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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Factors Governing the Selection of Compressed Air Filters

Compressed air filters are designed to remove air borne particles from a moving, pressurized air stream.

Compressed-air filter, 22 cfmCompressed air purification equipment is essential to all modern production facilities; at its best, the equipment should provide the optimum balance between air quality and low operating cost. There are numerous manufacturers offering products for the filtration and purification of air; compressed air filter costs cover a wide range - but initial purchase cost cannot always indicate the effectiveness of a piece of equipment. In assessing the suitability of the product, the purchaser will want to assess:
  • delivered air quality required by their application
  • environmental impact of use
  • overall cost of operation over the life of the equipment

One way to make these assessments is to compare the performance standards of the different manufacturers' products according to the standards that apply via ISO (the International Standards Organisation) under which there are a series of standards covering Compressed Air Quality. There are nine areas of quality classification for the main air contaminants as well as testing methods for them. The air purity classifications dictate how much contamination is allowable per cubic metre of compressed air. These classifications are used by manufacturers to rate the air delivered by their products. In this way, users can easily compare and contrast the performance of different products. The caveat to this is that the test methods were originally developed to verify air quality in the system rather than testing the purification equipment which means that not all products are tested in the same way.

The selection of the correct air filter for compressed air depends on specific parameters of use and location. Compressed air quality regulations are governed by the widespread and growing demands of industry. In manufacturing technology (for example, in food and beverage production, hospitals, electronics manufacturing or pharmaceuticals), quality of compressed air is relative to use and differs widely. Air filters therefore need to be selected for the properties that best match the air quality needed to prevent downtime, systems breakdown or low productivity. Where air impurities such as viruses, bacteria or possibly dust from insecticides present great danger, the selection of filter and filter material is of huge importance. The exact grade of air quality required differs therefore, according to the factors at play.

Delivering dry, contaminant-free air allows more efficient, effective and economical operations. Damage occurs to plant and equipment when water, oil, gases and dust enter into systems such as pipelines and fittings; compressed air filters and dryers can help eliminate the conditions for such damage/malfunction.

It is generally held that there are 10 major contaminants found in compressed air. Nine of these are removed using filtration technology. Filter design is based mostly on what works! In other words, development is largely empirical - the result of experiment and observation. Filter material design and specification needs to demonstrate better than adequate retention capacity, separating ability, a stable pressure build up and low pressure loss.

The type of material and its weight, the thickness of layer, loss of pressure at nominal volume flow, volume flow per unit of surface and permissible static pressure difference are all considered in the specification of filter material. However, due to the wide range of locations and conditions in which compressed air is used, these are only foundational specifications; there are other elements that need to be accounted for such as chemical and thermal resistance for example.

In conclusion, compressed air filters have a wide range of applications and selection of the most suitable will depend not only on cost (possibly this is the least important factor) but on the contaminants to be removed, the operating environment, the air quality delivered, environmental impact, and the overall cost of operation over the lifetime of the product.

Caron Rose writes for HP Pneumatics, an Aberdeen company of pneumatic engineering experts. HPP supply and fit pneumatic tools for industry, as well as repairing, servicing and installing pneumatic and compressor systems. The service offered to customers is of the highest priority - and is based on experience, competitive prices, extensive stock holding and speedy delivery.

For more information about our pneumatic air tools, services or products, call us for an informal chat on +44 (0) 1224 783371.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

How to Make Your Industrial Air Compressor Operate More Efficiently

It's no secret in the industrial world that compressed air is the least efficient form of energy used on a shop floor. Dollar for dollar, the cost of producing pneumatic energy for various machinery functions is staggering.

Chicago Pneumatic QRS 10HP Belt Drive Rotary Screw Air CompressorUnfortunately, a rotary screw air compressor is very inefficient by design. Electricity enters the factory from the utility pole and does not produce energy until it has turned the rotary screw compressor, pressurized the air lines, proceed through the shop to its intended destination, and then finally producing movement or action via a pneumatic cylinder or device. This complex and elaborate system has many opportunities for waste. The key to conserving energy and producing the most useful pneumatic energy for the least amount of money is analysis and observation. Many inefficiencies can be corrected once they have been identified.

An air compressor is not just a machine. Since the air compressor produces energy it should be treated as a system, hence the compressor becomes the compressed air system.

