When Air Flow, Not Force, Makes The Difference

I recently had the pleasure of talking with a CAGI Certified Compressed Air Systems Specialist, who was working with a client to improve energy efficiency in the use of their compressed air. One particular application that was particularly taxing on their system is the use of hose barb fittings (basically, an open blow device) to fold over a cardboard box flap on a packaging line.

We discussed the possibility of trying something out, but the client wanted to look at some data, showing what their expected savings could be. Hose barb fittings are quite common, and they DO focus the flow of a compressed air discharge into a forceful little blast, which is quite effective at folding a box flap.

The client’s main concern was the force applied. In truth, there’s no better way to maximize force than by discharging a compressed gas directly through an open ended device. Excessive force, however, isn’t the only way to solve an application like this, as I proved in a test in our Efficiency Lab.  Here’s what happened:

EXAIR 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles can be fitted with a variety of shims for variable performance.
  • All of them folded the box flap easily.  The Model HP1125 folded it just as far as the hose did in the test I rigged, and with a 37% reduction in compressed air consumption.  The others folded it very nearly as far, with 62% (Model 1122) and 70% (Model HP1126) reductions.
  • Not to mention the drastic reduction in noise levels.

Lastly, I documented it all in a short video:

We field calls all the time from callers wanting to know how much force our Intelligent Compressed Air Products can generate.  Applications like part ejection do indeed require a certain amount of force to, say, move an object in motion from a conveyor belt…that’s just physics.  Most blow off applications (and folding over a flat box flap, for instance,) just need air flow…which engineered products from EXAIR Corporation can handle just fine, and at a fraction of the compressed air use & sound levels associated with open end blowing devices.

If you’d like to find out how EXAIR Corporation can help save you money on compressed air consumption, and ear plugs, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Air! image courtesy of Barney Moss  Creative Commons License

The Makeup of Earth’s Air

Most people know that oxygen, makes up about 20% of the earth’s atmosphere at sea level, and that almost all the rest is nitrogen. But did you know there’s an impressive list of other gases in the air we breathe

whats in air
Reference: CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, edited by David R. Lide, 1997.

We can consider, for practical purposes, that air is made up of five gases: nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. But because water vapor is a variable, this table omits it, water vapor generally makes up 1-3% of atmospheric air, by volume, and can be as high as 5%.  Which means that, even on a ‘dry’ day, it pushes argon out of third place!

There are numerous reasons why the volumetric concentrations of these gases are important.  If oxygen level drops in the air we’re breathing, human activity is impaired.  Exhaustion without physical exertion will occur at 12-15%.  Your lips turn blue at 10%.  Exposure to oxygen levels of 8% or below are fatal within minutes.

But here at EXAIR we care about how compressed air can be used efficiently to better your process! 

Any of our products are capable of discharging a fluid, but they’re specifically designed for use with compressed air – in basic grade school science terms, they convert the potential energy of air under compression into kinetic energy in such a way as to entrain a large amount of air from the surrounding environment.  This is important to consider for a couple of reasons:

  • Anything that’s in your compressed air supply is going to get on the part you’re blowing off with that Super Air Nozzle, the material you’re conveying with that Line Vac, or the electronics you’re cooling with that Cabinet Cooler System.  That includes water…which can condense from the water vapor at several points along the way from your compressor’s intake, through its filtration and drying systems, to the discharge from the product itself.
  • Sometimes, a user is interested in blowing a purge gas (commonly nitrogen or argon) –  but unless it’s in a isolated environment (like a closed chamber) purged with the same gas, most of the developed flow will simply be room air.

Another consideration of air make up involves EXAIR Gen4 Static Eliminators.  They work on the Corona discharge principle: a high voltage is applied to a sharp point, and any gas in the vicinity of that point is subject to ionization – loss or gain of electrons in their molecules’ outer valences, resulting in a charged particle.  The charge is positive if they lose an electron, and negative if they gain one.  Of the two gases that make up almost all of our air, oxygen has the lowest ionization energy in its outer valence, making it the easier to ionize than nitrogen.  You can certainly supply a Gen4 Static Eliminator with pure nitrogen if you wish, but the static dissipation rate may be lesser.

If you want to learn more about the compressed air or any of our point of use compressed air products, you can contact an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to help you.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Air photo courtesy of Barney Moss Creative Commons License

Video Blog: Filter/Separator and Pressure Regulator Mounting and Coupling Kit Installation

Using EXAIR mounting and coupling kits you can assemble EXAIR Filters and Regulators into one plug and play assembly. Follow along with the video posted below to complete this task!

If you need a deeper understanding about how EXAIR’s products can be applied and help your process or product, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to give you a clear understanding of the benefits when using our engineered compressed air products. We can also explain proper implementation of accessory items such as compressed air filters and regulators.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Save Compressed Air Energy with Pressure Regulators

Why should you consider a Pressure Regulator when designing your compressed air system? As many know, our products and those of other  product manufacturers have a certain set of specifications regarding performance at stated input pressures. But what if your application doesn’t require that “full, rated performance”? Maybe instead of needing two pounds of force, you only need one pound? Sometimes more force does not produce the desired result for an application. By that, I mean you cause damage to the target or other surrounding items in the application. Or, perhaps blowing too hard (or vacuuming too hard in the case of a Line Vac or E-vac) might cause the vessel or the material you are picking up to collapse or deform (due to too much power).

Regulators catalog
EXAIR offers a range of Pressure Regulators capable of handling air flow of up to 700 SCFM.

There is also the concern about using more energy than one really needs to in order to achieve the desired effect in an application. In other words, if you can achieve your goals with only 40 PSIG, then why would you ever use 80 PSIG to accomplish the goal? By reducing your compressed air from 80 down to 40 PSIG, you can easily reduce the air consumption of the “engineered” solution by another 40% or more.  Once you have installed engineered air nozzles to reduce compressed air on blow off applications, a pressure regulator can fine tune the pressure to save even more energy.

Regulator Internal
Regulator Internals

Then there is the issue of taking advantage of the pressure differential (from 80 down to 40 PSIG) that creates a little bit more air volume capacity. At 80 PSIG, your compressed air to free air volume ratio is 6.4:1. At 40 PSIG, it is only 3.7:1. The net effect is you effectively have an overall larger volume of air you can use for other applications in your facility. By reducing compressed air pressure of your demand applications, you may be able to reduce over all compressor discharge pressure. Reducing compressor discharge pressure by 2 PSIG also reduces required input power by 1 percent – so keep your pressure as low as possible!

Regulating pressure is definitely warranted given the benefits that compliment the operation of the core EXAIR products.

If you need a deeper understanding about how EXAIR’s products can help your application, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to give you a clear understanding of all the benefits that can be had by our products’ use as well as proper implementation of accessory items such as compressed air filters and regulators.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Find us on the Web 
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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS