How To Make Compressed Air Get Cold…A Couple Of Different Ways

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:

You can get a lot more cold air – and a much lower temperature – from a Vortex Tube than you can from a can of compressed air.

If you need a reliable and dependable flow of cold air, look no further than EXAIR’s comprehensive line of Vortex Tubes and Spot Cooling Equipment.  We’ve got 24 models of Vortex Tubes to choose from, as well as “out of the box” solutions for cooling applications like the Adjustable Spot Cooler, Mini CoolerCold Gun Aircoolant Systems. and, to protect your sensitive electrical and electronic enclosures from heat, Cabinet Cooler Systems.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman

Application Engineer
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Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System – Step 1: Measure

“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.

Six Steps To Optimizing 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.

Monitor your compressed air flow wirelessly over a ZigBee mesh network.

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.

From the Digital Flowmeter, to your computer, to your screen, the USB Data Logger shows how much air you’re using…and when you’re using it!

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.

Monitor compressed air consumption from a convenient location, as well as last 24 hours usage and cumulative usage.

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.

With any of the above options, or stand-alone, EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter is your best option for Step One to optimize your compressed air system.

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!


The Case For The EXAIR Super Air Wipe

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?

Even if your product is not on fire, you probably wouldn’t want to “limbo” under it with an air gun…

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.

The aluminum Super Air Wipe is available in 11 sizes; the stainless steel Super Air Wipe comes in 5 sizes…all from stock.

*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:

Simply open the two halves, and clamp them around your product…no threading!

*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…

These wasteful and loud modular plastic tube blow offs…
…were replaced with EXAIR Super Air Wipes. 24 such replacements netted the customer an annual compressed air cost savings of over $13,000.00.

…and this one…

Implementing a Super Air Wipe salvaged a $30,000 job for this customer. Click on the picture to read all about it in our Case Study Library (registration required.)

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.

Custom Shims – Literally A Breeze For EXAIR

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″.

If your application is more challenging than a custom shim, we’ve also made Air Knives with (left to right) curved radius, special material (glass filled PEEK shown here,) flat, double-sided, and even one with end-mount threaded holes.

Regardless of how challenging (or not) your compressed air product application is, we’re here to discuss, any time you’re ready.  Call us.


How Versatile Are EXAIR Compressed Air Products?

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.”

The EXAIR Vortex Tube. Cold air from one end; hot air from the other. Fully adjustable. You can use's fine with us; whatever you need.
The EXAIR Vortex Tube. Cold air from one end; hot air from the other.  You can use either…it’s fine with us; whatever you need.

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 Amplifier just fine…the Pressure Regulator was still cranked all the way down, and it picked them up one at a time.

No matter what you need to pick-and-place, we've got you covered.
No matter what you need to pick-and-place, we’ve got you covered.

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!

Continuous, even, fully adjustable curtain of air...EXAIR Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet.
Continuous, even, fully adjustable curtain of air…EXAIR Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet, in stock.

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!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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The Old One-Two: Super Air Knives And Super Air Nozzles

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.

EXAIR Super Air Knifes come in a wide variety of lengths to suit a wide range of applications.

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.

Mag Bases come with one or two outlets. Stay Set Hoses come in lengths from 6″ to 36″.

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.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Custom Air Amplifiers To Meet Most Any Requirement

When I think of “special” in regard to Air Amplifiers, I’m more inclined to think of the applications they can be used in. I mean, the Air Amplifier itself is about as straight-forward as an engineered compressed air product can be:

Air Amplifiers use the Coanda Effect to generate high flow with low consumption.

Considering the simplicity of the product itself, they can be used for a large variety of “typical” applications:

  • Cooling
  • Drying
  • Cleaning
  • Ventilation
  • Fume Exhausting
  • Dust Collection

There are no shortage of “special” applications either.  They’re used successfully in Air Operated Conveyance applications (when the stronger vacuum head of a Line Vac isn’t required) and we’ve even got a customer who uses one instead of an E-Vac Vacuum Generator for a “pick & place” operation…they’re picking up small, porous fiber discs (sort of like a coffee filter) one at a time, and the E-Vac wanted to pick up a good part of the whole stack, no matter how low they turned the pressure.  And of course, I can’t think of anything more special about Air Amplifiers than this:

You have to read it to believe it.  Follow the link and click on “Case Study: Roaring Banana Breath”

With fifteen distinct models to choose from in a range of sizes (3/4″ to 8″,) materials (aluminum or Stainless Steel) and even a High Temperature model that’s rated to 700°F (374°C), we’ve still made a fair number of Custom Air Amplifiers too…thirty-four, to be exact, as of this writing.

I won’t bore you with all the details – I can’t, actually, because some of them are proprietary* – but here are some “regular” examples of “special” accommodations:

  • Connections: EXAIR Air Amplifiers have smooth bores on the inlet & outlet plenums that you can hose clamp a hose (or round duct) to if you need to get air flow from, or to, one place or another.  Sometimes, though, they’re going in to an existing system, so we’ve made them with flanges (150#RF and Sanitary Tri-Clamp, for example) or threads (NPT or BSPP.)  If you want to use something other than a standard hose or duct line, we can help.
  • Material of construction: Our durable, lightweight aluminum Super & Adjustable Air Amplifiers are just fine an awful lot of the time.  Our type 303 Stainless Steel Adjustable Air Amplifiers will hold up to heat and corrosives.  We’ve also in PTFE (Teflon™) as well as a range of metal alloys to meet specific corrosion or wear conditions.  If your environment calls for a little something extra, we can help.
  • Assembly: Super Air Amplifiers are fitted with a stock shim that gives you published performance.  We’ve got other thicknesses, though, if you need more (or less) flow, though.  Adjustable Air Amplifiers are, well, adjustable…you just thread the plug in/out of the body until you get the results you want.  Sometimes the user knows what shim they want in a Super Air Amplifier, or what gap their Adjustable Air Amplifier needs to be set to, and we can assemble it accordingly.  If you have a ‘tried-and-true’ performance setting and want it met right out of the box, we can help.
  • Assembly, part 2: Good engineering practices call for lubrication on O-rings and threaded connections, and we use high quality, general purpose compounds when assembling our Air Amplifiers.  These are detrimental, however, in certain situations (silicone exclusion areas, I’m looking at you.) If certain chemicals or compounds are prohibited by your application, we can help.

*Let’s say you’ve done the “heavy lifting” to call out one (or more) of these special design features.  If we make a custom product (and that’s not just Air Amplifiers, by the way) using directions based on your time and labor, we’ll treat that product as proprietary to you, and you alone.

EXAIR has 208 catalog pages worth of Intelligent Compressed Air Products on the shelf…8 of those pages are our Air Amplifiers.  If you want to talk about customizing one to meet your needs, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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