Begin by listing the air uses and their design cfm and pressure. Record the power consumption before making any system changes. this can be accomplished through the use of a kwh meter. Identify and track and leaks, most of these should be easy to find since they are most often near the point of end use. Once the leaks have been identified, begin repairs, of course from the largest air leaks on down the line. The installation of a flow meter on the main line is also helpful to gain an understanding of the savings from a standpoint of cfm. The compressed air system should also be operated at the lowest possible pressure once some of the larger leaks have been repaired. Another tip is to install a normally closed air valve on the main line to each piece of equipment so the entire machine can be taken out of the compressed air circuit when not in use. Factory engineers should also take a step back and analyze whether compressed air is the best application for your automation in the first place. Many point of use pneumatic operations operate inefficiently by design. Installation of additional gauges and flow motors throughout your shop can also supply a better understanding of factory use and misuse.

The compressed air system is a complex system that warrants constant monitoring. Saving money on utilities is a priority for any factory or industrial facility and an unruly air compressor can be the source of much waste. Remember to baseline and track your progress as you make changes and improvements. This progress needs to be documented for the decision makers within your organization.

Chet is affiliated with Industrial Flea Market who offers a free forum to list used industrial parts and machinery for sale.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Variable Speed Compressors

Variable Speed Compressors are also know as variable speed drive compressors, and are air compressors that take advantage of variable speed drive technology. They employ a special drive which controls the RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) speed of the compressor, and this in turn saves energy when compared to its fixed speed equivalent.

The most common form used in the air compressor industry uses a variable-frequency drive, and this is used to convert the AC input power to DC and then back to a quasi-sinusoidal AC power, with the use of an inverter switching circuit.

The main benefits are, reduced power cost, reduced power surges, and the delivery of more constant pressure. The downside is the heavy expense of the drive and their sensitivity to heat and moisture.

They combine a speed inverter, which converts the AC signal to DC and speeds up or slows down the motor, with a pressure transducer to precisely match the compressed air output to demand. The energy efficiency of these compressors results in worthwhile savings on energy costs for users with fluctuating compressed air requirements. The demands for air in nearly every compressed air system fluctuate to some extent. If a compressor has a fixed speed, then it means that it will be switching on and off and probably running inefficiently.

As energy costs have increased it has become more cost effective to use these compressors. These types of compressors will only produce the volume of compressed air required and can be a very effective way of saving energy. If more than one fixed compressor is used, it may be more cost effective to have only one compressor to handle the variable part of the air demand. Studies have proven that better control, housekeeping and maintenance could save operators up to one third of the energy used across their compressed air systems.

There are other types of air compressors and these can include:
  • Rotary screw compressors
  • Variable speed compressors
  • Vane compressors
  • Reciprocating compressors
With the focus on reducing your carbon footprint, variable speed technology can reduce electrical running costs whilst maintaining system reliability.

If you are in need of this service check out our product pages, they contain many companies that specialise in this. John Cheesman writes about Variable Speed Compressors. Visit the Businessmagnet product page for details and suppliers of Variable Speed Compressors.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Top 7 Compressed Air Energy Saving Tips

Would you like to reduce electrical costs related to your compressed air system?

More than likely - you can. Start by determining your annual compressed air electrical costs by using this formula:

Brake Horse Power X 0.746 X Annual Hours of Operation X KWH (Kilowatt-Hour) Cost (divided by) Motor Efficiency

NOTE: 1 CFM (Cubit Feet per Minute) @ 100 PSIG (pound-force per square inch gauge) FOR 8760 HOURS COST $110.00 PER YEAR IN ELECTRICAL COST

Next...follow these Top 7 Compressed Air Energy Saving Tips:

1. Fix your Air Leaks

If you do nothing else - follow this one tip: Find and fix your compressed air leaks. Air leaks are industrys' "biggest looser"!

The average plant loses 20% to 30% it its compressed air through multiple small air leaks. The money spent on man power and parts to find and fix these leaks is well worth it. Note (a 1/4 inch hole will flow 103 cfm @ 100 psig)

2. Change to Synthetic Lubricants

If you are using petroleum based lubricants, you could experience up to an 8% energy savings by switching to Compressor Synthetic Lubricants. Plus extend equipment life and save on oil changes and disposal cost.

3. Reduce Plant Operating Pressure

If possible - reduce overall plant pressure. Less pressure > Less CFM used > less energy consumed.

