Compressed Air Supply Side: What Is A Deliquescent Dryer, And When Would You Use One?

As we head in to the colder months here in Ohio, I will soon be getting my humidifier out of the basement and set up in my bedroom. The dry air that accompanies the onset of winter chaps my lips, cracks the skin on my knuckles, affects my nasal passages, and oftentimes makes me wake up with a sore throat…something I definitely don’t want to happen in the middle of a pandemic! So I put some water vapor in my home’s air, on purpose, to take care of all of that.

Moisture in an industrial compressed air system, however, isn’t good for anything.  It’ll corrode your pipes, get rust in your pneumatic tools, motors, and cylinders, and spit out of your blow off devices, all over whatever you’re using your air to blow off.  Depending on the type of compressor, where, and how, it’s used, there are different types of dryers.  Today, dear reader, we’re taking a look at one of the most basic moisture removal systems: the deliquescent dryer.  The principle of operation is as follows:

  • Deliquescent dryer: how it works (1)
    Incoming compressed air enters near the base, where a form of mechanical separation occurs…the air flows back & forth, around trays of desiccant.  The simple act of changing direction causes a certain amount of free liquid to just fall out and collect in the bottom.
  • The air then flows upwards through the desiccant bed. The desiccant in a deliquescent dryer absorbs moisture (as opposed to the adsorption that occurs in a regenerative desiccant dryer) until they get so wet, they dissolve.
  • The desiccant level has to be monitored (commonly via a sight glass) so it can be replaced as it’s consumed.
  • After the desiccant does its job, moisture free air flows out the top, and gets on with it’s work.

Deliquescent dryers, owing to their simplicity, are the least expensive air dryers.  They have no moving parts and no electricity, so the only maintenance involved is replacing the desiccant media as it’s consumed.  This makes them especially popular in mobile/on-site applications involving portable or tow-behind, engine driven compressors, since they don’t need power to run.

There are several disadvantages, also owing to their simplicity:

  • The deliquescent media has to be periodically replenished.  If you don’t stay on top of it, you can find yourself shut down while you go back to the shop to get a big bag of salt.  That’s time your boss can’t charge your customer for.  Also, the cost of the new media is a continual operating cost of the dryer…something you don’t have to account for with the regenerative desiccant models.
  • Disposal of the waste media can be a concern…you definitely want to check your local environmental regulations before dumping it in the garbage.  Your boss won’t like talking to the EPA about THAT either.
  • They have to be equipped with a particulate filter on the discharge to keep the deliquescent media (which, being a salt, is corrosive in nature) from entering your system.  That would be even worse than water moisture…which this is there to prevent in the first place.
  • They don’t get near as low of a dewpoint as other dryers – the best you can hope for is 20°F to 30°F.  Which is fine, given the above mentioned nature of applications where these are commonly used.  You just wouldn’t want to use them to supply a product like an EXAIR Vortex Tube…which can turn that in to -40°F cold air, causing the water vapor to turn to liquid, and then to ice.  In a hurry.

EXAIR Corporation is in the business of helping you get the most out of your compressed air.  If you want to learn more, please follow our blog.  If you have specific questions, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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(1) – Deliquescent Dryer Image: VMAC Air Innovated: The Deliquescent Dryer – https://www.vmacair.com/blog/the-deliquescent-dryer/

EXAIR Celebrates Manufacturing Day With A Win For A Manufacturer

In 2012, the National Association of Manufacturers organized an effort to proclaim the first Friday in October (hey, that’s today!) as Manufacturing Day.  According to the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (a division of NIST, the National Institute of Standards & Testing,) the purpose of MFG Day is “to raise awareness among students, parents, educators and the general public about modern manufacturing and the rewarding careers available.”

Today is kind of a big deal around here.  Not only is EXAIR Corporation a manufacturer, but many of the companies that use our products are as well.  A lot of us have a rich story, woven into the cloth of the history of American manufacturing (which, in turn, is woven into the larger cloth of American history.)  Have you heard the one about the motivated inventor with an idea to make innovative products who started an operation out of his home that, with inspired direction & vision, became a worldwide leader in their industry?

Yeah; that’s us.  Today, we’re honoring Roy Sweeney’s legacy (he founded the company in October 1983,) and celebrating MFG Day, by publishing a new Case Study, proving out the benefits of the use of EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products in regard to the monetary savings associated with the reduction in compressed air use, and the noise level reduction from the implementation of our engineered products.

