Measuring And Adding Sound Levels Together

What sound level do you get when you feed an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle at 80psig? What if there are two of them?  Or three?  Grab your scientific calculators, folks…we’re gonna ‘math’ today!

But first, a little explanation of sound power & sound pressure:

Strictly speaking, power is defined as energy per unit time, and is used to measure energy generation or consumption.  In acoustics, though, sound power is applicable to the generation of the sound…how much sound is being MADE by a noisy operation.

Sound pressure is the way acoustics professionals quantify the intensity of the sound power at the target.  For the purposes of most noise reduction discussions, the target is “your ears.”

The sound levels that we publish are measured at a distance of 3 feet from the product, to the side.  The units we use are decibels, corrected for “A” weighting (which accounts for how the human ear perceives the intensity of the sound, which varies for different frequencies,) or dBA.  Also, decibels follow a logarithmic scale, which means two important things:

  • A few decibels’ worth of change result in a “twice as loud” perception to your ears.
  • Adding sources of sound doesn’t double the decibel level.

If you want to know how the sound level from a single source is calculated, those calculations are found here.  For the purposes of this blog, though, we’re going to assume a user wants to know what the resultant sound level is going to be if they add a sound generating device to their current (known) situation.

Combined Sound Level (dBA) = 10 x log10[10SL1/10 + 10SL2/10 + 10SL3/10 …]

Let’s use an EXAIR Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle (rated at 74dBA) as an example, and let’s say we have one in operation, and want to add another.  What will be the increase in dBA?

10 x log10[1074/10 + 1074/10] = 77.65 dBA

Now, there are two reasons I picked the Model 1100 as an example:

  • It’s one of our most versatile products, with a wide range of applications, and a proven track record of efficiency, safety, and sound level reduction.
  • We proved out the math in a real live experiment:

Why do I care about all of this?  My Dad experienced dramatic hearing loss from industrial exposure at a relatively young age…he got his first hearing aids in his early 40’s…so I saw, literally up close and very personal, what a quality of life issue that can be.  The fact that I get to use my technical aptitude to help others lower industrial noise exposure is more than just making a living.  It’s something I’m passionate about.  If you want to talk about sound level reduction in regard to your use of compressed air, talk to me.  Please.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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What’s So Great About Air Entrainment?

Air entrainment is the phenomenon that occurs when air (or any gas) under pressure is released from a device in such a way that a low pressure is generated in the immediate area of the air (or gas) discharge.  Air (or gas) from the surrounding environment is then pulled (or entrained) into the discharged air stream, increasing its volumetric flow rate.  EXAIR Corporation has been engineering & manufacturing compressed air products to take maximum advantage of this phenomena since 1983…and we’ve gotten better & better at it over the past 36 years.

Obviously, the first thing that’s so great about air entrainment is…free air flow.  Every cubic foot that’s entrained means that’s a cubic foot that your compressor didn’t have to spend energy compressing.  Considering the EXAIR Super Air Knife’s entrainment ratio of 40:1, that makes for a VERY efficient use of your compressed air.

Another thing that’s so great about air entrainment is…it’s quiet.  As you can see from the graphic at the top of this blog, the Super Air Knife entrains air (the lighter, curved blue arrows) into the primary compressed air stream (the darker, straight blue arrows) from above and below.  The outer layers of the total developed flow are lower in velocity, and serve as a sound-attenuating boundary layer.  The sound level of a Super Air Knife (any length…here’s why) is only 69dBA.  That means if you’re talking with someone and a Super Air Knife is running right next to you, you can still use your “inside voice” and continue your conversation, unaffected by the sound of the air flow.

I always thought it would be helpful to have more than just a graphic with blue arrows to show the effect & magnitude of air entrainment.  A while back, I accidentally stumbled across a stunning visual depiction of just that, using a Super Air Knife.  I had the pleasure of talking with a caller about how effective a Super Air Knife might be in blowing light gauge paperboard pieces.  So I set one up in the EXAIR Demo Room, blowing straight upwards, and tossed paper plates into the air flow.  It worked just as expected, until one of the paper plates got a little closer to the Super Air Knife than I had planned:

As you can see, the tremendous amount of air flow being entrained…from both sides…was sufficient to pull in lightweight objects and ‘stick’ them to the surface that the entrained air was being drawn past.  While it doesn’t empirically prove the 40:1 ratio, it indisputably demonstrates that an awful lot of air is moving there.