TIP: Reduce plant pressure 2 pounds at a time, then test run for minimum 24 hours. If any equipment has issues...then increase pressure 2 pounds until running smoothly again. For every 2 pound pressure reduction -you save 1% of the electrical cost to run the air compressor.

4. Check Differential Pressure on Air Compressor Filters.

Start at the compressor cabinet filter then check the compressor inlet filter.

Note: A dirty inlet filter can cost you 1% to 3 % in additional electrical costs. Why? Because decreased air flow to the compressor inlet valve increases the compression ratios resulting in more run time.

Next check the air/oil separator differential pressure under a full load. A new separator causes a differential pressure drop of approximately 2-3 psig. When your pressure drop reaches 8-10 psig, then it is time to change your separator elements. A dirty separator element can cost you up to 5% in additional electrical cost.

Next change the control air filter element. This often over looked, but still important filter where the controls receive their air signal. A pressure drop here causes the controls to receive the lower pressure signal loading the compressor more and using more electricity.

5. Reduce the Compressor Inlet Temperature

By reducing inlet air temperature 10°F below 70°F, you save 2% on electrical usage. Your benefit increases up to 8% on a 30°F degree day. But increasing the inlet temperature 10°F above 70°F will cost you 2% in additional electrical usage for every 10°F up to 10% at 120°F. (Inlet temperature has very little affect on Lubricated screw compressors)

6. Check Differential Pressure on Compressed Air Line Filters.

Size Compressed Air Filters to be twice (2x) your compressor CFM flow rate. This will lower your pressure drop approximately 2-3 psig and save 1% on energy costs. Elements will last twice (2x) as long and you will save on maintenance costs.

7. Know what quality of compressed air your plant needs.

The cleaner & dryer the compressed air the more energy used.

Check with the manufacturer of your equipment to determine the quality of air needed.

Tommy McGuire
McGuire Air Compressors, Inc.
"Real People with Real Air Compressor Experience"

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

What is Contaminating Your Compressed Air?

"Clean, dry, oil free compressed air and gas is a basic need for many industries"
One drop of unwanted oil can cause an entire automated process to malfunction. It can cause seals in pneumatic valves and cylinders to swell, resulting in sluggish operation - or in worst cases, complete seizure of moving parts.

Three things that can contaminate your compressed air system and ruin your product or processes.

1) Solid particles come from ambient air contaminants like dust and from rusted, oxidized pipework. They will cause pneumatic equipment to malfunction, cause instrument and control failures, and contaminate end products.

2) Condensed water droplets come from the humidity in ambient air. Water will oxidize pipework and pneumatic equipment, ruin paint finishes and end products.

3) Liquid oil and oil vapors are introduced by compressor lubricants and by hydrocarbon vapors present in ambient air. Oil-free compressed air is particularly important in food and pharmaceutical processes.

Compressed Air Filters effectively and efficiently remove solid particles, remnants of oil, water mist and other liquid from compressed air and gas which can... -wear out pneumatic machinery -block valves and orifices, causing high maintenance -corrode piping systems which cause costly air leaks -result in abrupt equipment stoppages, lost product, time and money

How to clean your Compressed Air...

Depending on the level of air purity required, different levels of filtration and types of filters are used. Filters are used in conjunction with other "filtering equipment" - such as a Water Separator or Compressed Air Dryer- to help remove harmful contaminates from your system.

General Purpose Filters - also called "particulate filters" are used to remove solid particles. Oil and Oil Vapor Removal Filters - also called "coalescing-type filters" are used to remove oil and vapors.

A particulate filter is recommended after a desiccant-type dryer to remove desiccant fines. A coalescing-type filter is recommended before a desiccant type dryer to prevent fouling of the desiccant bed. Additional filtration may also be needed to meet requirements for specific end uses. Compressed air filters downstream of the air compressor are generally required for the removal of contaminants, such as particulates, condensate, and lubricant.

Listed below are types of filtration equipment available in today's market. The specifications offered are from Champion Air Compressors as a market example.

Water Separator Installation: after an air compressors' (or a stand-alone) aftercooler Design: One-stage filtration with two stainless steel orifice tubes. Labyrinth style air flow path removes liquid water by forcing abrupt directional changes. Performance*: Handles bulk liquid inlet loads to 30,000 ppm w/w and provides 10 micron solid particulate separation. Efficient to flows as low as 5% of rated flow.

