Pressure Gauges – Why You Need Them & How They Work

There is hardly a day I work that I am not talking about the importance of properly installed pressure gauges.  These small devices can often get overlooked or thought of as not necessary on an installation.  When troubleshooting or evaluating the compressed air consumption of an application, this is one of the first items I look for in the installation.

As Russ Bowman shows in the above video discussing proper piping sizes, you can see the importance of properly placed pressure gauges.  This shows the worst-case scenario where the pressure drop due to improper line sizes gives the false sense to the operator that they are achieving full line pressure when in fact they are not.  In order to accurately measure consumption rates, pressure AT THE INLET (within a few feet) to any compressed air product is necessary, rather than upstream at a point where there may be restrictions or pressure drops between the inlet and the gauge. So how exactly do these analog gauges measure the pressure of the compressed air at the installed locations?

Pressure Gauge Model 9011

The video below shows a great example of pressure increasing and decreasing moving the Bourdon tube that is connected to the indicating needle.  The description that follows goes more in-depth with how these internals function.

Most mechanical gauges utilize a Bourdon-tube. The Bourdon-tube was invented in 1849 by a French watchmaker, Eugéne Bourdon.  The movable end of the Bourdon-tube is connected via a pivot pin/link to the lever.  The lever is an extension of the sector gear and movement of the lever results in rotation of the sector gear. The sector gear meshes with spur gear (not visible) on the indicator needle axle which passes through the gauge face and holds the indicator needle.  Lastly, there is a small hairspring in place to put tension on the gear system to eliminate gear lash and hysteresis.

When the pressure inside the Bourdon-tube increases, the Bourdon-tube will straighten. The amount of straightening that occurs is proportional to the pressure inside the tube. As the tube straightens, the movement engages the link, lever, and gear system that results in the indicator needle sweeping across the gauge.

If you would like to discuss pressure gauges, the best locations to install them, or how much compressed air an application is using at a given pressure, give us a call, email, or chat.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Coandă Profiles

Here at EXAIR, Coandă is a household name that can be heard on any given day multiple times throughout the day. The Coandă effect is fairly easy to visualize with a ligthweight ball and some high velocity airflow. Take the video below for example. This 2″ Super Air Amplifier on a stand powered at 40 psig at the inlet easily lifts this hollow plastic ball and then suspends the ball due to the Coandă effect.

If you were able to see the airflow, you would see it impacting the surface of the sphere at all different points then following the profile of the sphere until it colides with itself and is forced to separate off the surface. The turbulent flow on the top is creating a downward pressure as well. The science behind this was all found and showcased by Henri Coandă. He showcased this with a propulsion device which used a domed hood with airflow to follow the curvature of the dome then exit off the sharp edge or where the separate air streams began to recombine causing a turbulent / low pressure area depending on the angle.

This stream of air following a surface begins to pull in all surrounding and impacted air molecules from around the stream which is called entrainment. This is a key factor for EXAIR products and one reason the Coandă profiles are a key characteristic to obtaining the peak performance and efficiency out of a compressed air product.

As the high velocity air stream exits the EXAIR model 1100 Super Air Nozzle the ambient air is entrained around the fins and angled surfaces of the nozzle.

Many EXAIR products utilize the Coandă principle to improve their efficiencies and performance. Below you can see the EXAIR product families containing Coandă profiles within their design which increases the ambient air entrainment resulting in an amplified air blowoff.

Super Air Wipes, Super Air Knives, Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Amplifiers use the Coanda principle to become some of the most efficient compressed air blowoff products available.

If you would like to discuss how the Coandă profile and EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products® can help your process, please give us a call.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

The Theory of the Vortex Tube

There are many theories regarding the dynamics of a vortex tube and how it works. Many a graduate student has studied them as part of their research requirements.


The Vortex Tube was invented by accident in 1928, by George Ranque, a French physics student. He was performing experiments on on a vortex-type pump that he had developed and noticed that warm air exhausted from one end and cold air from the other! Ranque quickly stopped work on the pump, and started a company to take advantage of the commercial possibilities for this odd little device that produced both hot and cold air, using only compressed air, with no moving parts. The company was not successful, and the vortex tube was forgotten until 1945 when Rudolph Hilsch, a German physicist, published a widely read paper on the device.

A vortex tube uses compressed air as a power source, has no moving parts, and produces hot air from one end and cold air from the other. The volume and temperature of the two air streams is adjustable with a valve built into the hot air exhaust.  Temperatures as low as -50°F (-46°C) and as high as 260°F (127°C) are possible.

Here is one widely accepted explanation of the physics and the phenomenon of the vortex tube.VT

Compressed air is supplied to vortex tube and passes through nozzles that are tangent to to an internal counterbore (1). As the air passes through it is set into a spiraling vortex motion (2) at up to 1,000,000 rpm. The spinning stream of air flows down the hot tube in the form of a spinning shell, like a tornado (in red). The control valve (4) at the end allows some of the warmed air to escape (6) and what does not escape reverses direction and heads back down the tube as a second vortex (in blue) inside of the low pressure area of the larger warm air vortex. The inner vortex loses heat and exits the through the other end of as cold air (5).

It is thought that that both the hot and cold air streams rotate in the same direction at the same angular velocity, even though they are travelling in opposite directions. A particle of air in the inner stream completes one rotation in the same amount of time that an air particle in the outer stream. The principle of conservation of angular momentum would say that the rotational speed of the inner inner vortex should increase because the angular momentum of a rotating particle (L) is equal to the radius of rotation (r) times its mass (m) times its velocity (v).  L = r•m•v.  When an air particle moves from the outer stream to the inner stream, both its radius (r) and velocity (v) decrease, resulting in a lower angular momentum. To maintain an energy balance for the system, the energy that is lost from the inner stream is taken in by the outer stream as heat. Therefore, the outer vortex becomes warm and the inner vortex is cooled.

At EXAIR, we have harnessed the cooling power of the vortex tube, and it can be found and utilized in such products as Spot Coolers, Cabinet Coolers, and the Vortex Tube themselves.

Harnessing the cooling power of the vortex tube 

If you have questions about Vortex Tubes, or would like to talk about any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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