Reciprocating air compressors are on site utilities that intermittently use electricity to run pumps in order to compress, store and release energy on demand. Managing compressors is not difficult, however it does require consistent attention. Compressing air also compresses water in the air which condenses and pools inside the expansion tank. Water in the expansion tank increases the humidity and will always get into the air network and the air tools if not drained.
Water in the air network is a critical concern because most tools and accessories, including pressure regulators, are not made with stainless steel and are highly susceptible to internal rusting. Water in the expansion tank is a safety issue first. If you have ever been in a garage when a tire explodes from being overfilled, you have experienced the negative effects of a rusted regulator. Maintaining low humidity in the air network will increase safety, improve air quality and lower costs.
In our opinion, drying the humidity that is already in the lines is a last resort option, similar to moisture traps. Relying on in line systems as a primary source of air drying significantly increases the electricity costs and leave no room for error. For this article we are focusing on air management without using air dryers and/or conditioners (desiccant or otherwise). Humidity prevention as opposed to removal.
A question that plagues owners and operators of air networks is
“What is the best way of preventing moisture content from entering the compressed air network?”
The answer lies in the management of condensate that pools during the air compression.
There are generally two ways that condensate can be managed.
1 The first is with employee labor physically pulling the valve to drain the tank on a schedule. Unfortunately, real life gets in the way of employee labor being completely dependable whether through forgetting or worse.
2 The other is using time based drain valves, which automatically open in preset intervals for a defined length of time. These deceptively lure compressed air network owners into a false sense of protection. They operate without knowledge of the humidity content of the air being compressed. Without knowing this, the air tank gets emptied whether or not there is condensate present. The exposure risk to the network on high humidity days is still there because it only takes one contact with condensate for rust to be a valid concern.
At the other end of the spectrum, in arid environments, time based drains waste air and energy when they open the valve when no condensate is present to drain. This unnecessarily decreases the air pressure causing the pump to cycle and increasing the energy consumption and wear and tear profiles of the compressor pumps.
A low cost automation solution for reciprocating air compressors is available that eliminates the need for human interaction AND intelligently removes condensate to prevent it from entering the network by using math. The Compressor Controller measures the humidity and temperature of the air during compression and calculates the water buildup that pools in the tank and drains it accordingly for maximum condensate removal with the least energy expense.
Using math to proper calculate the condensate present allows the Compressors Controller to prevent humidity buildup through expulsion rather than removal through dehumidification, which will always have a substantial energy cost associated with it.
The automatic drain feature provides compressed air network owners with the comfort of knowing with certainty that their compressor assets are maintaining the proper conditions to extend their lives by preventing the sensors, tools and accessories from rust exposure.
The Compressor Controller improves safety, reduces wasted air and energy and most importantly pays for itself by saving money at all times.