Fighting harmful moisture in compressed air

Because the ambient air that surrounds us is never perfectly dry, there is always moisture in compressed air. In total volume, this moisture is the most prominent contaminant that you have to deal with.

If left untreated, it can cause serious and expensive problems in your compressed air system, your production processes and even your end products.

The moisture enters your system through the intake in the form of water vapor. That makes it a so-called “atmospheric contaminant.” During the compression process, the vapor is turned into condensate.

How much moisture you end up with in your compressed air depends on a variety of factors. For example, if the compressor room is especially hot and humid, the water content increases. And facilities near the ocean are also problematic because there the intake air also contains salt. 

What makes moisture in compressed air so dangerous

Corrosion
It would be easy to say: “Hey, it’s just water, so what’s the problem?” But that would be a very costly mistake because condensate in your compressed air system can do real damage.

That all starts with your equipment and piping. Untreated condensate can lead to corrosion. When that happens, tiny rust particles can come loose, contaminate the air and then do more harm in your downstream tools and equipment.

And in the winter, water in the pipes can freeze, which can damage control lines. It should go without saying that all of these issues can shorten the lifespan of the equipment and increase your maintenance costs.

And that’s not even the worst of it.

How moisture can ruin your end products – with devastating consequences

While water sustains life on our planet, it can do a lot of damage in compressed air systems. This especially applies to certain products and substances.

Take just about any powder, like many of those that are used in the food industry. Mix them with water and they become clumpy. If it’s flour, then it might become unusable. Sugar becomes a sticky mess.

In either case, customers won’t appreciate what they’ll find when they open the package.

An even more serious problem is that moisture in compressed air can lead to the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria. This is especially a concern whenever it comes to the manufacture of products that are ingested. This includes the food & beverage sector as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

Here, these microorganisms can greatly impact product quality and safety. This can harm consumers and lead to costly production shutdowns, recalls or lawsuits.

How to fight moisture in compressed air

While the dangers of moisture in your compressed air are grave, the proper treatment technologies allow you to all but eliminate these risks.

Let’s take a look at the options and the equipment that is available to you and how it works. It is important to note that this type of air treatment comes at a cost. However, this cost is lower than that of not treating air. You should still be aware of your specific compressed air requirements to optimize your investment and reduce operating expenses. 

Aftercoolers

These machines lower the temperature of the compressed air so that the moisture condenses. This leads to the formation of droplets that can then be collected and drained using a water separator. 

Dryers

Air dryers play a key role in any air treatment strategy. They can be installed at different points in your system and effectively eliminate moisture. However, it is important to use efficient models and to find the right type of dryers. Depending on your air quality requirements, you can choose between refrigerated air dryers, desiccant air dryers and membrane air dryers

Filters

There are filters for all types of contaminants, and you can install them throughout your system. Some of them are designed specifically for removing moisture. Once again, it depends on which air quality you are hoping to achieve. 

Working with the right partner

If you have questions about moisture in your compressed air and what to do about it, just contact Pneumatech. Our experts will gladly answer all of your questions and can offer effective treatment options.

For example, Pneumatech offers a wide range of dryers. They will not only allow you to reduce the moisture in your compressed air but also to do so efficiently.

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