Supply Side Review: Deliquescent Type Dryers

As mentioned in my post last week.  The supply side of compressed air systems within a facility is critical to production.  The quality of air produced by your compressor and sent to the demand side of the system needs to be filtered for both moisture and particulate.  One method to dry the air, that is the topic for this blog, is deliquescent type dryers.

These dryers operate like an adsorbent dryer such as a desiccant medium dryer.  The main variance is that the drying medium (desiccant) actually undergoes a phase change from solids to liquids.  Because of this the material is used up and cannot be returned to its original state for reuse.   The liquids formed by the desiccant dissolving in the removed water vapor are then filtered out of the air stream before it is passed on to the demand side of the air system.

There are many compounds that are used to absorb the moisture in the wet compressed air.  A few options are potassium, calcium, or sodium salts and many that contain a urea base.  The desiccant compound must be maintained at a minimum level for the dryer to contain enough media to successfully dry the air.

These dryers are generally a single tank system that is fed with compressed air from a side port near the bottom of the tank.  The air then travels up past drip trays where the desiccant and water mixture fall and ultimately ends up in the bottom of the tank.  The air then goes through a material bed that must be kept at a given level in order to correctly absorb the moisture in the air.  The dry air is then pushed out the top of the tank.

As the desiccant material absorbs the liquid from the compressed air flowing through the tank it falls onto the drip trays and then into the bottom of the tank where it is drained out of the system.  This process can be seen in the image below.

 

Deliquescent type compressed air drying system
How a deliquescent air dryer works – 1(VMAC Air Innovated, 2017)

 

The dew point that this style dryer is able to achieve is dependent on several variables:

  • Compressed air temperature
  • Compressed air pressure / velocity
  • Size and configuration of the tank
  • Compression of the absorption media
  • Type of absorption media and age of media

These dryers are simplistic in their design because there are no moving parts as well as easy to install and carry a low startup cost.

Some disadvantages include:

  • Dewpoint range 20°F – 30°F (Again this is according to the media used.)
  • Dissolved absorption material can pose a disposal issue as it may not be able to be simply put down a drain
  • Replacement of the absorption material

Even with disadvantages the ability to supply the demand side of a compressed air system for a production facility is key to maintaining successful operations.  If you would like to discuss any type of compressed air dryer, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

1 – Deliquescent Dryer Image: VMAC Air Innovated: The Deliquescent Dryer – https://www.vmacair.com/blog/the-deliquescent-dryer/

 

Video Blog: Cleaning Gen4 Ionizing Bars

EXAIR’s Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife and Ionizing Bars are a great way to relieve static charges in your products and/or processes.  They are a very powerful, efficient design that will eliminate static charges and require only minimal maintenance to keep them performing at peak efficiency.

Check out the video below to see just how easy it is!

When you are looking for expert advice on your static relief application or any of our safe, quiet and efficient point of use compressed air products give us a call.   We would enjoy hearing from you!

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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Compressed Air Demand Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance for compressed air demand products is a simple as keeping the compressed air clean and condensate free. It is simple because all it takes is a filter and keeping the filter element clean, just like you do for your home furnace and/or air conditioner.

I received a phone call from a customer that needed replacement elements for EXAIR filters.  They were using four different models of Filter Separators and Oil Removal Filters.  The filters had been in service for one year, and the internal elements needed to be changed.  They requested a quote to replenish the replacement elements that they stocked as a preventative measurement.  What an idea!

Majority of EXAIR products use compressed air for cleaning, cooling, conveying, static elimination, coating and more.  To help keep your EXAIR products running efficiently, it is important to supply them with clean, dry, pressurized air.  EXAIR offers a line of Filter Separators and Oil Removal Filters to supply quality air to your equipment.  In this blog, I will explain the two types of filters that we carry and the maintenance requirements.  The filters and preventative measures can play an important part in your compressed air system.

Filter Separators are used to remove bulk liquid and contamination from the compressed air stream.  They utilize a 5-micron filter with a mechanical separation to help remove large amounts of dirt and water.  This type of filter would be considered the minimum requirement for filtration.  Most of the Filter Separators come with an auto-drain to automatically dispense the collection of oil and water.  EXAIR offers a variety of port sizes and flow ranges to meet your pneumatic flow requirement.  For maintenance, the filter elements should be changed once a year or when the pressure drop reaches 10 PSID, whichever comes first.  I created a list in Table 1 showing the correct replacement element kits for each model number.  And for any reason, if the bowl or internal components get damaged, we also have Rebuild Kits as well.  Just remember, the air quality is very important for longevity and functionality for pneumatic products and even for EXAIR products.

