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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Super Air Knife Makes EVERYTHING Better

When we compare the EXAIR Super Air Knife to other methods of providing a curtain or sheet of air flow in terms of operating cost, efficiency, safety, and sound levels, the Super Air Knife is ALWAYS the clear choice.

The EXAIR Super Air Knife is the most efficient and quietest compressed air blow off product on the market today.

The Super Air Knives successfully replace these, and many other methods of providing a curtain or sheet of air flow all the time, while saving compressed air and decreasing noise.  The word “replace” oftentimes means “do the same job as.”

What you’re about to read is NOT one of those times.

A paper products manufacturer has a machine that treats a specialty product, and the process generates ozone (O3) at levels that would exceed personnel exposure limits, so they need to be contained.  They installed a long piece of drilled pipe to blow an air barrier, but they could only run the machine at about 65% of their desired capacity before the ozone level in the operators’ area exceeded their limits.

This company was familiar with several of our product lines already…they had several Cabinet Cooler Systems, a Reversible Drum Vac, and Super Air Knives in a variety of applications, so they knew how they worked.  Since the barrier needed to be 120″ long, though, this was going to be a much larger scale than they were used to.

Not only was the drilled pipe loud and inefficient, it was not particularly effective either.

Still, the installation of two Model 110060 60″ Aluminum Super Air Knives, coupled with our Model 110900 Air Knife Coupling Kit, was quick and easy.  Then came the good part: they found they were able to operate the machine at 100% capacity, while keeping the ozone at a safe level in the operators’ area.

EXAIR Super Air Knives provided a total solution: quiet, efficient, and most of all, EFFECTIVE.

Then came the better part:  The machine was pretty loud (we couldn’t do anything about that,) at 93dBA when it was running.  With the drilled pipe in operation, it was 94.5dBA.  When they took that out and installed the Super Air Knives, there was no net increase in noise level…it remained at 93dBA.

THEN came the even better part: Compressed air consumption was reduced to about 30% of what the drilled pipe was using.  Right in line with our table above.  Just another validation of the trustworthiness of our published data.  As EXAIR’s President is fond of saying, “Claims are easy, proof is hard.”

If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient – and effective – solution for a compressed air product application, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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How Does the Process of Static Elimination Work?

4 R UMAX PL-II V1.4 [3]

 

One of our overseas distributors provides solutions for a customer who has bought quite a few of the Ion Air Guns for their production. The customer raised a question for which our distributor requested help to answer. The customer asked, “What exactly is going on in the process, when you blow ions on an item?” There is a large interest in these products and they are interested know more. It is not, that they are afraid of the procedure, they just wonder what physically happens, so my question to you is: Could you write an explanation on what happens within the static eliminating equipment when it is energized?

For the answer, you have to go back to high school science class to remember the definition of an ion. An ion is an an electrically charged atom or group of atoms formed by the loss or gain of one or more electrons. Put simply, it is an atom with either extra or fewer electrons than it is supposed to have normally. This excess or deficit of electrons makes the molecule attract electrically to atoms or molecules with the opposite charge. Too many electrons = negative charge. Too few = positive charge.

Gases can form ions as a result of an electrical charge. Gas ions are defined as such: one of the electrically charged particles formed in a gas by electric discharge or the like. The atoms we are creating with our static eliminators are oxygen ions or “ozone”. Due to the AC waveform of the electrical supply, the power supply generates 50 Hz signal that produces both positive and negative ions, depending on the phase of the electrical supply. In this way, our static eliminators produce ozone which can eliminate static of either polarity.

What happens at the atomic level is the ions we create are attracted to and combine with the electrostatic field present on material which has a static charge. The electrostatic field present on insulating materials is present because of two possibilities. Either there was some contact & separation of materials, friction (like rubbing a balloon on the hair), or there was a separation of two insulating materials which were previously in intimate (close) contact with one another (like peeling a protective film from a surface). When this happens, the electrons will move from one material surface to another based on their potential to gain or lose electrons (reference Triboelectric Series). The balance of the surface electrons becomes unbalanced as the electrons at the outer layers will be knocked out of their home orbit and take up with another atom to make it negative, thus leaving the previously neutral atom in a positive state.

When one applies a static eliminating ions from one of our products on to an application where static is causing a problem, they are providing those needed electrons to help the charged material balance itself out. The reason that it happens to insulating materials is because they cannot conduct an electrical signal and so the electrical charge remains on the surface until it is dissipated by active means like our static eliminators or by natural means (a much slower process) where air molecules floating around the charged surface will lower the overall charge to a point until it reaches a point of electrical balance. So, our ionizers (also known as static eliminators) simply speed that process up immensely and eliminate static charges in a fraction of a second. 

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

 

Is My Static Eliminator Working?

Winter is settling in on us, slowly but surely, here in Cincinnati. As I write, it’s 39F and overcast outside…not nearly as harsh as it’s going to get, come mid-January. With the dropping temperatures comes a decrease in humidity levels, especially inside, where our heaters inconveniently rob our air of its moisture content. This leads to chapped lips and dry skin for us, and a higher propensity for static charge to build up on non-conductive surfaces. It’s then that we find ourselves at the onset of “Static Season,” when the volume of calls regarding our Static Eliminator product line (and, hopefully, sales of said products) increases.

A good number of those calls come from existing users, too, which is great, because we’re genuinely interested in problem-solving, and making sure that folks get the most out of our products. A popular question is, “How do I know if my Static Eliminator is working properly?” There are a few ways to determine this:

The easiest, quickest, and most sure-fire way is to measure the actual level of static charge, “before and after,” with EXAIR’s Digital Static Meter. It’s a convenient, hand-held, battery-operated instrument that indicates the surface voltage and polarity when held 1” away from the object.

Another easy and quick method to check for proper operation of a Static Eliminator is to sniff for the presence of ozone near the device’s emitter point(s). With the compressed air source turned off (for safety, of course, but for no small measure of comfort as well), you’ll be able to smell the distinct odor of ozone – it’s been described as pungent, sweet, or metallic. It’s the same smell around your copy machine after a load of copies.

If you’re handy with a multi-meter, you can also check for proper voltage at the emitter point(s). We have a step-by-step guide to show how it’s done; contact an Application Engineer to get a copy.

If any of the above trials point to a problem with your Static Eliminator, the step-by-step guide also walks you through the procedure for a thorough cleaning of your device. Additionally, we’ve made some handy videos that we hope will help too:

Ionizing Bar Cleaning & Maintenance

Ion Air Gun Cleaning & Maintenance

Even with a properly functioning Static Eliminator, there may be installation or operational issues that are limiting its effectiveness. If this is the case, give us a call…like I said before, we’ve got a genuine interest in problem-solving, and we’re eager to help.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
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