Max Refrigeration vs. Max Cold Temp Vortex Tubes

Here at EXAIR, our vortex tubes are offered in two separate series. The reason for this is to optimize the performance of the cold air temperature drop when operating with opposite ends of the cold fraction chart. The maximum refrigeration vortex tubes, 32xx series, perform optimally when they are set to a greater than 50% cold fraction.  The maximum cold temp vortex tubes, 34xx series, perform optimally when they are set to a less than or equal to 50% cold fraction. The cold fraction is discussed more in-depth within this link from Russ Bowman, Vortex Tube Cold Fractions Explained. This blog is going to explain a little further why one series of vortex tubes would be chosen for an application over another.

Cold Fraction
EXAIR Vortex Tube Performance Chart

Maximum refrigeration (32xx) vortex tubes are the most commonly discussed of the two types when discussing the optimal selection of the vortex tube for an application. The 32xx series vortex tubes achieve a maximum refrigeration output when operated at 100 psig inlet pressure with around  80% cold fraction. This would give a temperature drop from incoming compressed air temperature of 54°F (30°C). The volumetric flow rate of cold air will be 80% of the input flow which means only 20% is being exhausted as warm exhaust air. By keeping the flow rate higher the air is able to cool a higher heat load and is the reason the vortex tube is given a BTU/hr cooling capacity.

Vortex Tube Hot Valve Adjustment

Maximum cold temperature (34xx) tubes are less common as their applications are a little more niche and require a very pinpoint application. Rather than changing the temperature inside of a cooling tunnel or cooling an ultrasonic welding horn, the max cold temp vortex tube is going to have a minimum cold flow rate, less than 50% of input volumetric flow.  This minimal flow will be at temperature drops up to 129°F (71.1°C) from the incoming compressed air temperature.  This air is very cold and at a low flow. A 20% cold fraction exhausts 80% of the input volume as hot air. This type of volume would be ideal for sensor cooling, pinpoint cooling of a slow-moving operation, or thermal testing of small parts.

In the end, EXAIR vortex tubes perform their task of providing cold or hot air without using any refrigerants or moving parts. To learn more about how they work, check out this blog from Russ Bowman. If you want to see how to change the cold fraction, check out the video below. If you would like to discuss anything compressed air related, contact an application engineer, we are always here to help.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer


How to Calculate and Avoid Compressed Air Pressure Drop in Systems

EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983.  They are engineered with the highest of quality, efficiency, safety, and effectiveness in mind.  Since compressed air is the source for operation, the limitations can be defined by its supply.  With EXAIR products and pneumatic equipment, you will need a way to transfer the compressed air from the air compressor.  There are three main ways; pipes, hoses and tubes.  In this blog, I will compare the difference between compressed air hoses and compressed air tubes.

The basic difference between a compressed air hose and a compressed air tube is the way the diameter is defined.    A hose is measured by the inner diameter while a tube is measured by the outer diameter.  As an example, a 3/8” compressed air hose has an inner diameter of 3/8”.  While a 3/8” compressed air tube has an outer diameter that measures 3/8”.  Thus, for the same dimensional reference, the inner diameter for the tube will be smaller than the hose.

Why do I bring this up?  Pressure drop…  Pressure Drop is a waste of energy, and it reduces the ability of your compressed air system to do work.  To reduce waste, we need to reduce pressure drop.  If we look at the equation for pressure drop, DP, we can find the factors that play an important role.  Equation 1 shows a reference equation for pressure drop.

Equation 1:

DP = Sx * f * Q1.85 * L / (ID5 * P)

DP – Pressure Drop

Sx – Scalar value

f – friction factor

Q – Flow at standard conditions

L – Length of pipe

ID – Inside Diameter

P – Absolute Pressure


From Equation 1, differential pressure is controlled by the friction of the wall surface, the flow of compressed air, the length of the pipe, the diameter of the pipe, and the inlet pressure.  As you can see, the pressure drop, DP, is inversely affected by the inner diameter to the fifth power.  So, if the inner diameter of the pipe is twice as small, the pressure drop will increase by 25, or 32 times.

Let’s revisit the 3/8” hose and 3/8” tube.  The 3/8” hose has an inner diameter of 0.375”, and the 3/8” tube has an inner diameter of 0.25”.  In keeping the same variables except for the diameter, we can make a pressure drop comparison.  In Equation 2, I will use DPt and DPh for the pressure drop within the tube and hose respectively.

Equation 2:

DPt / DPh = (Dh)5 / (Dt)5

DPt – Pressure drop of tube

DPh – Pressure Drop of hose

Dh – Inner Diameter of hose

Dt – Inner Diameter of tube

Thus, DPt / DPh = (0.375”)5 / (0.25”)5 = 7.6

As you can see, by using a 3/8” tube in the process instead of the 3/8” hose, the pressure drop will be 7.6 times higher.

Diameters: 3/8″ Pipe vs. 3/8″ tube

At EXAIR, we want to make sure that our customers are able to get the most from our products.  To do this, we need to properly size the compressed air lines.  Within our installation sheets for our Super Air Knives, we recommend the infeed pipe sizes for each air knife at different lengths.

There is also an excerpt about replacing schedule 40 pipe with a compressed air hose.  We state; “If compressed air hose is used, always go one size larger than the recommended pipe size due to the smaller I.D. of hose”.  Here is the reason.  The 1/4” NPT Schedule 40 pipe has an inner diameter of 0.364” (9.2mm).  Since the 3/8” compressed air hose has an inner diameter of 0.375” (9.5mm), the diameter will not create any additional pressure drop.  Some industrial facilities like to use compressed air tubing instead of hoses.  This is fine as long as the inner diameters match appropriately with the recommended pipe in the installation sheets.  Then you can reduce any waste from pressure drop and get the most from the EXAIR products.

