What’s In My Air, And Why Is It Important?

Everyone knows there’s oxygen in our air – if there wasn’t oxygen in the air you’re breathing right now, reading this blog would be the least of your concerns. Most people know that oxygen, in fact, makes up about 20% of the earth’s atmosphere at sea level, and that almost all the rest is nitrogen. There’s an impressive list of other gases in the air we breathe, but what’s more impressive (to me, anyway) is the technology behind the instrumentation needed to measure some of these values:

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 (more on that in a minute.)  The other gases are so low in concentration that there is over 10 times as much carbon dioxide as all the others below it, combined.

About the water vapor: because it’s 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 the #3 slot.

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.

Likewise, too much of other gases can be bad.  Carbon monoxide, for example, is a lethal poison.  It’ll kill you at concentrations as low as 0.04%…about the normal amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

For the purposes of this blog, and how the makeup of our air is important to the function of EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, we’re going to stick with the top three: nitrogen, oxygen, and water vapor.

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 of the two to ionize.  You can certainly supply a Gen4 Static Eliminator with pure nitrogen if you wish, but the static dissipation rate may be hampered to a finite (although probably very small) degree.

At EXAIR Corporation, we want to be the ones you think of when you think of compressed air.  If you’ve got questions about it, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Air photo courtesy of Bruno Creative Commons License

Line Vac Makes Golf Ball Testing More Efficient

Recently, we at EXAIR worked with a major player in the golf ball manufacturing world.  As an avid golfer myself, this was an application I could really get a ‘grip’ on and I had the ‘drive’ to propose a solution.

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Golf Ball Pyramids

The customer was involved in Research & Development, performing testing on the golf balls through robotic hitting, collection, and attribute measurement. The current set up involved the ball being hit, gravity collection into a PVC tube, and then an operator unhooking the tube, walking it over to and unloading the balls onto a rack, in the same order of hitting. The customer wanted to eliminate the manual task of the tube handling and have the balls delivered directly to the rack area.  The transfer would need to be 15′ vertically, then 15′ horizontally, before dropping down to table level.  A typical rate is only 5 balls per minute. This is a perfect application for the Line Vac, a compressed air operated conveyor.

EXAIR had previously tested golf ball conveyance, as seen in the Line Vac video below (at the 1:53 mark) where golf balls are conveyed 100′, at only 30 PSIG of supply pressure.

To present the best solution to customer, we had 2 dozen golf balls sent to us, and we set-up and simulated the actual conveyance conditions of 15′ vertical and 15′ horizontal travel. We found that the balls could be conveyed at only 20 PSIG of supply pressure, when presented one at a time. When the inlet was flooded with golf balls, simulating a worst case condition, the Line Vac was able to perform the conveyance at 60 PSIG. Operation at 80-100 PSIG is possible providing a operational safety factor.

The customer was impressed with the results and has implemented the model 6984 – 2″ Aluminum Line Vac Kit into the process, making the process more efficient.

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Model 6984 – 2″ Aluminum Line Vac Kit, with Auto Drain Filter Separator, Pressure Regulator, and Mounting/Coupling Kit for the Filter/Regulator

We have a team of Application Engineers that are ready to review your process and application, and help to determine if an EXAIR Line Vac can convey your material at the distance and rate desired.  We may even have you send in small sample of the material, and we can set-up, test, and share the results with you.

If you have questions about Line Vacs, 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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Golf Ball Pyramids by Beau B used under Creative Commons – CC BY 2.0

Another Unique Application for an EXAIR Air Operated Conveyor

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Plastic mesh used to protect parts prior to shipping

Generally, when we’re talking about a Line Vac application it involves the transfer of bulk materials from one place to another. Many applications involve replacing what we call a “bucket and ladder” operation. An operator must fill a bucket or container with the material, climb up a ladder, and then deposit it into a hopper. While this is a great example of one way to use  them, Line Vacs can also be used in a variety of other applications.

