Going Outside The Box With Vortex Tubes

Among EXAIR’s comprehensive line of Intelligent Compressed Air Products, the Vortex Tube stands out as a unique, and fascinating, solution for a variety of applications requiring a flow of cold air:

  • Cabinet Cooler Systems: clean, cold air to protect electrical and electronic components housed in an enclosure.  Installs in minutes; no moving parts; reliable & maintenance free.
  • Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems:  Direct, focused flow of cold air to replace messy coolant in machining, cutting, drilling, grinding, etc., applications.  Integral magnet base for quick & easy installation; single or dual outlet hose kits; standard or High Power to meet any need.  Optimized flow for maximum cooling and freeze prevention.
  • Adjustable Spot Cooler: Similar to the Cold Guns in many ways, but with variable performance for specific applications.  Cold air to -30°F (-34°C) on demand.
  • Mini Cooler: Similar to the Cold Guns and Adjustable Spot Coolers – magnetic base mounting and single or dual outlet hose kits, but more compact.  Lower flows for smaller jobs.

Then there are the Vortex Tubes themselves…at the heart of all of these products, but perfectly capable all on their own.  In fact, in certain situations, “plain old” Vortex Tubes have been used to do the exact same jobs as all of the above products.  They can even be customized, in and of themselves, to meet specific installation, operation, and/or performance needs:

  • High Temperatures: It should come as no surprise that cold air is often needed because a heat-sensitive item is located in a high heat environment.
    • Vortex Tubes come standard with plastic Generators and Buna o-rings, which are good for ambient temperatures up to 125°F (52°C).
    • High Temperature Vortex Tubes are fitted with brass Generators and Viton o-rings for environments where the temperature can reach 200°F (93°C).
High Temperature Vortex Tubes are suitable for use in environments up to 200F (93C).
  • Preset temperature & flow: Many times, the ability to adjust the performance of a Vortex Tube is a big benefit, but occasionally it’s a liability.
    • I know none of your co-workers are like this (nor are mine) but I’ve heard of people who think they “know better” and are prone to tampering with something that is (or WAS) working just fine, thank you very much.
    • Perhaps you actually DO know better, through experimentation and experience, the optimal performance setting for your application.  Let’s say, for example, you install Vortex Tubes on a line of your products, and a technician has to “dial it in” to a specific Cold Fraction.
    • Any Vortex Tube can be fitted with a drilled orifice (or “Hot Plug”) to replace  the Hot Valve, which presets performance to a specific, non-adjustable value.  If you know the Cold Fraction you need, it’s as easy as that.  If not, it’s as easy as getting a stock Vortex Tube, setting the Cold Fraction where you want it, securing the Hot Valve in position (piece of tape works just fine,) and sending it in.
Preset Vortex Tubes feature a fixed plug, replacing the Hot Valve shown in this picture.

If you’ve got any other specific requirements – special materials, fittings, custom flow/temperature parameters, etc., give me a call; let’s talk.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Controlling Temperature and Flow in a Vortex Tube

VT_air2

A few weeks ago, we looked at the Vortex Tube and provided a general overview of the device (see that blog here.)  In a nutshell – a Vortex Tube uses an ordinary supply of compressed air as a power source, creating two streams of air, one hot and one cold – resulting in a low cost, reliable, maintenance free source of cold air for spot cooling solutions.

One of the features of the Vortex Tube is that the temperature of the cold air and the cold air flow rate is changeable. The cold air flow and temperature are easily controlled by adjusting the slotted valve in the hot air outlet.

Vortex Tube Hot Valve Adjustment
Hot Valve Adjustment for a Vortex Tube

Opening the valve (turning it counterclockwise) reduces the cold air flow rate and the lowers the cold air temperature.  Closing the valve (turning it clockwise) increases the cold air flow and raises the cold air temperature.

VT Adjustment Table

As with anything, there is a trade off – to get higher a cold air flow rate, a moderate cold air temperature is achieved, and to get a very cold air temperature, a moderate air flow rate is achieved.

An important term to know and understand is Cold Fraction, which is the percentage of the compressed air used by the Vortex Tube that is discharged through the Cold End.  In most applications, a Cold Fraction of 80% produces a combination of cold flow rate and and cold air temperature that results in the maximum refrigeration or cooling output form a Vortex Tube.

For most industrial applications – such as process cooling, part cooling, and chamber cooling, maximum refrigeration is best and the 32XX series of Vortex Tubes are preferred.  For those applications where ‘cryogenic’ cooling is needed, such as cooling lab samples, or circuit testing, the 34XX series of Vortex Tube is best.

