How to prevent condensation in industrial air compressors with air dryers

Date Published: March 28, 2019

Prevent Condensation in Industrial Air Compressors

Condensation is a natural result of industrial air compression. A few factors influence how much condensation builds up, including humidity, temperature, dew point and usage.

Although an unavoidable occurrence, condensation creates a wealth of problems in both industrial air compressors and jobsites, including rusting, corrosion, malfunction, and limiting the lifespan of your equipment.

Luckily, using an air dryer is an easy, cost-effective solution to preventing condensation in industrial air compressors.

Learn more about how two commonly used industrial air dryers work and how they can help to lengthen the life of your air compressors, increase air quality and reduce maintenance costs.

How does condensation form in air compressors?

Water vapour is present in all atmospheric air. When air becomes compressed through an industrial air compressor, the air molecules get separated from the water, leaving the water to build up in the air compressor’s receiving tanks, air lines or pneumatic tools.

When industrial processes demand large amount of air, the built-up water gets carried through the machine in either the liquid or vapor phase and remains inside unless it is removed.

A variety of factors can influence how much condensation forms in air compressors, including:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Dew point (the atmospheric temperature below which water droplets begin to condense and dew can form)
  • Continuous operating time

Since cool air is dryer than warm air, warmer air contains more moisture, making the need for air dryers even more essential in hot, humid industrial environments and applciations.  

Side effects of condensation in air compressors

In addition to effecting equipment productivity, condensation, or moisture, can shorten the life of an air compressor and cause operational problems in the following ways:

  • Limiting the effectiveness of filters
  • Shortening the life of bearings and other components – bearings, specifically, are very costly to replace.
  • Cutting the effectiveness of the air compressor’s oil short
  • Rusting internal components and corroding piping and equipment
  • Freezing outdoor lines
  • Causing malfunction in the pneumatic process control instruments

Ensuring your industrial equipment is operating effectively is paramount to limiting the potential for downtime on your jobsite.

How can an air dryer help prevent air compressor condensation?

While it’s literally impossible to completely prevent moisture from accumulating in your industrial air compressor, luckily, air dryers are an easy, cost-efficient solution for removing moisture from your compressor.

What is an Air Dryer?

A compressed air dryer is a device for removing water vapor from compressed air. They are commonly used in a wide range of industrial and commercial air compressors. Water vapor is removed from compressed air to prevent condensation from occurring and moisture from interfering in sensitive industrial processes.

How do Air Dryers work?

There are various types of air dryers. The two most common air dryers used in industrial applications are Refrigerated Dryers and Desiccant Dryers.

Refrigerated air dryers are used in most industrial applications and remove moisture and contaminants from compressed air by cooling the compressed air as low as 38°F, reducing the pressure dew point of the compressed air. The dew point refers to the temperature at which condensate forms. That is when the air reaches 100% humidity and can’t hold any more water. After condensate has formed, it is removed and then the air is reheated and dried.

Desiccant air dryers utilize the adsorption method of moisture removal and are applied when air quality requirements call for pressure dew points below 38°F and can produce few points as low as -100 °F. Water in the compressed air is chemically bound to an adsorption material and dissolves. Both the water and material is then discarded.

Most desiccant dryers use a dual tower design where one tower is drying while the other is being regenerated. Whether using a heatless or heated blower dryer, the compressed air produced is thoroughly dried as it is directed through the on-line desiccant-filled tower of the dryer. As the desiccant in this tower adsorbs moisture from the air, the desiccant in the dryer’s offline tower is purged of moisture and readied for use. The basic difference in the three technologies is the manner in which moisture is desorbed from the desiccant, also known as regeneration.

How do I dispose condensation?

The excess condensation must be disposed of carefully and within local environmental regulation standards. Along with water condensation, oil particles that are too small to be visible to the human eye, are released with the condensate.

Typically, the condensate drains are located on the back of your industrial air compressor’s air dryer. An oil/water separator should be purchased for use in conjunction with the air dryer.

Don’t risk air compressor condensation and jobsite productivity and contact Axiom Equipment Group for a wide range of air dryers and air dryer accessories today.

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