Desiccant or refrigerant?

We spend a lot of time with clients helping them improve the purity of their compressed air by removing contaminants, and one of the ways we do that is with dryers. We’ve spoken on numerous occasions about the differences between refrigerant dryers and desiccant dryers. For most industrial applications refrigerant dryers will be a viable choice, but that’s not always the case.

Refrigerant dryers work by cooling the water vapour within a compressed air system to below 3°C so that it reaches dew point at the dryer. There, as the vapour condenses into water, it can easily be drained from the system.

But what happens if parts of your system are already cold enough for the vapour to turn to dew? Here, a refrigerant dryer can be ineffective, because there may be water condensing and collecting throughout the system, not just at the dryer.

That’s a problem because not all of that water will work its way to the dryer. Some of it may return to the compressor where it can increase wear and reduce efficiency. And some of it will head to the other end of the system and (potentially) contaminate the product being manufactured.

Worse still, if yours is the sort of factory or workshop where winter temperatures might dip below freezing, the water within the compressed air system can freeze too. That can cause damage throughout your compressed air system, from the compressor itself, to pipes and filters.

So a refrigerant dryer may not always be the ideal option. In such situations, desiccant dryers, which remove moisture using absorbent materials and which are generally unaffected by ambient temperature, should be selected instead.

Need help in choosing the right dryer for your compressed air system? Talk to Algar Air, the compressed air specialists, on 0114 243 2347.

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