Service your compressor regularly to protect against a variety of harmful vapors and debris that may contaminate your machine and wreak havoc on its internal systems. 

cleaning_bucketLiquid, vapor, and particulate contaminants that find their way into your compressed air system can threaten your air purity and the operation of your machine. To ensure that you always produce a pure product and get the longest life and best service out of your compressor, it’s important to know where contaminants can originate, how they may affect your machine’s functionality, and what steps you can take to effectively flush them out.

Dust, Debris, and Vapors, Oh My!

Contaminants can originate from a number of sources. External sources include water, hydrocarbon, and chemical vapors, aerosols, dust, dirt, and environmental debris.

From within the system, liquid contaminants like oil, water, acid, and particulate matter from dust, weld slag, or pipe scale, can result not only in product contamination, but erosion and clogging of the air usage devices or processes downstream.

Operational Effects of Contamination

Solid and particulate contaminants can create a variety of problems for your compressed air system, including erosion, clogging of important valves, cylinders, orifices and drains, sludge formation, and product contamination.

Water vapor can condense and freeze, bringing its own unique set of obstacles.. Oil vapor and condensate can prevent your air from meeting purity standards.

Finally, oils, hydrocarbons, and other liquid contaminants can cause sticking of moving parts due to the formation of varnish and sludge, and even corrosion from acid formation adding to plant maintenance woes due to poor air quality.

Mattei offers a free oil analysis service, which includes testing for metal particulates, verifies total acid number (TAN), and determines the precise ratio of water present in the oil using the proven Karl Fischer titration process.

Spring Cleaning for Your Compressor

Compressor operators can and should take steps to eliminate contaminants whenever possible. Often, a simple adjustment can suffice. However, third-party servicing and additional filtration & drainage solutions may be the best option if you’re looking to minimize time and efficiency lost.

Liquid contaminants like oily condensate can often be removed with proper filtration and draining methods, while solid contaminants require appropriate in-line filtration. Coalescing filters, which can be installed in pairs, are designed to remove aerosols or droplets of water and oil using mechanical filtration technology, and can remove solid contaminants down to .01 microns in size.

Microbiological and dust removal filters provide additional options for removing live organisms and particulate matter. Most importantly, always ensure drains and filters are not backed up and are properly secured.

Vapor contaminants require different treatments depending on their content. Water vapor can be condensed into a liquid and drained off using a refrigerated dryer. Alternatively, desiccant and membrane dryer technologies can effectively remove water vapors without the need for condensation.

Oil vapors, on the other hand, require activated carbon filtration systems. Keep in mind that OEM filters and dryers are generally the most reliable, as they are optimized to fit your compressor’s needs.

Staying Contaminant-Free for the Long Haul

Ultimately, the only surefire way to ensure that your compressor is functioning at maximum efficiency is to conduct regular maintenance and auditing of your system. Frequent servicing supports optimal performance and allows you to catch potential problems before they become real ones.

For optimal performance, the Mattei rotary vane air compressor provides the most cost-effective, durable, and energy efficient filtration on the market, which can be optimized for applications across industries. Mattei’s air and spin-on oil filters make regular maintenance a breeze, ensuring contamination-free reliability and performance. For more information on keeping your compressed air system free and clear of contaminants, contact your Mattei distributor.

Topics: Rotary Vane Compressor, Compressor 101

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