Compressed air contamination doesn’t simply disappear during the air compression process – even if you’re using an oil-free air compressor! Atmospheric air is naturally contaminated; in addition, there are a variety of contaminants that are typically found within a compressed air system itself. These include water vapor, oil vapor, liquid oil, liquid water, pipe scale/rust, water aerosols, oil aerosols, microorganisms, and atmospheric dirt. The presence of these contaminants means that air purification equipment (also known as air treatment products or compressed air ancillary products) is required to reduce, or wholly remove, the contamination from the compressed air.
How Should I Treat Compressed Air?
There are many air treatment options that are available to treat compressed air to the purity level required by your application! Depending on your end-use, some (or all) of these items might be necessary for your compressed air installation.
To control contamination and condensate, you should treat your compressed air by following three basic steps: 1. Dry; 2. Filter; and 3. Separate. The air treatment products associated with the above steps are:
Dryers. Air dryers remove water vapor from compressed air, which helps to avoid potential issues from occurring down the line. These include equipment failures, corrosion, and product spoilage.
Filter. Filters are used to remove particles, condensate, and oil from the compressed air after compression has occurred. Specific types are particulate filters, coalescing filters, and vapor removal filters.
Oil-Water Separators. This piece of equipment separates the oil from the condensate that compressed air generates, ensuring that you can then dispose of the condensate in an economical and environmentally-friendly way.
Drains. Available in different types such as automatic, manual, and no-air-loss, this product allows the condensate that is collected from the system to automatically drain away - thus preventing collected condensate from re-entering the compressed air system.
Why Should I Treat Compressed Air?
While each compressed air installation is unique, one thing remains consistent across all systems: the necessity of properly treating compressed air. By allowing moisture, dirt, and particle matter to stay in the system, you are risking a decrease in system efficiency, as well as increased downtime for extended repairs and maintenance of the equipment the air powers.
However, by ensuring that your compressor installation utilizes the correct air treatment products, you can simultaneously reduce the maintenance and energy costs of your application. And as an added bonus, you’ll have the peace of mind that you are setting up your compressor system for a longer, productive lifespan.