With the diameter being such a significant role in creating pressure drop, it is very important to understand the type of connections to your pneumatic devices; i.e. hoses, pipes, or tubes.  In most cases, this is the reason for pneumatic products to underperform, as well as wasting energy within your compressed air system.  If you would like to discuss further the ways to save energy and reduce pressure drop, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to assist you.


John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Back Blow Nozzles Clean Inside Metal Tubes

A manufacturing plant EXAIR worked with made cast aluminum tubes for the automotive industry.  After the parts were cast, a machining operation would clean the ends.  This left coolant and metal shavings inside the tube.  Before going to assembly, they had to clean the part.  They created a two-tube fixture (reference picture above) to fit the 25mm tubes in place.

Two home-made nozzles were used to fit inside the tubes to blow compressed air.  The nozzles were attached to the ends of two 17mm pipes which supplied the compressed air.  A cylinder was used to push the nozzles from the top of the aluminum tube to the bottom then back up again.  The liquid emulsion and debris would be pushed downward into a collection drum.  When they started operating their system, the inside of the tubes still had contamination inside.  They wanted to improve their process, so they looked for an expert in nozzle designs, EXAIR.

Back Blow Air Nozzle Family

EXAIR designed and manufactures a nozzle for just this type of operation, the Back Blow Air Nozzles.  We offer three different sizes to fit inside a wide variety of diameters from ¼” (6.3mm) to 16” (406mm).  They are designed to clean tubing, pipes, hoses, and channels.  The 360o rear airflow pattern can “wipe” the entire internal surface from coolant, chips, and debris.  For the application above, I recommended the model 1006SS Back Blow Air Nozzle.  This 316SS robust design would fit inside the tubes above.  The range for this Back Blow Air Nozzle is from 7/8” (22mm) to 4” (102mm) diameters.  The customer did have to modify the function of the equipment by placing the cylinder and the rods under the aluminum tubes.  The reverse airflow would still push the contamination into the collection drum that was placed underneath the tubes.

After installing the model 1006SS onto the rods, the cleaning operation became more efficient.  Not only was the entire internal diameter getting clean, they were able to turn off the compressed air until they reached the top of the tube.  With the model 1006SS, they only needed one pass to clean.  This cut the air consumption in half, saving them much money by using less compressed air.  In addition, they were able to speed up their operation by 20%.  Cleaner tubes, less time, cost savings; they were happy that they contacted EXAIR for our expertise.

Reverse Air Flow

If you need to clean the inside of tubes, hoses, pipes, etc., EXAIR has the perfect nozzle for you, the Back Blow Air Nozzles.  EXAIR can also offer these nozzles on our VariBlast, Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Air Guns for manual operations.  They come with Chip Shields and extensions that can reach as far as 72” (1829mm).  Or like the customer above, automate the system to get a great non-contact cleaning.

If you require any more details, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We will be happy to help.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Custom Solutions For Conveying Dry Material

The ideal solution for conveying large volumes of material over long distances.

EXAIR’s Line Vac compressed air operated conveyors have no moving parts or motors to wear out, providing a maintenance free way to move dry material from one location to another. We offer several different types and sizes of Line Vacs like our Standard Line Vacs, available from 3/8″ up to 5″  or our Threaded Line Vacs, with NPT threaded connections up to 3″. The Heavy Duty Line Vac are constructed of Hardened Alloy for superior abrasion resistance, available in sizes from 3/4” to 3”, smooth and threaded connections or the Light Duty Line Vac commonly used for smaller volume, shorter distance processes, with sizes from 3/4″ to 6”. We even offer Sanitary Flange Line Vacs from 1-1/2″ up to 3″ for processes requiring frequent cleaning. All of these products are in stock, ready to ship from our factory here in Cincinnati, Ohio.

For over 34 years, EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products and we understand that there may be “special” cases where a stock product isn’t going to fit a specific need or requirement. What sets us apart from our competition is that we are able, with a little help from the customer, to engineer and manufacture custom made products, like the Line Vac Conveyors, to fit the specific demand of a unique application.

A few examples are shown below:

Flanged design, easy to install

This special 3/4″ Stainless Steel flanged Line Vac is being used to remove acidic vapors after a silicon wafer etching process. The flanged design allowed the user to direct mount to the machine, eliminating the need for other expensive modifications.




Chemical resistant construction for washdown areas



A customer was needing a special Line Vac for a chloride wash area due to the aggressive chemicals. We were able to make a custom 1-1/2″ Line Vac in PVDF construction for corrosion resistance and QF flanges for easy maintenance and cleaning.




Custom funnel design for small, granulated material like sugar or salt


This special funnel shaped Line Vac is being used in a a small packet filling operation. The unique design assured for a clog free process by keeping the granulated material moving through the tube.






Miniature size for confined workspaces


A company was needing a miniature version of a Line Vac to remove microscopic debris in an integrated circuit chip making process. The barb fittings allowed for easy installation into the small work place.






These are just a few examples of how we are able to meet the demands of a wide variety of extraordinary processes. Whether you are looking to move “common” materials like plastic pellets or maybe something “off the wall”, chances are we have the resources to provide an engineered solution to fit your need. Our application engineers are standing by, so give us a call and let us put our expertise to work for you!

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer