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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Cabinet Coolers Keep Enclosures Free of Dirt and Dust…and Cool

One of the main focuses for Cabinet Cooler Systems is to cool electrical enclosures that are overheating due to inadequate cooling, failing air conditioners, or heat exchangers that are not performing due to high ambient conditions.  Another focus is the fact that the Cabinet Cooler Systems don’t require refrigerant based coolants, or fans that can move dirty ambient air into the cabinet. This is the portion I would like to focus on today.

If there are vents on the enclosure then these are sometimes covered with a filter media that is an easily forgotten maintenance item –  sometimes they are even removed.  This is an issue as it starts to allow the contaminants from the surrounding area to begin to enter the inside of an enclosure.  In case you have never seen a circuit board that is covered in oil mist and metal chips, it is terrifying to see a maintenance person that is trying to troubleshoot the machine for failures.  Not only does this present a fire hazard but it also presents the internals of the panel with a strong probability of failure.

Another item I have personally seen fail in the field are small fans mounted within enclosure vents to help circulate air through the enclosure.  This is a great idea if the ambient environment is climate controlled and has no dirt or debris in the air.   Even in a facility that is climate controlled there is still potential for airborne debris, dust, and contaminants to enter the cabinets. These are merely accelerated into the cabinet by the fan and distributed throughout the entire enclosure instead of just coming in and covering the area just inside of the vent.

The solution to all the problems above which can easily save thousands of dollars worth of damaged circuit boards or drives is an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System.  The Cabinet Coolers will all provide a slight positive air flow within the enclosure and will help to keep those external ambient conditions out of the cabinet and away from valuable electronics.  Even with our thermostatically controlled systems (which turn on and off as needed to maintain internal temperature AND save air) we offer a Non-Hazardous Purge option which will permit a 1 SCFM flow of air through the Cabinet Cooler to always keep a slight positive pressure within the enclosure. When the cabinet needs to be cooled, it will open the solenoid valve and provide the full rate of cooling from the Cabinet Cooler System.  The Non-Hazardous Purge function is available for all three NEMA types of Cabinet Cooler Systems, 12, 4, and 4X.

NHP.PNG

If you would like to discuss the other benefits of utilizing EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems and which model is right for your enclosure, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

EXAIR Heavy Duty Vacuums Filtration: HEPA vs. Dry

 

I had a distributor that asked about the difference in filtration for the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac and the Heavy Duty Dry Vac. Besides the obvious thing that one is an “innie” and the other is an “outie” (HEPA filter is on the inside and Dry Vac filter is on the outside), there is a difference in the level of filtration. Model 901357 HEPA media is 99.97% efficient at 0.3 micron and Model 6804 media is 95% at 0.1 micron. What does this all mean?

In the simplest term, filtration is a method of separating. With air filters, we are separating particles from air. Particles, due to their mass and size, behave in certain ways as they pass through a fibrous media. The method of capturing the particles are done by 3 major mechanical methods:

  1. Inertial Impaction – Larger particles that are captured because they cannot follow the air stream around a fiber. It would be similar to hitting a golf ball into an oak tree. The tree is mostly open with air, but that golf ball always seems to hit that one little branch. The mass of the golf ball will not allow it to change direction as it comes towards the branch. Thus, we are looking for a lost ball. Captured!
  2. Direct Interception – Medium sized particles that can follow the air stream around some of the fibers. Because of the tortuous path and the inertial mass, they can contact fibers as they try to wind their way through the filter. This is similar to an extremely curvy road, and a vehicle with no brakes. As you start, you can keep on the road, but as the curves become sharper and tighter, your inertia will have you sliding off the road. Captured!
  3. Diffusion – Small particles with little mass are bounced around by the air molecules until they hit a fiber. It would be similar to a little clown car traveling on icy roads with truckers. If everyone had bumper pads, the little clown car will be bounced forward and backwards, side to side, and around and around. Whoops, you are off the road. Captured!
Diagram 1: Total filtration curve with individual mechanism by particle size
Diagram 1: Total filtration curve with individual mechanism by particle size

When we take an efficiency curve by particle size of an air filter, it resembles an inverted bell. In Diagram 1 above, you notice how each filtration mechanism is used to capture the particles by size. If you look closely, you will notice that the most penetrating particle size is between 0.2 and 0.3 micron. That means that if you go larger than 0.3 micron or smaller than 0.2 micron, the filter is more efficient. Say what? That is correct. With the examples above, a particle in the range of 0.2 to 0.3 micron has enough mass to resist the forces of other molecules but not enough mass to create a large inertia passing by or around the fibers of the filter.

Now lets apply these variables to our two types of filters. With Model 901357 HEPA media, the marker is 99.97% at 0.3 micron. Model 6804 media is 95% at 0.1 micron. If we apply the inverted curve analysis like in Diagram 1 to each of the filter medias, we can estimate the efficiency curve. As you can see in Diagram 2, the 901357 HEPA is more efficient at capturing particles than the 6804. So, when would you use the Heavy Duty Dry Vac or the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac? It is dependent on your dirty application and environment. If you require very fine filtration and/or very clean exhaust air, then I would recommend the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac. For most general industry environments, the Heavy Duty Dry Vac will work just fine. If you are still not sure, you can always contact our Application Engineers at EXAIR.

Diagram 2: Filtration Efficiency
Diagram 2: Filtration Efficiency

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