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Untreated compressed air always contains contaminants because of the nature of the gas and how it is produced. The need for air treatment basically results from 3 characteristics of compressed air.
As water is incompressible, the amount of moisture per m³ increases when air is compressed. The maximum amount of moisture per m³ air1 is however limited for a certain temperature. Condensation will thus be formed when air is compressed.
Added by the compressor installation through oil lubricated compressors (oil), adsorption dryers and activated carbon filters (dirt), piping network and vessels (pipescale).
Trash in, trash out: oil vapors from car exhausts and industrial processes, atmospheric dirt and micro-organisms get sucked in by the compressor. As with water, their concentration – and thus importance – increases significantly after compression.
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Dry air is mainly composed of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%). Air will keep the same nitrogen/oxygen ratio after compression, so additional treatment is needed to change this gas mix.
Air treatment is often initially overlooked in the planning process of a brewery, but it is imperative to make sure you are using filters, dryers, condensate management and nitrogen to produce the best product without contaminates.
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