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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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