You can download the complete Case Study here, but while we’re on the subject, here’s a basic rundown:

  • A roll forming operation used to blow off their product with a combination of loud and inefficient devices: copper tubing and modular flexible hose which is designed primarily for machine tool coolant, but often misapplied for use with compressed air.
  • It worked just fine, but an engineering study noted it as a potential wasteful use of compressed air.  That’s when they called us.
  • By replacing those blow offs with Model 1100 Super Air Nozzles and Model 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles, their noise levels dropped from 107 dBA to 83.8 dBA.  To put that in perspective, it went from the approximate sound level of a rock concert to that of a leaf blower. (ref: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: What Causes Hearing Loss?)
  • Compressed air consumption dropped by more than half, from 190 SCFM to 86.8 SCFM…an annual savings of over $3,200.00.  All for an investment of $654.00 (2020 pricing) for those engineered Air Nozzles, Stay Set Hoses, and Magnetic Bases.  That means they’ll have paid for themselves in just under two months.
  • In addition to that, for participation in this Case Study, we’re giving them a generous credit on their order.  Happy Manufacturing Day!

And frankly, I think the engineered products just look better too.

Last but certainly not least, this reduction in compressed air usage decreases the load on their air compressors, reducing the electrical power consumed.  Product impact, along with our own consumption of resources and waste recycling, is a key component of EXAIR Corporation’s Sustainability Plan.  We’re making the world a better place, by making products that make the world a better place, using methods that make the world a better place.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Manufacturing Day.  If you want to get in on it, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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MFG Day logo courtesy of nist.gov

Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 3 – Use Efficient and Quiet Engineered Products

Compressed air is expensive, and you should treat it that way.  Frequent readers of the EXAIR Blog are familiar with our Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, and you may have seen these recent installments on Steps 1 and 2:

Six Steps to Optimization: Step 1 – Measure the Air Consumption

Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 2 – Find and Fix Leaks

Now, there isn’t a strict order in which you MUST perform these steps, and they’re not all applicable in every air system (looking at you, Step 5: Use Intermediate Storage,) but these are likely the steps that a certified auditor will take, and the order in which they’ll take them.  If you’re looking for immediate, quantifiable results, though, Step 3 is a great place to start.  Consider:

  • A 1/4″ copper tube blow off can consume as much as 33 SCFM when supplied with compressed air at 80psig.  It’ll give you a good, strong blow off, for sure.  You can crimp the end and get that down to, say, 20 SCFM or so.  Or, you can install a Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle with a compression fitting, and drop that to just 14 SCFM.
    • If you’re tracking your compressed air usage, you’ll see that replacing just one of them saves you 45,600 Standard Cubic Feet worth of compressed in one 5 day (8 hour a day) work week.  That’s $11.40 in air generation cost savings, for a $42 (2020 List Price) investment.
    • If you spend time in the space where it’s installed, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in the noise situation.  That sound level from the copper tube is likely over 100 dBA; the Super Air Nozzle’s is only 74 dBA.

This user was only a handful of compression fittings & nozzles away from over $800 in annual compressed air savings.

  • Drilled pipes are another common method to create a blow off.  They’re easy & cheap, but loud & expensive to operate.
    • A pipe drilled with 1/8″ holes and supplied @80psig will consume 13 SCFM per hole, and the holes are typically drilled on 1/2″ centers.
    • An EXAIR Super Air Knife consumes only 2.9 SCFM per inch of length, and because it’s an engineered product, it’s a LOT quieter as well.  Drilled pipes are, essentially, open ended blow offs just like the copper tube mentioned above.  When you let compressed air out of a hole like that, all the potential energy of the pressure is converted to force…and noise.
    • Drilled pipes are among the worst offenders; almost always well in excess of 100 dBA.  Super Air Knives generate a sound level of only 69 dBA with 80psig compressed air supply.  They are, in fact, the quietest compressed air blowing product on the market today.

This Model 110048 48″ Aluminum Super Air Knife replaced a drilled pipe for over $5,000 annual compressed air savings.

These aren’t just theoretical “for instances” either – the data, and the photos above, come from actual Case Studies we’ve performed with real live users of our products.  You can find them here, and here (registration required.)

These are two examples of EXAIR product users who only used Step 3 of our Six Steps, although BOTH of them were already practicing Step 4 (Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use)…they had their blow offs supplied through solenoid valves that were wired into the respective machine controls, and the Air Knife user HAD to do Step 6 (Control the air pressure at the point of use) to keep their product from being blown clear off the conveyor..

But we’ll be happy to help you with optimizing your compressed air system using any or all of the Six Steps. Give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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How To Plumb and Use EXAIR Model 9040 Foot Valve

If you’re looking for a convenient, hands-free (but still operator controlled) method of operating a compressed air product, look no further than the EXAIR Model 9040 Foot Valve. Here’s how to install and operate it:

This is one of many ways we can help you optimize, automate, and simplify your use of your compressed air.  If you’ve got an application you’d like assistance with, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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