Compressed Air: Industry’s Breathe of Life

“Water and air, the two essential fluids…,” observed Jacques Cousteau. Industrial experts would agree with this opinion, as compressed air has become essential in modern manufacturing. Due to its important role in industry, it is vital to understand the facts of compressed air.

What is industrial compressed air?

Industrial compressed air is room air pressurized mechanically to serve industries in several ways: as a way to transfer energy, power automation on assembly lines, or operate power tools.

What type compressor is the best industrial air compressor?

The compressor is the heart of a compressed air dryers system. Different types exist such as the rotary screw, piston, rotary sliding vane, and centrifugal compressors. The rotary screw is favored by industry due to reliability and easy maintenance.

What considerations are important in choosing a compressed air system?

Several issues must be addressed to choose the right compressed air system. First, the quality of air needed should be known. Two factors combine to make up air quality—dryness and purity. Each industrial process has a minimum dryness level. When air is compressed, the water vapor condenses and can lead to problems in production. A manufacturer also must know the maximum contaminant level his facility can operate with efficiently.

Second, producers need to know the quantity of air needed. They should know the average air consumption of the facility.
Third, the pressure required needs to be evaluated. The customer should know the minimum discharge pressure needed as well as the various pressure ratings for each tool. He also should know the pressure drops throughout the system.

Finally, the manufacturer should consider if the facility has a constant load requirement or if the demand for air varies through the shift. This factor will influence the system’s design, and the control features needed.

What is a rotary screw vacuum and why is it important?

While compressed air is needed in some parts of a facility, there are other parts that may need a vacuum system. Many high-tech processes depend on vacuum systems, such as the micro-suction cups that position computer chips onto circuit boards. This reduced pressure is accomplished by a pump which removes excess air. Two types of pumps do this: liquid ring pumps and rotary screws pumps. While liquid ring pumps are quieter and smaller, rotary-screw pumps last longer, are reliable and energy efficient.

Why are compressed air dryers important and what are the different types of dryers?

Room air contains a certain amount of water vapor. When air is compressed it still contains this water vapor. Yet, as the compressed air moves through the facility’s pipe system, it cools and the moisture condenses. This causes higher maintenance costs, leads to corrosion and can affect the quality of sensitive products. For those reasons, a compressed air system must include a compressed air dryer. Two main types of dryers are refrigerated and regenerated.

Regenerative Dryers—these dryers pass the compressed air over material that absorbs water vapor. Once the material is saturated, the dryer shifts the air passage to a second bed of material and the dryer “regenerates” the first material bed by letting it dry.

Refrigerated Dryers—these dryers cool the compressed air to low temperatures which causes the water vapor to condense so it can be removed.