Separator/Filter Installation: after an air compressors' (or a stand-alone) aftercooler or as a prefilter to a refrigerated dryer Design: Two-stage filtration with first stage of two stainless steel orifice tubes which remove bulk liquids and solid particulates to 10 micron. Second stage has in-depth coalescing fiber media which captures solid particulates to 3 micron. Performance*: Handles bulk liquid inlet loads to 25,000 ppm w/w and provides 3 micron solid particulate filtration.

General Purpose Filter Installation: 1 micron particulate prefilter for refrigerated dryers and high efficiency oil removal filters. Design: Two-stage filtration with a first stage of multiple layers of fiber media which pre-filter the air. Second stage has indepth coalescing fiber media which coalesces oil aerosols and removes finer particulates to 1 micron. Performance*: Handles bulk liquid inlet loads to 2,000 ppm w/w, provides 1 micron solid particulate filtration and oil removal to 1 ppm.

Dry Particulate Filter Installation: Dry, solid particulate afterfilter for heatless desiccant dryers Design: Two-stage filtration with life-prolonging outside/in air flow with first stage of alternate layers of fiber media and a media screen capturing large particulates. Second stage captures finer particulates. Not designed for any liquid loading. Performance*: Provides 1 micron solid particulate filtration of desiccant dust.

High Efficiency Oil Removal Filter Installation: Prefilter to desiccant and membrane dryers, afterfilter to refrigerated dryers and stand-alone oil removal at the point-of-use of compressed air. Design: Two-stage filtration with a first stage of multiple layers of fiber media which prefilter the air. Second stage has in-depth coalescing fiber media which coalesces oil aerosols. Includes an outer-coated, closed cell foam sleeve. Performance*: Handles bulk liquid water inlet loads to 1,000 ppm w/w and provides 0.008 ppm oil aerosol removal and 0.01 micron solid particulate separation.

Maximum Efficiency Oil Removal Filter Installation: Prefilter to desiccant and membrane dryers with a Grade C prefilter, oil-free air applications. Design: Two-stage filtration with a first stage of a coated, closed-cell foam sleeve which acts as a prefilter and flow disperser. Second stage has in-depth coalescing fiber media which coalesces fine oil aerosols. Includes an outer coated, closed cell foam sleeve. Performance*: Handles bulk liquid water inlet loads to 100 ppm w/w and provides 0.0008 ppm oil aerosol removal and 0.01 micron solid particulate separation.

Oil Vapor Removal Filter Installation: Afterfilter to high efficiency liquid oil removal filters for true oil-free applications. Design: Two-stage filtration with a generously-sized first stage of a stabilized bed of carbon particles which remove the majority of the oil vapor. Second stage has multiple layers of fiber media with bonded microfine carbon particles which remove the remaining oil vapors. Includes an outer-coated, closed cell foam sleeve which prevents fiber migration. Performance**: No liquid should be present at filter inlet. Provides 0.003 ppm w/w oil (as a vapor) removal and 0.01 micron solid particulate separation.

* Filter efficiencies have been established in accordance with CAGI standard ADF400 and are based on 100°F (38°C) inlet temperature ** Filter efficiency has been established in accordance with CAGI standard ADF500 and is based on 100°F (38°C) inlet temperature

Filtration only to the level required by each compressed air application will minimize pressure drop and resultant energy consumption. Elements should also be replaced as indicated by pressure differential to minimize pressure drop and energy consumption, and should be checked at least annually. You can customize your air treatment applications by choosing the combination of dryers, filters, and separators that give you the level of clean air or gas that you need.

Who establishes quality industry standards for filters?

ISO 8573.1 was developed in 1992 by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) to help plant engineers specify desired compressed air quality globally by providing "Quality Classes" for solid particulates, humidity and oil. Quality classes provide engineers with an internationally accepted unit of measure.

A typical pharmaceutical plant, for example, would have a compressed air specification of ISO Quality Classes 1.2.1. This is equivalent to 0.1 micron particulate filtration, -40°F (-40°C) dew point, and 0.008 ppm (0.01 mg/m3) oil filtration. No matter what language is spoken and what unit of measure is used, using ISO 8573.1 Air Quality Classes ensures that your factory will get the compressed air quality you specified.

Owned & Operated by
Tommy McGuire
McGuire Air Compressors, Inc.

"Real People with Real Air Compressor Experience"

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