To set a Vortex Tube to a specific temperature, simply insert a thermometer into the cold air exhaust and adjust the hot valve.  Maximum refrigeration, at 80% Cold Fraction, is achieved when the cold air temperature drop is 50°F (28°C) from the incoming compressed air temperature. See the video posted here for measuring and lowering and the cold air temperature.

For those cases when you may be unsure of the required cold air flow rate and cold air temperature to provide the needed cooling in an application, we would recommend an EXAIR Cooling Kit.  The Cooling Kit contains a Vortex Tube, Cold Air Muffler, Air Line Filter, and a set of Generators that will allow for experimentation of the full range of air flows and temperatures possible.

gh_VTcoolingkit_750x696p
EXAIR Vortex Tube Cooling Kit

To discuss your application and how a Vortex Tube or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can improve your process, feel free to contact EXAIR, myself, or one of our other Application Engineers. We can help you determine the best solution!

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Vortex Tube Overview

VT_air2

A Vortex Tube uses an ordinary supply of compressed air as a power source, creating two streams of air, one hot and one cold – resulting in a low cost, reliable, maintenance free source of cold air for spot cooling solutions.

The EXAIR Vortex tubes are made of stainless steel, which provides resistance to wear, corrosion and oxidation – ensuring years of reliable, maintenance free operation

How_A_Vortex_Tube_Works

The cold air flow and temperature are easily controlled by adjusting the slotted valve in the hot air outlet.  Opening the valve reduces the cold air flow and the cold air temperature.  Closing the valve increases the cold air flow and and the cold air temperature.

EXAIR Vortex Tubes come in three sizes. Within each size, a number of flow rates, which are dictated by a small internal generator, are available. Selection of the appropriate Vortex Tube can be achieved either by knowing the BTU/hr (Kcal/hr) requirements or the desired flow and temperature requirements. Selection is then based on the specification table (BTU/hr or Kcal/hr is known) or the performance tables (flow and temperature is known.)

Capture
Vortex Tube Specification Tables

 

Cold Fraction
Vortex Tube Performance Tables

The performance of a Vortex Tube is reduced with back pressure on the cold air exhaust. Low back pressures up to 2 PSIG ( 0.1 Bar) will not change performance and a 5 PSIG (0.3 Bar) will change the temperature drop by approximately 5°F (2.8°C)

The use of clean air is essential, and filtration of 25 microns or less is recommended.  EXAIR offers filters with 5 micron elements and properly sized for flow.

A Vortex Tube provides a temperature drop to the incoming supply air.  High inlet temperatures will result in a corresponding rise in the cold air temperature.

EXAIR offers mufflers for both the hot and cold air discharge.  If the cold air is ducted, muffling may not be required.

For best performance, operation at 80 to 110 PSIG (5.5 to 7.6 Bar) of supply pressure is recommended. The Vortex Tubes have a maximum pressure rating of 250 PSIG (17.2 Bar) and a minimum requirement of 20 PSIG (1.4 Bar)

To discuss your application and how a Vortex Tube or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can improve your process, feel free to contact EXAIR, myself, or one of our other Application Engineers. We can help you determine the best solution!

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Cool Small Parts and Tools, with Clean, Cold Air

Do you need a proven way to reduce downtime and increase productivity on a variety of operations involving small parts where heat is a problem?  EXAIR‘s Mini Cooler produces a stream of 20°F (-7°C) cold air to prevent heat build up and blow away chips and debris.

Especially effective on high speed operations, the Mini Cooler helps to prevent burning, melting, and heat related breakage, and while doing so, at a quiet 76 dBA sound level. Better yet, all done with no moving parts to wear out.

minicooler_appli400
Mini Cooler Cooling a Small Mill Operation

Some popular applications for the Mini Cooler are – small tool cooling, needle cooling, blade cooling, and lens grinding.

There are several advantages to take note of – low cost, increased production rates, better tolerances, and quiet and compact.

minicoolerWFAM_500

The Mini Cooler Systems are available with One or Two Cold Outlets, and also include a 1″ wide Flare Nozzle Tip, and a Manual Drain Air Filter to clean the air, ensuring long, trouble free operation.

Using just 8 SCFM of 100 PSIG compressed air, the Mini Cooler will not tax your compressed air system.  Its small size allows it to fit in areas where larger systems could not fit.  The powerful magnetic base sticks to any ferrous surface and and provides up to 100 pounds of pull force.