In the past, we’ve blogged about using smaller Line Vacs for conveying yarn or string. At the end of a run there’s often too little thread left on a roll to save for a future run. The customer must strip the yarn off the remaining spool in order to reuse it. Using just a small amount of compressed air, a 3/8” Line Vac makes quick work of any residual thread on the spool.

I recently worked with our distributor in Argentina on another unique Line Vac application. Their customer manufacturers a variety of different types of protective plastic mesh. They come in many different sizes and colors and are used to protect the outsides of parts or products during shipping. Their machine required an operator to keep a close eye and at times manually feed the material into the machine as it would get stuck. Their hopes were to automate this process so that they could increase production and alleviate the need for an operator to worry about feeding the material by hand.

Using a Model 6082 1-1/4” aluminum Line Vac fitted with a funnel on the intake side, they were able to convey the plastic material into the cutter. It was cut to length and deposited in a box below. The video below shows the process.

The material is fed off of the spool and into the cutter without jamming or getting bunched up. Production rates are now consistent and they were even able to increase the feed rate by almost 20%. The 6082 consumes just under 26 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG, making it a low-cost solution to what was an aggravating problem for them. In addition to the ability to increase the feed rate, automating this process freed up an operator to monitor additional processes in the facility.

If you have an outside the box application that you believe could be suitable for a Line Vac Air Operated Conveyor, take advantage of EXAIR’s 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee and test one out for yourself!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

 

Nothing But Net image courtesy of Haas Automation via Creative Commons License

Video Blog: Sanitary Flange Line Vac

The below video reviews the Sanitary Flange Line Vac, the newest type from the EXAIR family of Line Vacs.

 

Sanitary Line Vac Family
EXAIR offers the Sanitary Line Vacs in diameters from 1-1/2″ (19mm) to 3″ (38mm), all in stock!

 

PowerPoint Sanitary Flanged Line Vacs file

If you have questions about the Sanitary Line Vac, 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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EXAIR Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac

EXAIR Threaded Line Vacs In Action!

EXAIR’s Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac air operated conveyors can take ordinary threaded pipe and convert it into a powerful conveying system for pellets, scrap trim, bulk solids, chips, paper, small parts, sawdust, granules, and many other bulk materials. The Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac attaches easily to plumbing pipe couplers, making it easy to build a complete system with parts that are readily available from your local home supply or hardware store.

They are available in 7 different sizes ranging from 3/8 NPT to 3 NPT and are made from a proprietary hardened alloy for superior abrasion resistance and performance. Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac Air Conveyors are ideally suited for conveying large volumes of materials over long distances.  They eject a small amount of compressed air to produce a vacuum on the intake side and a high output flow from the outlet side.   Using a regulator to control the compressed air supply pressure, the rate of conveyance can be controlled to match what the application requires all while minimizing your compressed air usage!

The Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac Kit includes a pressure regulator, filter separator to keep the air clean, modular coupler clamp (connects air regulator to filter separator, not shown below) and the mounting bracket for ease of installation.

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Heavy Duty Line Vac Kits Include: Heavy Duty Line Vac, Mounting Bracket, Filter Separator, Pressure Regulator & Coupler Kit

Line Vacs are still on promotion through October, so act now to receive a free air nozzle with your purchase.

If you would like to discuss Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac Air Conveyors or any of EXAIR’s safe, quiet & efficient compressed air products, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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Sanitary Flange Line Vacs for Bulk Conveying

Piping systems have been a hallmark of human civilization for almost as long as people have been living in community with each other. Evidence of complex earthen pipe systems, with flanged fittings & asphalt sealants, date to 2700 BC. These were used for crop irrigation, potable water distribution, and wastewater removal in ancient civilizations from the Mediterranean to the Far East.