The Oil Removal Filters can make your compressed air even cleaner.  They work great at removing very small particles of dirt and oil.  They are made from glass fibers and can remove particles down to 0.01 micron.  They are designed to collect small particles and to coalesce the liquid particles into a large droplet for gravity to remove.  Because of the fine matrix, Oil Removal Filters are not great for bulk separation.  If you have a system with lots of oil and water, I would recommend to use the Filter Separator upstream of the Oil Removal Filter.  As with the Filter Separator, the filter element should be changed once a year or at a pressure drop of 10 PSID.  EXAIR also offers a variety of port sizes and flow ranges.  Table 1 below shows the replacement Element Kits as well as the Rebuild Kits.  If the application requires very clean compressed air, the Oil Removal Filter should be used.

Table 1

By using EXAIR filters, they will clean your compressed air to prevent cross contamination, performance issues, and premature failures.  As an ounce of prevention, you can add the replacement elements in stock and enter them in your preventative maintenance program.  With clean quality air, your pneumatic system and EXAIR products will provide you with effective, long-lasting performance without maintenance downtime.  If you would like to discuss the correct type of filters to use in your application, you can speak with an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to help you.

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

The Importance Of Air Compressor System Maintenance

It should go without saying, but proper operation of anything that has moving parts will depend on how well it’s maintained.  Compressed air systems are certainly no exception; in fact; they’re a critical example of the importance of proper maintenance, for two big reasons:

*Cost: compressed air, “the fourth utility,” is expensive to generate.  And it’s more expensive if it’s generated by a system that’s not operating as efficiently as it could.

*Reliability: Many industrial processes rely on clean or clean & dry air, at the right pressure, being readily available:

  • When a CNC machine trips offline in the middle of making a part because it loses air pressure, it has to be reset.  That means time that tight schedules may not afford, and maybe a wasted part.
  • The speed of pneumatic cylinders and tools are proportional to supply pressure.  Lower pressure means processes take longer.  Loss of pressure means they stop.
  • Dirt & debris in the supply lines will clog tight passages in air operated products.  It’ll foul and scratch cylinder bores.  And if you’re blowing off products to clean them, anything in your air flow is going to get on your products too.

Good news is, the preventive maintenance necessary to ensure optimal performance isn’t all that hard to perform.  If you drive a car, you’re already familiar with most of the basics:

*Filtration: air compressors don’t “make” compressed air, they compress air that already exists…this is called the atmosphere, and, technically, your air compressor is drawing from the very bottom of the “ocean” of air that blankets the planet.  Scientifically speaking, it’s filthy down here.  That’s why your compressor has an inlet/intake filter, and this is your first line of defense. If it’s dirty, your compressor is running harder, and costs you more to operate it.  If it’s damaged, you’re not only letting dirt into your system; you’re letting it foul & damage your compressor.  Just like a car’s intake air filter (which I replace every other time I change the oil,) you need to clean or replace your compressor’s intake air filter on a regular basis as well.

*Moisture removal: another common “impurity” here on the floor of the atmospheric “ocean” is water vapor, or humidity.  This causes rust in iron pipe supply lines (which is why we preach the importance of point-of-use filtration) and will also impact the operation of your compressed air tools & products.

  • Most industrial compressed air systems have a dryer to address this…refrigerated and desiccant are the two most popular types.  Refrigerant systems have coils & filters that need to be kept clean, and leaks are bad news not only for the dryer’s operation, but for the environment.  Desiccant systems almost always have some sort of regeneration cycle, but it’ll have to be replaced sooner or later.  Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on these.
  • Drain traps in your system collect trace amounts of moisture that even the best dryer systems miss.  These are typically float-operated, and work just fine until one sticks open (which…good news…you can usually hear quite well) or sticks closed (which…bad news…won’t make a sound.)  Check these regularly and, in conjunction with your dryers, will keep your air supply dry.

*Lubrication: the number one cause of rotating equipment failure is loss of lubrication.  Don’t let this happen to you:

  • A lot of today’s electric motors have sealed bearings.  If yours has grease fittings, though, use them per the manufacturer’s directions.  Either way, the first symptom of impending bearing failure is heat.  This is a GREAT way to use an infrared heat gun.  You’re still going to have to fix it, but if you know it’s coming, you at least get to say when.
  • Oil-free compressors have been around for years, and are very popular in industries where oil contamination is an unacceptable risk (paint makers, I’m looking at you.)  In oiled compressors, though, the oil not only lubricates the moving parts; it also serves as a seal, and heat removal medium for the compression cycle.  Change the oil as directed, with the exact type of oil the manufacturer calls out.  This is not only key to proper operation, but the validity of your warranty as well.

