For compressed air systems, the classic saying of ‘what goes in, must come out’ applies more than ever. Investing in a compressor with the most rigorous specification may help, but that can’t guarantee you clean and quality compressed air.
Compressed air manufacturers test their equipment in controlled environments. Evidently, if you don’t also control external factors then you won’t be able to achieve this quality of air that you were expecting. The air which surrounds us isn’t just gas. With a mixture of water vapor, dust, pollen and bacteria, as well as industrial environments having higher levels of oil particles, means contamination is inevitable.
Any environment which isn’t 100% sterile can impact the quality of compressed air. A great solution for this is a filter. A filter works to separate the air particles from the contaminated particles. Different types of filters should be used throughout the entire system. This is because particles come in different sizes and not one single filter will ever be efficient enough to have an entire particle size range. The most difficult particles to filter are usually between 0.1μm and 0.2μm.
The most important purification equipment used in a compressed air system is probably a coalescing filter. These filters are what remove oil and water aerosols to very low levels – as small as 0.01 micron.
Following the process of filtration, compressed air gets very hot. This is where an after-cooler tends to be placed (directly after the compressor). The after-cooler removes most of the condensation that’s in the system – its important this is done as soon as possible.
A dryer reduces the moisture levels below the point where condensation can occur. A refrigerated dryer would typically be used as these remove water by cooling the air to near freezing temperatures. For even dryer air, a dryer called a desiccant can reduce the water content by absorbing the water with an adsorbent desiccant material.
If correctly sized for the air compressor system, a water separator can achieve up to 90% efficiency in separating condensation from the compressed air.
If your business uses an air compressor, its important you are aware of its quality. TCAS can test its current air and make recommendation accordingly. Alternatively, if you need a new machine, they can make sure it meets the necessary quality. See more of TCAS here