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Chocolate Bars
Oil-Free Air Compressors

How sweet it is: Oil-free air compression and the chocolate factory


Who knew technology played such a key role in some of the simple (and sweet) pleasures of life?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, our thoughts often go to sweet gifts. What’s your favorite chocolate? Do you have a favorite type of candy?

Compressed air is integral to producing these sweet rewards. So before cupid can even draw back his bow, compressed air has already made an impact.

Compressed air and the chocolate factory

Walk around a chocolate manufacturing factory, and you’ll see compressed air in use everywhere. It’s what perpetuates milk processing equipment and its valves. It controls air motors that keep liquid chocolate churning.

That’s not all. Compressed air also:

  • Purifies dust-control equipment
  • Regulates offloading and storage equipment
  • Works modulating control valves

Compressed air is such a key component in this environment that we’d have to give our valentine something besides chocolate if it wasn’t there. The highest quality of compressed air is essential and it must be guaranteed ISO 8573-1 oil-free. High quality, efficient compressed air ensures the best end-product, helps improve shelf life, and also helps to keep the cost of your favorite chocolate down – that’s something to celebrate! 

When it comes to oil-free compressed air – what are some of the common questions we hear?

Q: What is oil-free air?

A: Compressors that do not use oil or lubricants in the air compression chamber produce oil-free air and are ranked by ISO as Class 0. Prior to 2001, Class 1 was the top classification and was referred to as “technically oil-free air.” However, this still allowed oil content up to 0.01 mg/m3, which is enough to damage sensitive applications.

Q: It seems like there could be problems producing oil-free air if the compressor is housed in a harsh or dirty environment. Does the quality of ambient air effect output air?

A: No. Atlas Copco oil-free compressors are tested in an average polluted industrial environment near a factory rather than in a laboratory. The TÜV, an independent, international organization specializing in evaluating the safety and quality of technologies, conducts the tests. Even with heavy machining activity and vehicle traffic in the area, the TÜV found that the ambient air oil content was only 0.003 mg/m3. (The ISO “technically oil-free” standard is much higher than that at 0.01 mg/m3.) Most industrial environments fall in this range, so no significant oil will be picked up from ambient air.

Q: How does an oil-free compressor remove oil and other pollutants from ambient air?

A: Ambient air has very small traces of oil coming from vehicles and industrial sources. Aspirated by an oil-free air compressor, this extremely low level of atmospheric oil is washed away by the condensate in the intercooler and aftercooler, resulting in pure, oil-free air for your process.

Q: I don’t have an oil-free compressor but I use an oil-filter. Doesn’t that guarantee all oil is removed, making my air oil-free?

A: No. While coalescing filters remove oil aerosols and liquids, they don’t remove oil vapors. With oil-injected compressed air systems, there can be up to four times more oil vapor in output air than oil aerosols. Without removing the vapor, your air is still contaminated, posing a risk for applications from automotive work to pharmaceutical production.

Q: Are there any real risks of using an oil-injected compressor system for a sensitive application?

A: Absolutely. Compressor oil accounts for the majority of contamination in oil-injected compressor systems. Relying on filters and dryers to remove oil increases contamination risks. There are three key failure risks associated with oil-injected compressor systems:

  • When the temperature increases, more oil will carry over through filters.
  • High temperatures severely reduce the lifetime of activated carbon filters.
  • If filters are not changed in a timely manner, oil will enter the process.

Atlas Copco leads the way in oil-free air compressors

Candy isn’t the only industry that relies on oil-free air compression. In addition to food and medical use, they’re key in the development of paper and semiconductors, among other products. The common denominator: These outputs would suffer adverse effects, as would their consumers, from even a trace of oil in the air used. 

With Atlas Copco, you have a better solution, including:

Environmental compliance

Oil-free air technology is international-regulation friendly. As you protect your environment and adhere to ordinances, you also remove the need for condensate treatment, as well as less energy expelled and leaks.

High air quality

Class 0 quality is crucial for food, beverage, petrochemical processing, and electronics manufacturing. Class 1 just isn’t good enough.

Global service network

This asset keeps your oil-free compressed equipment available and reliable. Atlas Copco leverages the global leader in compressed-air service.

ISO certified tech

Did you know Atlas Copco was the first company to achieve ISO 8573-1 Class 0 (2010) and ISO 22000 certification? It received both for its Antwerp, Belgium, oil-free production facility.

Wide range

There are oil-free solutions for any application, including:

  • Centrifugal
  • Dental
  • Piston
  • Rotary screw
  • Scroll
  • Water injection

The experts with Atlas Copco apply decades of industry experience to the development of oil-free air compression for various businesses today. Needs can be great or small, and vary by industry and company. Atlas Copco systems meet all the needs a brand can have in its production.

You can read more here: If you need help, reach out to an Atlas Copco expert to assist!

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