*Cooling:  the larger the system, the more likely there’s a cooler installed.  For systems with water-cooled heat exchangers, the water quality…and chemistry…is critical.  pH and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) should be checked regularly to determine if chemical additives, or flushing, are necessary.

*Belts & couplings: these transmit the power of the motor to the compressor, and you will not have compressed air without them, period.  Check their alignment, condition, and tension (belts only) as specified by the manufacturer.  Keeping spares on hand isn’t a bad idea either.

Optimal performance of your compressed air products literally starts with your compressor system.  Proper preventive maintenance is key to maximizing it.  Sooner or later, you’re going to have to shut down any system to replace a moving (or wear) part.  With a sound preventive maintenance plan in place, you have a good chance of getting to say when.

If you’d like to talk about other ways to optimize the performance of your compressed air system,  give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Image courtesy of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet, Creative Commons License 

If at First You Don’t Succeed Try, Try Again!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been going back and forth with my phone provider over some technical issues I’ve been having with the device. After some troubleshooting, we were able to conclude that the antenna has likely become loose, leading to the phone periodically not receiving service. Naturally, we’re outside of the 1-Year “Warranty” period that covers a defective device. I paid my insurance deductible and received a “refurbished” phone the following day. Unfortunately, this refurbished phone was unable to take pictures with the front-facing camera. I know what you’re thinking, how on Earth can I take selfies without a front-facing camera? So it was back to the phone provider to get another replacement, fortunately this time they sent a brand new device.

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get something to work right out of the box, only to experience issues. Whenever a customer is having an issue with a particular product, there’s a certain progression that we go through in order to assess the problem and determine the root cause. In some cases it is something simple, others it can be a few individual problems that are compounding each other. I recently assisted a customer that was having problems with his 110 Gallon Reversible Drum Vac System. He was having difficulty pumping water out of a container and into the 110 gallon drum. He stated that he just received the unit and was unable to get it to work.

RDV pic
EXAIR’s Reversible Drum Vac installed on a 110 Gallon Drum

This is a call that we get from time to time, and is generally remedied pretty quickly. Our first step is to check the air pressure at the inlet of the Reversible Drum Vac while it is operating. We recommend an inlet pressure of at least 80 PSIG for proper operation. By installing a pipe tee with a pressure gauge directly at the unit, we can not only verify the inlet pressure but also that the Reversible Drum Vac is being supplied with an adequate volume of compressed air. If the pressure on the gauge begins to decrease once the unit is in operation, we can conclude that the volume of compressed air to the Reversible Drum Vac is insufficient. This can be due to the use of restrictive quick disconnect fittings, improper line size, or a compressor that is undersized.

If the air supply is sufficient, we then inspect the system for vacuum leaks. If the drum does not have a complete seal, the system will not function. If there’s no vacuum leak and there is an adequate supply of compressed air, the Reversible Drum Vac likely needs to be cleaned. It took us a few tries to get there but through a little bit of trial and error, we were able to determine that this was exactly the case in this scenario. Even though the system was new, it had been supplied with compressed air that was not properly filtered. Some scale, rust and debris from the customer’s supply lines made its way into the body of the Reversible Drum Vac, impeding the flow of air. Here is a video that shows the cleaning procedure for the Reversible Drum Vac. Over time the Reversible Drum Vac can accumulate debris inside of the plenum chamber. Regular maintenance of the unit will ensure that it stays within specifications for when it’s needed most!

If you have an EXAIR product that’s not performing as well as it used to, give us a call. One of the Application Engineers will be able to walk you through the steps to ensure that you’re getting the most out of our products!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: tylerdaniel@exair.com
LinkedIn: @EXAIR_TD

Maintenance Free And Proud Of It

Caller: Do you sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, but…why?

This is a WAY oversimplified summary of the start of a popular conversation that an EXAIR Application Engineer might have with a caller looking to restore a particular product to proper operation. Truth is, most of our products have no moving parts, and if you supply them with clean, dry air, they’ll run maintenance free, darn near indefinitely. We’ve documented this in specific cases regarding a Reversible Drum Vac from 1999, a Vortex Tube from 1987, and a Cold Gun from 1985.

Product & year of manufacture, from top left: Reversible Drum Vac (1999,) Cold Gun (1985,) Vortex Tube (1987.) All still performing within factory specifications.
Product & year of manufacture, from top left: Reversible Drum Vac (1999,) Cold Gun (1985,) Vortex Tube (1987.) All still performing within factory specifications.

Caller: So…DO you sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, but…only when necessary.

