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Service, Parts & Maintenance

How to Avoid Microorganisms in Compressed Air


Note: this is a summary of our Compressed Air and Microorganism Growth whitepaper.

Did you know that microorganisms thrive in moist, humid environments – environments that can be created by compressing atmospheric air? This means that in industries like food and beverage (where clean and dry compressed air is particularly essential), it’s necessary to eliminate the conditions that permit microorganism growth, thereby reducing the risk of microorganism growth in the final product.

All microorganisms require five factors to remain viable and reproduce: nutrients, proper pH, gases, temperatures, and moisture. However, nutrients, the proper pH, and gases aren’t impacted by the air in the compression process; this means that only temperature and moisture can be directly linked to/impacted by air compression.

Temperature. Every microorganism has its own heat tolerance, though heat is normally lethal to these organisms. In oil-free compressors, the high temperature in oil-free compression elements (>180°C or 356°F) is typically high enough to significant reduce the presence of microorganisms.

Moisture. Like with temperature, the amount of moisture needed for microorganism growth varies per organisms. With that said, a relative humidity level of 75% or above is typically needed for growth, and a relative humidity level of 50% or less usually results in little to no microorganism proliferation. A key target to shoot for is between 10% and 20% relative humidity to inhibit growth altogether.

Concerned that your application may be impacted by unwanted microorganisms? Chat with an Atlas Copco air expert today – we can help you determine if this is the case! You can also read the full whitepaper here.

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