How to Manage Condensate in Your Compressed Air System

If you operate an air compressor, you’re drawing water vapor into your compressed air system.  Factors like climate control (or lack thereof,) and humidity will dictate how much.  If (or more to the point, when) it condenses, it becomes an issue that must be addressed.  There are several types of dryer systems to choose from, usually when you buy your compressor…we’ve covered those in a number of blogs.  Some of these can leave a little more water vapor than others, but remain popular and effective, when considering the cost, and cost of operation, of the different types.

So, how do you handle the condensate that the dryer doesn’t remove?

  • Receivers, or storage tanks (like EXAIR Model 9500-60, shown to the right,) are commonly used for several reasons:
    • By providing an intermediate storage of compressed air close to the point of use, fluctuations across the system won’t adversely affect an application that needs a constant flow and pressure.
    • This also can keep the air compressor from cycling rapidly, which leads to wear & tear, and additional maintenance headaches.
    • When fitted with a condensate drain (more on those in a minute,) they can serve as a wet receiver.  Condensate collects in the bottom and is manually, or automatically emptied.
  • Condensate drains, while popularly installed on receivers, are oftentimes found throughout larger systems where the vapor is prone to condense (intercoolers, aftercoolers, filters and dryers) and where the condensation can be particularly problematic (drip legs or adjacent to points of use.) There are a couple of options to choose from, each with their own pros & cons:
    • Manual drains are self explanatory: they’re ball valves; cycled periodically by operators.  Pros: cheap & simple.  Cons: easy to blow down too often or for too long, which wastes compressed air.  It’s also just as easy to blow down not often enough, or not long enough, which doesn’t solve the condensate problem.
    • Timer drains are self explanatory too: they cycle when the timer tells them to. Pros: still fairly cheap, and no attention is required.  Cons: they’re going to open periodically (per the timer setting) whether there’s condensate or not.
    • Demand, or “zero loss” drains collect condensate until their reservoir is full, then they discharge the water.  Pros: “zero loss” means just that…they only actuate when condensate is present, and they stop before any compressed air gets out.  Cons: higher purchase price, more moving parts equals potential maintenance concerns.
  • The “last line of defense” (literally) is point-of-use condensate removal.  This is done with products like EXAIR Automatic Drain Filter Separators.  They’re installed close to compressed air operated devices & products, oftentimes just upstream of the pressure regulator and/or flow controls…the particulate filter protects against debris in these devices, and the centrifugal element “spins” any last remaining moisture from the compressed air flow before it gets used.
Good engineering practice calls for point of use filtration and moisture removal, such as that provided by EXAIR Filter Separators.

Efficient and safe use of your compressed air includes maintaining the quality of your compressed air.  If you’d like to find out more about how EXAIR Corporation can help you get the most out of your compressed air system, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Six Steps to Optimization, Step 4 – Turn Off Your Compressed Air When Not in Use

Step 4 of the Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System is ‘Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use.’  Click on the link above for a good summary of the all the steps.

6 Steps from Catalog

Two basic methods to set up a compressed air operation for turning off is the ball valve and the solenoid valve. Of the two, the simplest is the ball valve. It is a quarter turn, manually operated valve that stops the flow of the compressed air when the handle is rotated 90°. It is best for operations where the compressed air is needed for a long duration, and shut off is infrequent, such as at the end of the shift.

manual_valves (2)
Manual Ball Valves, from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT

The solenoid valve offers more flexibility. A solenoid valve is an electro-mechanical valve that uses electric current to produce a magnetic field which moves a mechanism to control the flow of air. A solenoid can be wired to simple push button station, for turning the air flow on and off – similar to the manual valve in that relies on a person to remember to turn the air off when not needed.

wa_solvalv
A Wide Array of Solenoid Valve Offerings for Various Flows and Voltage Requirements

Another way to use a solenoid valve is to wire it in conjunction with a PLC or machine control system. Through simple programming, the solenoid can be set to turn on/off whenever certain parameters are met. An example would be to energize the solenoid to supply an air knife when a conveyor is running to blow off parts when they pass under. When the conveyor is stopped, the solenoid would close and the air would stop blowing.

