which represents Step One. The next Five Steps are how you get to where you want to be (for compressed air optimization, that is – there may be a different amount of steps towards your fitness/athletic goals.) So, compressed air-wise, EXAIR offers the following solutions for Step One:
Digital Flowmeter with wireless capability. This is our latest offering, and it doesn’t get any simpler than this. Imagine having a flowmeter installed in your compressed air system, and having its readings continually supplied to your computer. You can record, analyze, manipulate, and share the data with ease.
Digital Flowmeter with USB Data Logger. We’ve been offering these, with great success, for almost seven years now. The Data Logger plugs into the Digital Flowmeter and, depending on how you set it up, records the flow rate from once a second (for about nine hours of data) up to once every 12 hours (for over two years worth.) Pull it from your Digital Flowmeter whenever you want to download the data to your computer, where you can view & save it in the software we supply, or export it directly into Microsoft Excel.
Summing Remote Display. This connects directly to the Digital Flowmeter and can be installed up to 50 feet away. At the push of a button, you can change the reading from actual current air consumption to usage for the last 24 hours, or total cumulative usage. It’s powered directly from the Digital Flowmeter, so you don’t even need an electrical outlet nearby.
Digital Flowmeter. As a stand-alone product, it’ll show you actual current air consumption, and the display can also be manipulated to show daily or cumulative usage. It has milliamp & pulse outputs, as well as a Serial Communication option, if you can work with any of those to get your data where you want it.
Stay tuned for more information on the other five steps. If you just can’t wait, though, you can always give me a call. I can talk about compressed air efficiency all day long, and sometimes, I do!
If you’ve ever used an air gun to blow something off, you’re familiar with the cleaning ability of compressed air. If you can get the whole object blown off from where you’re standing, there really is no substitute…but what if you need to get to the other side…or sides?
This is where the EXAIR Super Air Wipe comes in…they allow you to blow a continuous, uniform 360° air stream, all around your product. Consider their benefits:
*Sizes: the Super Air Wipe’s compact ring design means it won’t take up a lot of room; you just need a few inches, in any direction, to install one. We stock them in eleven sizes, from 11″, all the way down to our brand-new 3/8″ diameter.
*Durability: All EXAIR Super Air Wipes are assembled with stainless steel shims and hardware. Models up to 4″ come with a rugged, stainless steel wire braided hose, connecting the two halves for compressed air supply.
*Ease of installation: Smaller sizes can be supported by the compressed air supply line, if a pipe is used and threaded into the connector hose’s 1/4 NPT port. Larger sizes can likewise be adequately supported with pipe to both halves. All models have a bolt circle of 1/4″-20 tapped holes for more permanent and rigid mounting. The split ring design is another key feature:
*Corrosion resistance: Depending on the environment in which the Super Air Wipe will be installed, we offer them with aluminum (3/8″ – 11″ sizes) or stainless steel (3/8″ – 4″ sizes) bodies.
*Temperature rating:Aluminum Super Air Wipes are good to 400°F (204°C) and stainless steel models are good to 800°F (427°C.)
*Range of operation: We install a 0.002″ thick shim in all stock Super Air Wipes; this is suitable for a wide range of typical industrial/commercial blow off applications…a Pressure Regulator can then be used to “dial in” the air flow precisely to meet specific needs. If a job calls for higher force & flow, additional 0.002″ shims can be installed. Shim Sets come with the Super Air Wipe Kits, or individual shims can be ordered separately.
*Performance: Before the Super Air Wipe, a ring of nozzles was commonly used. In fact, they still are, but we’re trying to fix that, at every opportunity we come across. Problem with those is, it’s hard to get an even air flow all around, which leads to inconsistent blow off. They can also be loud & inefficient, as we’ve found in numerous Efficiency Lab tests and Case Studies, like this one…
…and this one…
Do you have a challenging blow off application that you need help with? Call us to find out how an EXAIR Super Air Wipe (or another one of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products) can be a simple, quick & easy solution.
As proud as we are of being able to ship most any catalog product, same day, from stock (99.9831% of the time for on-time shipping in 2017…22 years straight for 99.9% or better,) we take a certain amount of pride in our ability to offer custom solutions for challenging applications as well. Our Engineering and Production teams have a deep well of resources (knowledge, experience, and capability) to draw from, which allows us to meet those challenging applications head-on, in short order.
The one I’m writing about today isn’t exactly one of those challenging ones…
A machine fabricator had a special need for an Air Knife. It had to be Stainless Steel, and it had to be 30″ long. No problem so far…that’s a Model 110030SS 30″ Stainless Steel Air Knife, and it’s on the shelf. Thing is, they only needed 26″ worth of air flow; a full 30″ width was going to disturb, and maybe damage, the edges of the sheet of material that the air was being blown onto.
So we made a custom shim for the Air Knife. Now, we make these all the time, in all kinds of configurations…hence the term “custom.” Since this one was blowing onto a web where they didn’t want to disturb the material on the far edges, we made this shim to provide 26″ of flow, on center. We could just as easily made it to provide 26″ of flow starting at one end or the other, or a specified distance from one end or the other. Or 13″ of flow on both ends, with 4″ of no flow in the middle, for a total of 26″.
