Why Use Clean, Dry Compressed Air?

Why Use Clean, Dry Compressed Air - Parker HannifinCompressed air is used in a wide range of industrial applications. Proper compressed air treatment is necessary to protect equipment and avoid production downtime and maintenance. In almost all applications throughout a manufacturing plant, the use of clean, dry compressed air will result in lower operating costs.

If compressed air is left untreated, contaminants such as dirt, water, and oil will be deposited on the inner surfaces of pipes and fittings. The build-up will eventually cause an increase in pressure drop in the line. Lower air pressure will result in loss of the energy used to compress the air. Reduced pressure at the point of use will result in a loss of performance efficiency, amounting to thousands of dollars in lost production time and maintenance.

Liquid water present in the compressed air is particularly problematic as it will accelerate corrosion and shorten the useful life of equipment. Corrosion particles will plug valves, fittings, and instrument control lines, damaging sensitive equipment. Similar plugging will occur in cold environments if the water freezes.

For many years, problems from moisture in air were tolerated. To prevent freezing, alcohols were injected into the lines and electric heaters were used to separate moisture and other contaminants. These solutions did not completely solve the problem. Increased use of compressed air and the development of many new and more sophisticated devices and controls have accelerated the need for clean, dry air.

A membrane air dryer is a cost efficient and effective way to protect sensitive equipment from contaminants in plant compressed air.


How a membrane air dryer works

Parker membrane air dryers, for example, use specially formulated membrane microtubes that are selectively permeable to water vapor. The microtubes provide an excellent medium for producing dry air from standard compressed air. As the compressed air travels along the length of the membrane, water vapor diffuses through the membrane, producing clean, dry compressed air at the outlet. A small fraction of the dry air is then directed along the outside surface of the membrane to sweep the moisture-laden air away from the membrane. Figure 1 below shows how the technology works.

Figure 1 - How membrane technology works

Why Use Clean, Dry Compressed Air - Parker Hannifin















Features and benefits

  • Membrane dryers reduce the dew point of compressed air to as low as -40°F/°C.
  • Designed with no moving parts and no requirement for electrical supply.
  • Operate with very little noise output - just a small amount of purge air is emitted through small exhaust ports.
  • Require minimal maintenance and are inherently explosion proof.
  • Ideal for remote areas, explosive environments, sub-freezing environments, and applications requiring a consistent dew point.

To learn about our range of membrane air dryers and capabilities, please download the product literature.


Why Use Clean, Dry Compressed Air?To learn how to safely dry compressed air in hazardous atmospheres, download the white paper.





This post was contributed by the Gas Generation Technology Team - Parker Industrial Gas Filtration and Generation Division.



Related content:

Facts You Need to Know About Drying Compressed Air

Best Way to Dry Compressed Air in Hazardous Areas

Choosing the Right Compressed Air Dryer for Your Application


Have a question about Parker products or services? We can help: Contact Us!

Comments for Why Use Clean, Dry Compressed Air?

Drew Harrison
I have actually never seen a membrane dryer before. The inner workings look pretty complicated and not like something I could fix on my own. If I ever have one and it breaks, I would probably call a specialized repairman. Thanks for informing me about these!
Judy, Compressed Air & Gas Treatment Technology Bl
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog. The inner workings of a membrane air dryer are fairly simple, however, they are not field repairable. The membrane dryer is similar to a shell and tube heat exchanger, but instead of transferring heat, it transfers mass (water vapor). It consists of a bundle of hollow fibers potted on each end so that moisture laden compressed air enters the annular space of the fiber. A small amount of low pressure dry air at the outlet is directed to flow counter current over the outside or shell side of the hollow fibers. This dry air pulls moisture through the wall of the fiber (much like heat is removed from a warm gas stream). The system is simple in that it requires no electricity and has no moving parts. Let us know if you have further questions.

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