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Understanding Water Condensation in Compressed Air Systems.

2 Minutes Read

With the colder weather and the last few weeks of rain in the UK it seemed right time to remind everyone about the issues that water condensing in compressed air system can cause. Some may view condensate as a minor inconvenience, but it holds significant implications for the efficiency and longevity of the entire setup influencing both running and servicing costs.

The Issues It Can Cause

This problem occurs when compressed air cools down after the compressor or the dryer in the compressed air ring main which leads to the formation of condensate (water!). It is often a problem never seen through spring, summer, and autumn because the ambient atmospheric temperature stays high enough to prevent condensation occurring. However, not addressing this water buildup promptly in winter will result in severe and costly damages.

The repercussions of neglecting this issue are far-reaching. Pipework starts corroding, pneumatic valves and cylinders wear out prematurely, and the tools within the system suffer. Moreover, the overall performance capability of the compressed air system takes a hit, leading to compromised process safety and increased operational costs. If for example your compressed air is sterile filtered, then water hitting the filters can cause collapse or severely reduce flow while significantly increasing running costs due to far higher differential pressures incurred over filter systems.

The Solutions

There are a number of solutions that can be deployed to solve the problems:

  1. Install water separators. These economically extract condensate from the compressed air.
  2. When sterile gas filters are installed then place a coalescing filter, as a prefilter, before the sterile filter. Not only will this remove any remaining condensate, but also remove any particulate contamination caused by corrosion.
  3. When making any connection into the compressed air ring main make the connection on the top of the pipework. As water is heavier than air it will sit in the bottom of the pipe and therefore will remain there rather than drain into the connection.
  4. Finally, if possible, install pipework with a slight increasing gradient as it moves away from the compressor. Again, it helps any condensate drain back towards the compressor rather than to the point of use.

Understanding how to manage condensate is crucial for supporting the health and efficiency of a compressed air system. Investing in the measures above can save businesses from costly damages and ensure the smooth operation of their compressed air technology.

Remember, addressing water condensation is not just about maintenance—it is about ensuring the reliability and cost-effectiveness of your operations in the long run. Contact PorefilterUK Ltd at [email protected] about any compressed air or gas application. Or you can visit our website to view the compressed air and gas solutions we offer.


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David Keay