The EXAIR EFC (Electronic Flow Control) is a stand alone solenoid control system. The EFC combines a photoelectric sensor with a timer control that turns the air on and off based on the presence (or lack of presence) of an object in front of the sensor. There are 8 programmable on/off modes for different process requirements. The use of the EFC provides the highest level of compressed air usage control. The air is turned on only when an object is present and turned off when the object has passed by.

efcapp
EFC Used To Control Bin Blow Off Operation

By turning off the air when not needed, whether by a manual ball valve, a solenoid valve integrated into the PLC machine control or the EXAIR EFC, compressed air usage will be minimized and operation costs reduced.

If you have questions about the EFC, solenoid valves, ball valves 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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EXAIR Accessories – We’ve Got you Covered

When you work with us here at EXAIR, we strive to have all the ancillary items that you might need to make your installation a success, without having to find components at the last minute or perhaps using the wrong sized components. Each specific product line such as Super Air Knives or Line Vac air operated conveyors have specific accessories such as mounting brackets or plumbing kits which EXAIR has made to simplify the installation of those particular products. We also carry generalized accessories which work across all of the product lines so you do not have to use multiple vendors or purchase orders.

Silencing Mufflers – Per OSHA Standard 1910.95(a), a worker must not be exposed to sounds levels above 90 dBA for any eight hour shift of a 40 hour work week.  EXAIR offers several types of mufflers including – Reclassifying, Sintered Bronze, Straight-Through and Heavy Duty.  For reducing the noise associated with an EXAIR E-Vac Generator, Vortex Tube, Cabinet Cooler System, or the exhaust air from cylinders, valves and other air powered equipment, we’ve got a muffler that will help to keep the noise level at an acceptable level.

Mufflers

Solenoid and Manual Valves – The easiest way to reduce compressed air usage and save on operating expense is to turn off the compressed air to a device when it isn’t needed. EXAIR carries a wide assortment of solenoid valves, with offerings in the NEMA 4/4X classification, and supply voltages of 24VDC, 120VAC, and 240VAC.  We also have manual ball valves from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT and a foot operated valve, with 1/4 NPT connections.

Valves

Swivel Fittings, Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases – To provide a great degree of flexibility for positioning an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle, Air Jets or Air Amplifiers, EXAIR offers several items.  The Swivel Fittings have 25 degree of movement from the center axis, providing a total of 50 degree of adjustability.  The position is locked in place and holds until adjustment is needed. For applications where frequent re-positioning of the air device is required, the Stay Set Hoses are ideal.  Simply mount the hose close to the application, bend it to the shape preferred, and because the hose has “memory”, it will not creep or bend.  Lastly, the Magnetic Bases are another option for flexible, movable installations.  The base has a on/off valve, and a powerful magnet to hold in any vertical or horizontal mounting arrangement.

Swivels, StaySets,MagBases2

 

Hoses – EXAIR can provide hoses for your application.  For the Line Vac air operated conveyor applications, we offer conveyance hose – a durable, clear reinforced PVC hose, in diameters of 3/8″ to 3″ ID, and lengths up to 50′. On the compressed air side, we can provide 12′ Coiled Hoses with 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8 NPT connections, and also 3/8″ and 1/2″ ID hose in lengths to 50′.

Hoses

Filter Separators, Oil Removal Filters and Pressure Regulators – Perhaps the most important accessories for use on a compressed air device are filters and regulators. Filtering the compressed air of dirt, debris, moisture and oil will help to prevent build up inside the EXAIR products, leading to longer service life, and less time spent cleaning, while providing optimum performance. Regulating the air pressure allows for tuning of the performance, using the proper amount of compressed air to obtain satisfactory results.

