How Pneumatic System Contamination Causes Failures
Are your pneumatic systems having frequent component failures costing you expensive downtime? Have your pneumatic valves been sticking in their position and not shifting? Are you finding water in your pneumatic components? If so, contamination is likely the main source of your failures and removing these contaminants is key to getting your systems operating more reliably for you.
Contamination comes in many forms, some of which you can see and others you cannot. Contamination can be water, dirt/debris, oil, bacteria or wear components from pneumatic components. Removing this contamination as close to its source as possible is key to keep your pneumatic system running smoothly. The quality of the air being drawn in by your air compressor from the surrounding atmosphere has a huge impact on the initial contamination levels for your pneumatic system.
Even a small 100CFM compressor and refrigeration dryer combination operating for 4,000 per year in normal climate conditions can generate about 2,200 gallons of liquid condensate per year. A water separator can remove the free water from the system, but water vapors and aerosols in your pneumatic system can also lead to component wear and damage. Depending on your component or applications needs, you need to provide the air at a dew point that is suitable for your application. Most industrial applications require air at a dew point of around +40° Fahrenheit, which a refrigeration dryer can achieve. However, most paint or instrumentation applications need dew points of -40° Fahrenheit for them to operate at an optimal level. These dew point levels can only be achieved by using a desiccant filter to chemically remove the water vapor from the system. In addition to water causing corrosion and pneumatic seals to swell and stick, water in your pneumatic system can also wash out the factory pre-installed lubrication causing premature component failure. Filter systems can remove oil and dust, but you need well-maintained air dryers to remove water and adjust humidity levels. Rust and pipe scale is found in systems without adequate water removal and contributes to significant amounts of contamination.
In an industrial environment, there are about 140 to 150 million particles of dirt in each cubic yard of air. Over 80 percent of these particles are too small to be captured by the compressor’s intake filter and pass directly into the compressed air system. Most industrial applications can suitably operate with air filtration of 40 microns, which is easily achieved with standard particulate filters. However, removing particulates down to 5 microns, which is standard for Parker Global FRL components, greatly reduces the number of contaminants being delivered to your components and reduces the internal wear of your components. However, sensitive applications require much greater filtration. Coalescing filters will reduce contamination levels to .01 micron, which is below bacteria levels. They not only remove solid particulates but also aerosols (very small droplets of water or oil) from your pneumatic systems. These filters are usually installed in pairs with the standard particulate filter followed by the coalescing filter.
RG Group can provide you with a full line of dryers, separators and particulate filters that you need to keep your pneumatic system clean, cool and dry. Providing well-conditioned air to your pneumatic components will keep them running reliably and keep your systems running at peak efficiency.