Over the centuries, new ways to use pipe led to new ways to make pipe.  Scientists and engineers figured out ways to make pipe stronger, lighter, cheaper, and in a variety of materials.  One of the more recent milestones is the development of sanitary piping and fittings.  The stringent cleanliness controls in certain industries (food and pharmaceutical, I’m looking at you) require highly corrosion resistant materials of construction.  The inside & outside surfaces of the pipe have to be finely finished so that they can be thoroughly and positively cleaned, with no crevices, “nooks & crannies,” etc., for material to gather or cling.  And since regular cleaning & sterilization is performed, the fittings must be able to be made & unmade in a manner that still provides for positive sealing when the system is restored to operation.

EXAIR Line Vac Air Operated Conveyors have always been well suited for applications like this.  With their open, unobstructed throats and smooth bores, they’re intuitively easy to clean, by design.  And we’ve made them, for years, in Type 316 Stainless Steel – the preferred material of construction for many food and pharmaceutical applications.  Many users in these industries were able to install them in sanitary piping systems by welding the flanges on our Stainless Steel Line Vacs, or by installing adapters on our Threaded Stainless Steel Line Vacs.

In the spring of 2017, EXAIR released the Sanitary Flange Line Vac with those same users in mind – eliminating the need to weld or thread flanges onto existing products.  They feature the same conveyance power as our Stainless Steel Line Vacs, and can even be modified to meet Heavy Duty Line Vac performance, if needed.  There are four sizes: 1-1/2″, 2″, 2-1/2″, and 3″…which covers the most popular size range of sanitary pipe systems.

While the sanitary piping systems are certainly most often found in those cleanliness-critical food & pharma type applications, other users incorporate them because of the smooth, continuous bore of the pipe and fittings, as opposed to a threaded pipe system, where the OD of the pipe threads into the ID of the fittings, causing a “step” in the throughput.  Because sanitary fittings mate via face-to-face flange seals, this eliminates that “step” which can make for a catch-point for certain items.  It’s for this very reason that a popular ammunition manufacturer uses sanitary pipe systems to convey shell casings…because they tumble with such turbulence in the air flow, they are especially prone to hanging up on any kind of catch-point.  So, they use sanitary piping & fittings, long radius elbows, and EXAIR Model 161150-316 1-1/2″ Sanitary Flange Line Vacs.

Air conveying of certain items, like these ammo shell casings, can be prone to clogging or jamming in systems where pipe, hose, and/or fittings are inserted into each other, creating catch-points.

EXAIR has a wide selection of engineered compressed air products that are “textbook” solutions for certain applications, but also make perfect sense for use in places you might not have thought of.  If you have a bulk material conveyance operation you’d like to discuss, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Shells photo courtesy of hydropeek  Creative Commons License

Proper Air Supply Line Size Equals Proper Performance

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Properly sized piping will allow your compressed air operated equipment to operate efficiently!

On any given day myself and my Application Engineering Brethren here at EXAIR have discussions with customers on air starvation of any given EXAIR Product.  The calls generally start off the same, “The Line Vac is not performing like it should”.  We at EXAIR absolutely want to help you get the most out of our products and we certainly want them to perform to your expectation.  However they must be supplied with clean/dry compressed air at sufficient pressure and volume.

Just the other day I was discussing a performance issue with a customer on a 1″ Line Vac.  The customer thought he needed a larger Line Vac.  I asked the questions regarding the diameter of his Supply Line and if he was using Quick Connect or Push Lock connectors.  He was attempting to feed this Line Vac with 1/4″ Poly Tubing through a elbow Push to Loc fitting.

This 1″ Line Vac was being severely starved for air and therefore not performing as expected.  The 1″ Line Vac require’s 14.7 SCFM @ 80PSI to reach the rated performance of 42″ of water column.

Below is a table for Pipe/Hose sizing from the Line Vac installation manual that you can use as a reference guide.  It is recommended that if using hose for the supply air to go up to the next size over the pipe recommendation.

Chart2

Don’t forget that quick connects and Push Lock fittings are not recommended and could restrict the air flow which will have a negative impact on performance.

If you would like to discuss Line Vacs or any EXAIR product,  I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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