Filter and Regualtors

If you have questions regarding accessories for use with any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Many Ways to $ave on Compressed Air Costs

Using compressed air in the plant is common for many types of processes.  Typical uses are drying, cooling, cleaning and conveying. Compressed air does have a cost to consider, and there are many ways to keep the usage and the costs as low as possible.  The first step is to use an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product, which has been engineered to provide the most performance while using the least amount of compressed air. The next step is to control the use of the air, to only have it on when needed.

EXAIR offers the EFC – Electronic Flow Control.  It offers the most comprehensive method to maximize the efficiency of compressed air usage.  It combines a photoelectric sensor with a timing control that operates a solenoid valve to turn on and off the air as required. With 8 different program types, an on/off mode that works with any process can be programmed ensuring that the minimum amount of compressed air is used.  You can use the online EFC Savings Calculator to see how quickly the savings add up!

EFCp4
EFC – Electronic Flow Control

Another method would be to use a solenoid valve with some other method of control. Depending on the process, the solenoid could be energized via a machine control output, or as simple as an electrical push button station. EXAIR offers solenoid valves in a variety of flow rates (from 40 to 350 SCFM) and voltages (24 VDC, 120 VAC and 240 VAC) to match the air flow requirements of the products we provide, while integrating into the facility and available supply voltages.

For control of the Cabinet Cooler Systems, the ETC – Electronic Temperature Control, uses a thermocouple to measure cabinet temperature and cycle the system on and off to maintain a precise cabinet temperature, and provides a digital readout of the internal temperatures and on the fly adjustment.  Also available is the Thermostat Control models, which utilize an adjustable bimetallic thermostat to control the solenoid valve, also cycling the unit on and off as needed to maintain a set cabinet temperature.

ETC CC
ETC – Electronic Temperature Control

There are several manual methods that can be used to control the compressed air.  A simple valve can be used to turn the air off when not needed, whether at the end of the work day, at break time, or whenever the air isn’t required.  We offer several options, from a foot controlled valve, to a magnetic base with on/off valve, to a simple quarter turn ball valve.

footpedalvalve (2)dualstand (2) manual_valves (2)

 

To discuss your processes and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can control the air supply and save you money, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Conveying Valve Keepers with a Line Vac Air Operated Conveyor

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Valve keepers

In some of my previous blogs I’ve written about rebuilding engines at home, usually finding a decent car that suffered top-end engine damage.  Sometimes the root cause is a lack of oil pressure, other times it is a failed component in the valve train, or something as simple as a broken timing belt.  In any case, these rebuilds tend to involve removing the cylinder heads from the engine, disassembling them and replacing the damaged components.

Capture
These valve keepers need to be pneumatically conveyed

A commonly damaged component with timing belt or valve train failure is the valve.  And, removing the valve means removing the valve keepers, which are the items shown above.

I received an email from our distributor in Italy, searching for a solution to convey these valve keepers at a rate of approximately 5000 per hour over a distance of 3 meters and a height of 4 meters.  The valve keepers are quite light, weighing just 0.29 grams each – a perfect fit for use with the Line Vac.

When considering a conveyance application we take into account several variables such as:

Bulk density of the material

Shape/size of the material

Conveying distance

Conveying height

Required conveyance rate

Available compressed air supply

Given the need to convey 5000 valve keepers per hour at a weight of 0.29 grams/valve keeper, we only needed to move ~1.5kg per hour for this application.  When considering the height and distance involved, and the size of the valve keepers, we can comfortable convey these units with a ¾” Line Vac or a 1” Line Vac.  Using 10.7 and 14.7 SCFM, respectively, these options provide a suitable solution with a low compressed air demand.

If you have an application in need of a compressed air solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

1st photo credit to Benjamin Hirsch (Creative Commons License)

Compressed Air Can Be Costly – EXAIR Can Help You Save It

Growing up across the street from an old fashioned service station does have its perks.   This was one of the old 76  gas stations that still had a garage where a mechanic would fix your car, as well as you could get gas if you needed to.   They even had the rubber hose that would ring a bell when you drive over it.  One of the other things this station had was a compressed air hose that ran to the outside of the building and offered free compressed air to any passer by so they could fill up their tires as needed.   Normally it just had a very simple tire chuck on the end that would connect to the Schrader valve on your car tire.  This station is still there, they no longer sell gas, and they have also removed the bell ringing air hose that runs outside.  If you need a tire filled now, you have to either catch them during normal business hours or move on to the next gas station and hope they have some form of compressed air available.