If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient, and OSHA compliant solution for cleaning, blow off, drying, cooling…anything you need an even, consistent curtain of air flow for – look no further than the EXAIR Super Air Knife.  If you’d like to discuss a particular application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Digital Sound Level Meters Measure Noise Exposure Levels

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Digital Sound Meter

EXAIR offers the model 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter.  It is an easy to use instrument for measuring and monitoring the sound level pressures in and around equipment and other manufacturing processes.

Sound meters convert the movement of a thin membrane due to the pressure waves of sound into an electric signal that is processed and turned into a readable output, typically in dBA.  The dBA scale is the weighted scale that most closely matches the human ear in terms of the sounds and frequencies that can be detected.

Noise induced hearing loss can be a significant problem for many workers in manufacturing and mining. To protect workers in the workplace from suffering hearing loss OSHA has set limits to the time of exposure based on the sound level.  The information in the OSHA Standard 29 CFR – 1910.95(a) is summarized below.

OSHA Noise Level

The EXAIR Digital Sound Level Meter is an accurate and responsive instrument that measures the decibel level of the sound and displays the result on the large optionally back-lit LCD display. There is an “F/S” option to provide measurement in either ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ modes for stable or quickly varying noises. The ‘Max Hold’ function will capture and hold the maximum sound level, and update if a louder sound occurs.

Certification of accuracy and calibration traceable to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) is included.

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

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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What is Sound and Interesting Facts About Sound

In physics, sound is a wave of pressure. It occurs in a medium, which can be a solid, liquid or gas. Sound cannot travel through a vacuum, such as in space. The wave of pressure reaches our ears and causes the ear drum to vibrate, which then goes through a complex process to ultimately be perceived as audible sound.

There are several characteristics of sound waves that can be measured and help define the sound. A sound wave can be visualized as a repeating sinusoidal wave (see below), and can be described by these properties – frequency and wavelength, amplitude, and speed.

Sound Wave
Sound Wave

  • Frequency is the number of cycles in 1 second, and is measured in Hertz (Hz)
  • Wavelength is the distance over which 1 cycle occurs, and for audible sound is  between 17 m and 17 mm long
  • Amplitude is the measure of its change over a single period, and normally a measure of sound loudness
  • Speed is the distance traveled per unit time

The speed of sound in air can be found using the equation:  a = Sqrt (γ•R•T)

where for air:
γ = ratio of specific heats = 1.4,
R = gas constant = 286 m²/s²/K
T = absolute temperature in °K (273.15 + °C)

At room temperature, 22°C (71.6°F), the speed of sound is 343.8 m/s (760 mph)

Some interesting facts about sound:

  • Sounds generally travels faster in solids and liquids than in gases.
  • You can estimate the distance from a lightning strike by counting the seconds that pass between seeing the lightning flash and hearing the thunder.  Take this duration an divide by 5 to get the distance away, in miles.
  • Humans normally hear sound frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.
  • Sound waves above 20,000 Hz are known as ultrasound, and sound waves below 20 Hz are known as infrasound.
  • Sound travel through water close to 4 times faster then through air.
  • The sound of a cracking whip occurs because the speed of the tip has exceeded the speed of sound.

Sound that is too loud can be a problem. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set limits on the noise exposure that an employee can be subjected. Exceeding these values can cause permanent damage to your ears and cause noise induced hearing loss. So, knowing and reducing the sound levels within a manufacturing operation is important.

OSHA Chart

EXAIR has many products that can help reduce the sound levels in your processes.  With products such Air Knives, Air Wipes, Air Amplifiers, Air Nozzles and Jets, and Safety Air Guns, strong, quiet and efficient blowoff, drying, and cooling can be performed.

Quiet Products

If you have questions about sound and keeping your sound levels in check or any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, 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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