The Makeup of Earth’s Air

Most people know that oxygen, makes up about 20% of the earth’s atmosphere at sea level, and that almost all the rest is nitrogen. But did you know there’s an impressive list of other gases in the air we breathe

whats in air
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. But because water vapor is 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 third place!

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.

But here at EXAIR we care about how compressed air can be used efficiently to better your process! 

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 to ionize than nitrogen.  You can certainly supply a Gen4 Static Eliminator with pure nitrogen if you wish, but the static dissipation rate may be lesser.

If you want to learn more about the compressed air or any of our point of use compressed air products, you can contact an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to help you.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Air photo courtesy of Barney Moss Creative Commons License

EXAIR, Manufacturing Locally Equals Quick Customizations

Dryer with corn cob material

A manufacturing company contacted EXAIR about their metal tube processing. They made industrial precision tubes from start to finish. This would include turning, cutting, coating, washing and drying metal tubes to specific diameters and lengths.

For one specific problem area, they manufactured a tube with the dimensions of 1” (25.4mm) in diameter and 6” (152mm) in length. They would run a batch of 750 tubes through a wash cycle and then through a vibrating dryer with a drying material made from corn cobs. At the bottom of the vibrating dryer, the tubes would fall to an open mesh shaker table to transfer the tubes to Quality Control. The idea was to remove the excess cob material from the surface of the tubes before inspection and to recycle the drying material. But the problem was static.

When non-conductive materials slide, hit, peel, and vibrate; electrons from the surface can move from one atom to another; thus, creating static. The type of material and the amount of movement governs the positive and negative charges, and the amount of static forces.

The corn cob material is a non-conductive material, but what about the metal tubes? Since the metal tubes were coated for corrosion and abrasion protection, the surface is now a non-conductive area which will contain static. Since opposite charges attract each other, the cob material would cling to the outside surface of the metal tubes (reference photo below). Being a precision tube manufacturer, they did not want to send “dirty” tubes to their customers or allow the drying material to contaminate their measuring equipment. And, with the required quality control, the measurements had to be exact.

Tubes with cob material

The shaker table was 8 feet (2.4 meters) long and 2 feet (0.6 meter) wide with rigid walls. The top of the shaker table was covered with a canvas to allow for a vacuum system to collect the excess material and dust. About half way down, there was a 2” (51mm) drop to help jolt additional cob material off of the tubes as they landed. But the static forces were too strong to release the material. Thus, the static had to be removed from the surface, so they contacted EXAIR to see if we could find a solution.

They sent photos of their setup which always helps us to diagnose and find solutions. The target place that they suggested would be near the 2” (51mm) drop as the tubes would be suspended for just a moment. My recommendation was to use a Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife to blow ionized air around the tubes as they fell. By blowing air, we can use the non-contact force to remove the static and the cob material at the same time. But we had two issues to overcome. The width was fixed at 2 feet (0.6 meter), and the operation controls were 10 feet (3 meters) away from the mid-section of the shaker table.

Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives

EXAIR stocks many Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives ranging from 3” (76mm) to 108” (2.74meters) in incremental lengths for quick shipments. But our standard 24″ product was not able to fit inside that area nor was the five foot electrical cable long enough to reach the control panel. (As a note, it was important for the operator to be able to manually turn on and off the unit from the control panel.)

EXAIR uses an electromagnetically shielded cable to carry high voltage from our Gen4 Power Supply to our shockless, non-radioactive Gen4 Ionizing Bar. Our  stocked length for our armored cable is 5 feet (1.5 meter). After discussing the amount of movement with the table and the desired distance to the control panel, EXAIR could not use an item off the shelf. But not to worry… Since we are the manufacturer, we have the ability to make a special design for this customer.

Super Ion Air Knife Part Numbering System

I recommended a model 112220-10 special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife Kit. (Reference model numbering system above). Specials are non-returnable and non-cancelable, but for this customer, it was exactly what they needed. The Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives are engineered to efficiently blow ionized air to the target and remove static charge and debris.

For this special model, it was made to a specific width where the Super Air Knife was manufactured to a length of 20” (508mm), and the high voltage cable was lengthened to 10 feet (3 meters). The kit includes the Gen4 Power Supply to power the Ionizing Bar, a filter to clean the compressed air, a regulator to control the force, and a shim set to change force rates. This complete kit had everything required to begin operations to remove static and cob material from their precision tubes. The customer was able to mount the special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife within the shaker table and mount the power supply near the control panel.

Static can be an issue even with coated metal parts. For the customer above, EXAIR was able to make a special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife to work in their system. If you believe that static is causing issues, EXAIR has a great range of Gen4 Static Eliminators to remove that nuisance. You can discuss further with an Application Engineer as EXAIR for help; even if you need a custom product.

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

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

What is a GEN4 Ion Air Cannon?

Quite simply the GEN4 Ion Air Cannon is based on the mechanics of the 2″ diameter Super Air Amplifier that has static reduction capabilities and as its name implies it amplifies the supply air up to 25 times!

This highly engineered product is very effective at cleaning product and reducing static at distances of up to 15′ away.

GEN4 IAC

The GEN4 Ion Air Cannon comes in a handy stand/mounting unit for easy installation in a wide variety of applications. It can be mounted to machine frames, mounted out of the way from a process, or placed on a bench top.

GEN4 IAC Dimensions

The GEN4 Super Ion Air Cannon can work with as little as 10 PSI supply pressure.

GEN4 IAC Performance

The GEN4 Ion Air Cannon is used in many applications such as bottling, manufacturing of solar panels and preparing new automobile car bodies to be painted – to name a few. Wherever static reduction and/or cleaning is required the Ion Air Cannon can contribute.

It is offered in a kit that can include the 7960 power supply, pressure regulator for fine adjustments, filter/separator to keep the air clean and dry and a shim set for gross adjustments or just the GEN4 Ion Air Cannon and the 7960 power supply.  Of course all components are also available individually.

If you would like to discuss reducing static and/or cleaning materials, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer

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