If you have any questions about the Mini Cooler, the Adjustable Spot Cooler, Cold Gun or any EXAIR 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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EXAIR’s Cabinet Coolers Meet Specific Environmental Needs

I wrote recently about a “textbook” application for EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems…overheating control cabinets on a factory floor, solved quickly & easily with stock product, off the shelf, installed in minutes.

“Well, la-di-da, Russ,” some may say, “You sure knocked that whiffleball out of the park, didn’t you? What about those of us with more complex requirements than a plain Jane electric box on a typical production floor?”

To them, I would say:

1. Yes we did, and thank you for noticing!
And
2. Read on.

EXAIR manufactures, and stocks, a number of special Cabinet Cooler Systems to meet most any need:

Food and pharmaceutical processing areas often call for specific materials of construction. Something that doesn’t corrode, something that isn’t susceptible to surface wear or pitting in a washdown environment…something like Type 316 Stainless Steel. For these cases, we also offer our complete line of NEMA 4X Cabinet Cooler Systems in optional 316SS construction, from 275 Btu/hr (69 Kcal/hr) to 5,600 Btu/hr (1,411 Kcal/hr.) And they’re all in stock.

Of course, other harsh environments, like this outdoor installation at a wastewater treatment plant, also require the highly corrosion resistant properties of 316SS.

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems work best on a sealed enclosure, but sometimes it’s not feasible to completely seal an enclosure – there may be a cable bundle coming through a common penetration, or perhaps the door isn’t fitted with a gasket.  In cases where such equipment still needs to be protected from dust, fumes, or other environmental contaminants, you could always use a Continuous Operation Cabinet Cooler System.  But, if you want to control operating costs with Thermostat Control, our Non-Hazardous Purge option provides a continuous positive flow, even when the internal temperature is below the Thermostat setpoint, to prevent these contaminants from entering.  These are all in stock as well.

Non-Hazardous Purge option is available for any EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System.

When we calculate heat load, we use your Sizing Guide data to determine both internal heat load (generated by the components in the enclosure) and external heat load (generated by the ambient temperature in the area.)  Regardless of the internal heat load, enclosures in extremely hot locations need protection too.  When the ambient temperature will exceed 125°F, a High Temperature Cabinet Cooler System is specified…performance is identical, but they’re outfitted to withstand the higher temperatures for durability and long lasting operation.  This option is offered for all of our Cabinet Cooler Systems 1,000 Btu/hr and higher, and they are also all in stock.

This Dual Cabinet Cooler System protects a critical equipment panel on a hot roll steel line.

No matter the challenges of your facility’s environment, we can help.  Again…all of the above options are in stock, ready for immediate shipment.  What could be better?

Well, actually, we ARE giving away free stuff with Cabinet Cooler System orders through the end of July 2018:

This applies to our standard Cabinet Cooler Systems, as well as those with options for various environmental considerations detailed above.

So…don’t overheat your electronics from the inside, or out, wherever they’re located.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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EXAIR’s Cabinet Coolers Provide Heat Protection 24/7

I had the pleasure of speaking with the Maintenance Manager at a manufacturing plant for a global automotive supplier earlier this week. They have a whole factory floor full of machinery that operates from PLC controls. The space is not climate controlled, and the temperature broke 100°F the day before. This triggered some high temperature warnings on several control panels, but that was the worst thing that happened…luckily.

It should go without saying that the automotive industry is a big deal in the United States…maybe even a bigger deal here in the Middle Atlantic region, and a HUGE deal for those of us within a few hour’s drive of Detroit, Michigan…the home of the Big Three.  Disruptions in their supply chains can affect not only the final production of automobiles, but also other suppliers, vendors, and service providers in separate “links” of that chain.  So, if my caller has a breakdown and can’t ship parts, many other suppliers’ lines may be slowed or stopped, because if Detroit can’t make cars without one supplier’s parts right now, they won’t need the others’ parts right now either.  That means reliability is paramount.

Even in extremely aggressive environments, an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System is a durable, reliable heat protection solution for your sensitive electronics and controls.

This is a “textbook” situation for EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems.  They’re installed in minutes, have no moving parts, and require only a supply of compressed air for operation.  If that air is clean & dry, they’ll operate darn near indefinitely, maintenance free.  Thermostat Control turns them off & on as needed.  I’ve talked to more than a few users who were (pleasantly) surprised when a Cabinet Cooler System activated on the first hot day in the spring, after not seeing it come on at all, after that last hot day near the end of the previous summer.