The full service gas stations for the most part have been replaced by gas stations with convenience stores attached.   They carry more junk food than they do products for your car and they have no need to own or operate an air compressor.   Their customers still have that need though so there are now small stand alone compressed air stations.   These range from small shoebox sized units that you pay a few quarters for, up to the unit I noticed today while filling up my car.

Standalone air compressed for tire inflation.
Standalone air compressed for tire inflation.

This unit takes credit cards, regulates the compressed air to the user selected pressure, and all you have to do is hook it to your cars valve stem.  This is far from free, and the reason is, compressed air is a costly utility.  If you don’t believe us when we repeatedly talk about how much money you can save on compressed air by installing our engineered compressed air nozzles, Super Air Amplifiers or Super Air Knives (among others), then accept a challenge from me.  Contact an EXAIR Application Engineer to discuss any point of use compressed air applications that you have in your facility.   While you are waiting to get the in stock, shipped same day, Intelligent Compressed Air Products® received, monitor your compressed air use and the energy use on your compressor.  Install the EXAIR products once you receive them and continue to monitor your air and energy consumption.   If you don’t see a decrease within these two areas, call me and return the items.   We honor a 30 day guarantee on stock products just so you can make sure you are saving air, and getting the best performance out of your compressed air system.

Brian Farno
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

HE LIVES!!!! …And His Name Is Freshie

Freshie 2

At long last I finally dove back into my A4.  Armed with my premonition from a dream and a deep desire to hear the engine purr, I set out to find the source of the awful noise and dead misfire.

With the noise coming out of the right bank, I started by taking off the valve cover on that side.  Per my dream, I checked the clearance between the intake cam and the lifters, but it was to no avail as everything was within tolerance.  I did notice (through luck) that the engine had stopped PERFECTLY on Top Dead Center for cylinder 1.  My exhaust cam on bank one, which is driven by the timing belt, was dead on the money.  Perfect.  My intake cam, however, looked a little off.

Chain Links

So, as the timing procedure outlines, I checked the number of chain links between the intake and exhaust cams (see photo above) and realized I was at 14 links rather than 16.  Boom!  That solved the misfire concern.  But what about the noise???

I thought to myself that regardless of what the noise may be, I had found something that had to be corrected.  The course forward would be to re-time the cams on bank two, check compression, and reevaluate.  And that’s exactly what I set out to do.

I removed the bearing caps for the intake cam and compressed the cam chain tensioner hoping to have enough wiggle room to make the needed adjustment.  I didn’t.  Then I loosened the exhaust cam, but still no dice.  Ultimately the timing belt, cam gear, and timing cover (behind the cam gear) came off to make the correction.

With the cams out I decided to check the lifters again for good measure.  What I found was an intake lifter on cylinder two that did NOT want to move.  This was the area with the noise!!  With a little persuasion the lifter came free and I found debris (almost like a dried up engine sludge) between the lifter and the bore in which it travels.  It wasn’t much debris, but it was enough to prevent the lifter from freely traveling.  Boom!  Here was my noise!!!!!!  I cleaned all the contact surfaces, lubricated them with new oil, and confirmed there were no more restrictions.

At midnight I was finally ready to hit the key, and to my delight the engine was quiet as a mouse once the lifters pumped up.  Needless to say I’m very happy to have the A4 road ready.  And, with the all-wheel drive drivetrain, I can weather through the snow to EXAIR for your application needs all winter long.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Also, about the name – I acquired a VW Jetta much in the same way I came to own this A4.  When I towed the Jetta home my son saw the crunch in one of the fenders and named the car “Crunchy”.  This one, being very clean and sporty, has been named “Freshie”.  Because he’s fresh.