It’s important to note that none of the products mentioned above needed any parts replaced to return to service. Sometimes, a good cleaning is all that’s required. We can help you with a video tutorial if you want to know how to restore a Reversible Drum Vac, an Air Knife, or an Atomizing Spray Nozzle, for instance.  And we’re making new videos all the time for product maintenance, operation, tips & tricks, etc.

Caller (again): So…you DO sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, of course!  I mean, who wouldn’t sell rebuild kits for their products?

Take our Safety Air Guns, for example. We offer Service Kits, if the trigger and/or internal valve of a Soft Grip or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun starts to wear or leak, it’s super easy to replace. We’ve also got replacement springs for the “fail shut” feature of the ball valve of a Super Blast Safety Air Gun. Just about anything else that could be wrong with a Safety Air Gun’s performance can be addressed by cleaning the nozzle.

We also recently added Rebuild Kits for our Atomizing Spray Nozzles to inventory. These contain all of the seals (and moving parts, for the No-Drip models) to restore an EXAIR Spray Nozzle to rated performance.

Keep your EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzle (left) in perfect working order with a simple & inexpensive Rebuilt Kit (right of the nozzle.) Contact an Application Engineer to select the one for your product.

For other products, we can also provide replacement gaskets & seals for the Reversible Drum Vac & Chip Trapper products, O-rings for the Line Vacs, Chip Vacs, and Heavy Duty Dry Vacs, new elements for Filter Separators & Oil Removal Filters…just to name a few.

Bottom line: if your EXAIR product isn’t performing the way it used to, give me a call.  It will be my pleasure to help you get it working like new, so that you can continue to get the most out of it.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Here’s what the Freon-based Air Conditioner Manufacturers Won’t Tell You

Many times when we are asked to make a comparison of our Cabinet Cooler Systems to Freon-based Cooling Systems for electrical panels, the customer only wants to know what the energy consumption will be as this is their only focus.

But what most Freon cooling system owners don’t seem to be concerned about, until it is too late, is the maintenance headache that Freon-based cooling systems present to their maintenance schedule, personnel and production schedule.  Below is just one example of what a typical industrial Freon-based Cabinet Cooling system user must go through each month just to keep their panels cool enough to keep production going.

A Freon cooling system user contacted me about a problem they have with their existing units. The setting is a machine shop located somewhere in Indonesia where the temperatures can exceed 40°C and Relative Humidity Levels around 85%. They have 4 units keeping a bank of panels cool for a transfer line which includes CNC machining centers. Photo showing coolers installed below.

AC 3 and 4 Cleaning (6)
Freon Panel Coolers on Transfer Line

The problem they have is that the dirt, dust and coolant which are present, deposit on the internal workings of the Freon Coolers, reducing their cooling efficiency to a point where over-heat condition becomes a problem. This occurs so frequently that the customer is having to completely remove and clean all 4 Freon cooling units for a full 8 hour shift, 1 day every month. That’s almost 3 weeks of lost production per year!  Obviously, that is a huge drag on the customer’s productivity.

IMG_1708
Dirt and Coolant collect on inside reducing cooling efficiency

And so, a certain amount of buyer’s remorse pervades for those folks who own and have to maintain Freon system just to keep their production up and running.

So, what does EXAIR offer?  EXAIR’s Cabinet Cooler Systems offer the customer freedom from all of this downtime, maintenance and loss of productivity. How?

  1. We are selling reliability with our Cabinet Cooler systems. No maintenance is required on the cooler system or on the cabinet to which it is installed. Because there are no moving parts to wear out. A simple, periodic check on a compressed air filter element is all that is necessary.
  2. We are selling the fact that our Cabinet Cooler Systems maintain a positive pressure on the customer’s panel. This condition keeps all of this dirt, coolant spray and any other contamination out due to the positive pressure that is placed on the panel while the Cabinet Cooler System is operating. Air is always moving from inside the panel to the outside, so dust, dirt and other debris never has a chance to enter through vents or other openings.
  3. We are selling longevity with our Cabinet Cooler Systems. Because there are no moving parts, the life span of EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems is in the range of 20+ years. The Freon based systems operating under these mildly harsh conditions will last 5 years at most. So in the life span of one EXAIR Cabinet Cooler, the Freon cooling system user will have been through at least 4 different units during that time. And still have all the monthly maintenance hassle come along with it.

The general point I wish to make with this real-world example is to think about the total cost of ownership when considering your next panel cooling system purchase. It is not all about energy consumption. Energy use is important, but by no means should that be your only consideration when deciding on what type of panel cooling system is right for you as the person charged with keeping the overall production line up and running.

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com
@EXAIR_NR