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Technology, Air Treatment

Back to Basics: Everything You Need to Know About Refrigerated Dryers


Different methods can be used to remove the moisture content from compressed air to maintain a high level of air quality in manufacturing plants. One of the most popular ways to dry air is through the use of a refrigerated dryer, which can be classified as either variable speed dryer or non-cycling.

How do refrigerated air dryers work?

These dryers work similarly to domestic refrigerators or home air conditioning systems where the compressed air is cooled in an air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger at 35℉, and the condensed moisture is drained off. An air-to-air heat exchanger is used to both pre-cool the incoming air and reheat the outgoing air as it leaves the dryer. Subsequently as compressed air leaves the dryer, it has a pressure dew point of 35-50℉.

Variable speed vs. non-cycling refrigerated dryers

Because most compressed air systems do not operate under static flow and temperature conditions, variable speed refrigeration is used to control the refrigerant compressor during reduce loads and lower temperature conditions. The ability to match dryer energy consumption to air demand helps provide significant savings in operating costs.

In a non-cycling dryer, the refrigerant compressor runs continuously. Because ambient temperatures and the flow of compressed air vary, a bypass valve is often used to regulate the temperature of refrigerant while preventing freezing operating conditions within the system.

Benefits of refrigerated dryers

  • Low initial capital cost
  • Relatively low operating cost
  • Low maintenance costs 
Interested in learning more about refrigerated dryers and compressed air technology? You can download a free copy of the Compressed Air Manual, or contact an Atlas Copco expert for additional questions.

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