Regardless of how challenging (or not) your compressed air product application is, we’re here to discuss, any time you’re ready. Call us.
Even if you’re just a casual, infrequent reader of our blogs, you likely know that EXAIR Corporation is proud of our abilities to customize solutions for “out of the box” compressed air product applications. Oftentimes, this is offered as a custom engineered product, developed from a user’s specifications when one of our stock products just won’t work for one reason or another. For instance, when an exotic material of construction is required for heat or corrosion concerns, a special length or size is needed for space constraints, etc.
Other times, though, we can use a stock product for something other than what everyone else uses it for. We’ve sold Air Amplifiers for use in vacuum chucking, and pick-and-place applications – those are normally the realm of our E-Vac Vacuum Generators. Speaking of E-Vacs, they’ve been used to deflate basketballs.
And speaking of E-Vacs (still,) I had the pleasure of helping a long-time customer solve a new problem in their growing manufacturing business. They put their consumer products in blister packages, and recently converted one of the lines that picks & places the plastic “blister” onto the cardboard “backer” from two at a time, to six at a time. They were using a Model 810003M E-Vac High Vacuum Generator, which worked fine, every time, with two Model 900762 1″ x 1/2″ Oval Vacuum Cups, but when they put four more of those Vacuum Cups on, they weren’t able to pick all six “blisters” every time.
These plastic blisters are smooth and non-porous, so this a “textbook” application for a High Vacuum Generator. They’re also VERY lightweight, and were picked in a horizontal motion, so the 27″Hg that the Model 810003M can generate wasn’t actually necessary. By replacing it with a Model 800003M E-Vac Low Vacuum Generator, the extra vacuum flow solved the problem, with no increase in compressed air consumption, which was critical for this area of their operation.
EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can solve many of your industrial/commercial challenges. Our catalog documents the ones they’re aimed at. Others need to be addressed by knowledge and experience…and maybe a little theory to practice. If that’s the case, call an EXAIR Application Engineer. We’re here to help, and we’re pretty good at it.
I wish I could quantify that, but we keep finding more and more applications for them:
Vortex Tubes are used all the time for cooling applications, down to MINUS 40 degrees (Fahrenheit OR Celsius…that’s the point where they’re both the same; no math required.) They also produce a HOT air flow, which we usually call “exhaust,” but some users actually use IT for heating, and call the COLD flow the “exhaust.”
Our E-Vac Vacuum Generators are popular for “pick-and-place” jobs…hook one up to a Vacuum Cup and you can move parts around all day long. One time, though, I helped a
customer who needed to “pick-and-place” individual small pieces of woven fabric, a lot like a coffee filter. Even our smallest E-Vac, supplied from a Pressure Regulator cranked all the way down, was too much…it would still pick up most of the stack. We found they could use a Model 120020 3/4″ Super Air Amplifierjust fine…the Pressure Regulator was still cranked all the way down, and it picked them up one at a time.
Our Super Air Knives are perfect for blow off, drying, and cooling applications…whether you’re trying to rid your product of dirt/debris, water, or heat, a laminar curtain of adjustable air flow is a “textbook” solution. But I recently had the pleasure of helping a customer who needed to KEEP SOMETHING IN PLACE and called to ask about an Air Knife. They had small cups running single-file down a conveyor belt, with an overhead brush roller pushing down on them at one point so they could be treated on one side. Without something holding them in place, the tooling would simply push them off the side of the conveyor. It required frequent adjustment because they run different sized cups…and they almost always lost some cups when they switched to a different size, while “dialing in” the brush tension. By installing a Model 110036 36″ Aluminum Super Air Knife in place of the brush, they can hold any size cup in place with the downward air flow “curtain.” No more lost product when they don’t get the brush adjustment just right!
If you have a compressed air application you’d like to discuss, give me a call. Perhaps we’ll find the next level of versatility!
The EXAIR Super Air Knife is THE ideal, efficient, and quiet solution for most any blow off application. We know this for a fact; we’ve been making them for years, folks all around the world have been buying them for years, and they keep coming back for more. They’re popular enough that over the years, we’ve introduced Mounting Systems and Plumbing Kits for ease of installation, and when Coupling Kits (to join multiple Super Air Knives together for greater lengths) became big sellers, we “upped our game” and started making Super Air Knives up to nine feet (108″) long. And certain applications (I’m looking at YOU, lumber and paper industries) order multiples of THOSE, and our Coupling Kits. Quite literally, there’s no job too big for EXAIR Super Air Knives.
No matter how long they are, though, the laminar, high velocity curtain of air they generate only moves in one direction. So, if there are significant geometric features (holes, bosses, recesses, “nooks & crannies,” etc.) to be blown off, we’ll have to look at something supplemental.
Enter the EXAIR Blowoff Systems…it doesn’t get any easier than this: an EXAIR engineered Super Air Nozzle, attached to a flexible, repositionable Stay Set Hose, mounted to a Magnetic Base. Put a hard hitting, high velocity, pointed flow of air right where you want it. If the next piece is different, that’s no problem – just bend the hose to re-aim the air flow.
No matter what the requirements of your blow off application are, we have an efficient, quiet, and safe solution. If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.