Compressed air contains moisture that can damage essential equipment. An air dryer can prevent these problems, ensuring that you enjoy the benefits of compressed air without water damage.
Since all air contains some water vapor, there’s always some moisture present in raw air as it leaves an air compressor. Because moisture can easily damage equipment and processes an ideal compressed air system should contain as little moisture as possible.
Compressed air dryers were developed to solve this very problem. Because so many industries rely on compressed air, much of their essential equipment will suffer from prolonged exposure to moisture through contaminating the air piping, sticking air cylinders, stuck air valves, plugged orifices, corroded transmitters, contaminated processes, and more.
With the help of a compressed air dryer and proper inline filtration however, a company can enjoy the advantages of clean, dry compressed air while reducing overall plant maintenance, equipment downtime and spoiled products and processes. Clean, dry air is a worthy investment for every plant or factory.
Water, Water Everywhere
As in other environments, the water vapor contained in compressed air will begin to condense after falling below a certain temperature, known as the dew point. This temperature depends on surrounding conditions such as the ambient temperature and barometric pressure, but in a relatively controlled environment such as a factory, it should remain more or less constant to ensure the water stays in a vapor state and does not condense out as damaging liquid water.
Without accounting for the dew point, an air compressor can wreak havoc on industrial equipment, introducing high volumes of moisture into environments that must be kept dry. The excessive moisture can create unnecessary drag in pneumatic cylinders, encourage rusting in critical moving parts, alter the color and consistency of processes, ruin paint jobs, and prevent sensors and gauges from functioning properly.
As a result, any initial benefits derived from not investing in the proper air treatment equipment for the air compressor is offset by the excessive maintenance, repairs and damage that wet, dirty compressed air can wreak on a facility.
As Dry as the Desert
Fortunately, you can largely avoid the unintended consequences of moisture by simply investing in the right air dryer. For example, desiccant dryers – which use materials like silica gel, activated alumina, or molecular sieves to remove moisture from the air – work well for painting in body shops to achieve an even coat. These dryers are also commonly found in industrial settings, where the highest amount of moisture needs to be removed from compressed air, as well as settings where air lines are prone to freezing.
Refrigerated dryers use refrigerant gas to chill the compressed air down to a temperature just above the temperature where water freezes. Then, wrings the water out and reheats the dry air - sending it into the piping network for use on air tools, cylinders, valves and a variety of processes.
Inline particulate filtration is employed to capture and remove dirt, rust, pipe scale and, liquid oil or water. Inline coalescing filtration is designed to capture oil aerosols to prevent oil from migrating downstream. Inline carbon filtration is designed to remove undesired odors and taste from a compressed air stream.
Much like air compressors, the ideal compressed air dryer depends on where and how a company uses compressed air. Air lines that run outside the building in Chicago, for example, may need a different dryer from an indoors climate controlled bottling plant in Atlanta, since each city’s distinct climates and the level of dryness of each operation will determine the dew point and size of each facility’s ideal dryer.
Compressed air is invaluable to many businesses, but without the proper precautions, you can get more trouble than you bargained for. If you’re considering investing in an air compressor or dryer, contact Mattei today to discuss the specific needs and environment at your company. We’ll work with you to find the right compressor and dryer for you and your business.