Back to the situation at hand – the Maintenance Manager had gathered Sizing Guide data for a couple of enclosures.  You can submit it through our website, or email it in, but it only takes a minute; we do it over the phone all the time.  So I did, and quoted the appropriate Cabinet Cooler Systems, which were ordered soon after.  They were installed the next day, with a promise of more to come.

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems are widely recognized as an ideal solution for electrical & electronic panel heat protection.

As if quick, easy, and reliable heat protection for sensitive and critical electronics isn’t enough, we’re sweetening the pot this summer:  order any EXAIR CAbinet Cooler System by July 31, 2018, and we will include a FREE AC Sensor, suitable for testing breakers, receptacles, switches, fuses, junction boxes, power cords – if it’s got (or should) have AC voltage going through it, the AC Sensor will light up and sound off (or not) to let you know for sure.

Click here for full details on this promotion!

If you have electrical or electronic equipment enclosures that need heat protection, EXAIR has the solution.  Call me.

EXAIR’s Cabinet Cooler System is Durable and Reliable

Any realtor will tell you that the three most important factors in selecting a property are location, location, and location. This simply means that houses with similar features – number of bedrooms, yard size, structure, garage (or not,) basement or not,) etc. – can be found in a lot of very different neighborhoods. Whether you want to live somewhere that’s convenient to the highway, close to (or not so close to) work, near your favorite activities, etc., odds are you can find a house that meets your material needs & wants within those geographical confines. Hence, location is your #1 consideration. And your #2 and your #3 as well…my lovely bride is a real estate professional, so I have this on good authority. And, so you know, #4 is price, and #5 is condition.

Electrical and electronics controls professionals will tell you that three of the most important things to protect their equipment from are heat, moisture, and dust. If you’re looking for a durable, reliable, and low cost method for that, we’ve got the solution: the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System. Selection of the right system comes down to determining your heat load, and…the reason for today’s blog…the LOCATION in which it will be installed.

Let’s say it’s a control panel for one of the machines on a factory production line…indoors & dry.  Our NEMA 12 Cabinet Cooler Systems provide protection against dust and oil from entering the enclosure.

NEMA 12 Cabinet Cooler Systems are oil tight, dust tight, and rated for indoor duty. They can also be installed to the wall of an enclosure (instead of the top) with a Side Mount Kit.

If the enclosure is outdoors, or indoors but subject to water spray (like in a wash-down area,) our NEMA 4 Cabinet Cooler Systems are oil tight, dust tight, AND splash resistant.  They ensure the inside of the enclosure stays dry through the use of a low pressure relief valve that seals when the cooler is not operating, maintaining NEMA 4 integrity at all times.

EXAIR NEMA Cabinet Cooler Systems provide additional protection to keep the enclosure dry inside.

Our NEMA 4X Cabinet Cooler Systems are made of stainless steel, and are commonly specified for food service area installations, and in corrosive environments.  They’re also oil tight, dust tight, and splash resistant.  These are also available in Type 316 Stainless Steel construction, for especially harsh conditions, or when this is otherwise specified due to the nature of the installation, such as critical food grade or pharmaceutical areas.

EXAIR NEMA 4X Cabinet Cooler Systems are made of corrosion resistant stainless steel for corrosive environments, and are also available with Side Mount Kits.

Regardless of the NEMA rating called for by the location, all EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems are available with a Non-Hazardous Purge option, which provides a slight positive pressure through a low (1 SCFM) air flow when internal temperature is below the thermostat setpoint and the solenoid valve is closed.  This provides constant and reliable protection, even if the enclosure is not perfectly sealed, even in especially dirty or dusty environments.

All EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems are available with Non Hazardous Purge for constant, reliable protection from environmental contaminants.

High Temperature Cabinet Cooler Systems are also available when ambient temperatures can exceed 125F.  These are popular in foundries, glass production facilities, and even non-air conditioned spaces in particularly warm climates.

High Temperature Cabinet Cooler Systems provide reliable heat protection in areas where ambient temperatures reach 125-200F (52-93C)

If you’ve got sensitive, mission-critical electrical or electronic enclosures that need reliable heat protection, EXAIR has the solution you’re looking for.  If you know the required cooling capacity for your enclosure, you can select the right system directly from our website.  If you’d like help in calculating your heat load, you can use our Cabinet Cooler System Sizing Guide…just fill in the blanks and click “submit” – your request will be forwarded to an Application Engineer for immediate attention.  Or, if you’d rather, just give me a call.  We calculate heat loads over the phone all the time; it only takes a minute.