Do You Need an Oil-Free Air Compressor

In case your processes require ultraclean compressed air, you could assume that you just want an oil-free air compressor. However typically, clear air necessities may be met with out the expense and upkeep problem of an oil-free compressor. Earlier than you spend the cash, check out the professionals and cons of oiled vs. oil-free compressors and see which one is best for you.

What’s an Oil-Free Air Compressor?

Rotary screw air compressors are available two primary varieties: oil-injected (or oil-flooded) and oil-free. Because the identify implies, an oil-free air compressor doesn’t use oil for lubrication within the compression chamber. As an alternative, they depend on rotors with very tight mechanical tolerances to scale back friction. Air or water is used for cooling as a substitute of oil.

  • An oil-free (or oil-less) rotary screw air compressor sometimes makes use of a 2-stage compression course of with an intercooler between the 2 compression chambers. This enables the air to chill down between compression levels and prevents overheating of the compressor.
  • Piston (or reciprocating) air compressors additionally are available oil-free variations. An oil-free piston-style air compressor will use a coating (equivalent to Teflon) on the cylinders to scale back friction.

You will need to do not forget that “oil-free” refers solely to the compression chamber itself. Lubricants should be wanted for bearings and different transferring components outdoors the compression chamber.

Professionals and Cons of Oil-Free Air Compressors

Oil-free air compressors have been invented to unravel the issue of oil carryover, or leftover oil residue within the compressed air stream. Their main benefit is cleaner, drier air. Nonetheless, this benefit is probably not as massive as you assume—and oil-free air compressors can include some fairly massive drawbacks.

Since there is no such thing as a oil used inside the compression chamber, you could assume that compressed air could be fully oil-free. Not so quick! Whereas it’s true that oil carryover from compression processes shall be zero, any oil introduced in by way of the air consumption (equivalent to vaporized metalworking fluids, lubricants utilized in manufacturing processes, or hydrocarbon residues from operating motors within the neighborhood) will nonetheless find yourself within the compressed air provide. Except the consumption air is pristine, filters will nonetheless be wanted to take away oil residue from the air.

What are the opposite drawbacks of an oil-free air compressor?

  • Capital prices. Price is the largest draw back. Oil-free air compressors may be as a lot as double the associated fee upfront in comparison with an oil-lubricated air compressor with the same CFM score.
  • Upkeep prices. Oil-free air compressors even have greater upkeep prices—particularly rotary screw oil-free air compressors. Whereas you might have fewer filters to vary, the compression screws within the air-end are more likely to fail than these in a lubricated air compressor. When this occurs, repairs may be very pricey. And bear in mind, the oil-free rotary screw air compressor has two levels of compression as a substitute of only one, probably doubling your restore prices.
  • Service life. An oil-free air compressor can have a shorter life general than a lubricated rotary screw air compressor. Whereas the air-end for an oil-flooded rotary screw air compressor can simply final 150,000 hours or extra, the everyday lifespan for the air-end for an oil-free air compressor is nearer to 50,000 hours.

When Do You Want an Oil-Free Air Compressor?

Oil-free air compressors are sometimes present in industries requiring ultraclean compressed air, equivalent to meals processing and packaging, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturing, electronics, and medical or laboratory functions. Firms needing to scale back contaminants in compressed air to an absolute minimal have historically relied on oil-free air compressors. Nonetheless, high-efficiency compressed air filtration can now produce air of comparable high quality utilizing an oil-flooded air compressor.

Oil-flooded air compressors with correct inline filtration are a dependable various to oil-free air compressors for practically all functions requiring ultraclean, oil-free air. Inline air filters and oil separators can scale back oil carryover in compressed air to virtually zero.

Decreasing Oil Carryover in an Oil-Flooded Air Compressor

Should you require ultraclean compressed air in your processes, you will need to scale back oil carryover as a lot as attainable. Right here’s what you are able to do.

Use Consumption Filters to Scale back Contaminants Coming into the Compressor

The consumption filter is your first line of protection in opposition to contaminants in your compressed air provide. The consumption filter will take away giant particulates and a few oil mists from atmospheric air getting into the air compressor.

Use Inline Filtration to Take away Oil and Particulates from Compressed Air

The inline filters do many of the work in decreasing oil carryover from an oil-flooded air compressor.

  • A high-efficiency coalescing inline filter removes particulates all the way down to 0.01 microns and has a most oil carryover of 0.008 PPM.
  • Activated carbon inline filters take away hydrocarbon mists, vapors, and odor with a most oil carryover of 0.002 PPM.

With these filtration efficiencies, there may be little or no significant distinction in compressed air high quality between an oil-free and oil-flooded air compressor. In actual fact, inline filtration for an oil-flooded air compressor could also be extra environment friendly than a filter used with an oil-free compressor, as a result of the filters work greatest once they have some oil in them.

Change inline filters not less than every year or after 8,000 hours of operation.

Learn extra: Everything You Should Know About Inline Filtration

Use an Oil/Water Separator

The oil/water separator is used to separate lubricants from condensate generated by the air compressor. The oil/water separator removes extra oil from the compressed air condensate and permits for correct disposal of liquid wastes based on EPA tips. The oil/water separator have to be correctly maintained, and filter cartridges needs to be modified not less than yearly.

How is Oil Faraway from Inside an Oil Flooded Compressor?

Inner to the compressor is an air/oil separator, this gadget removes oil from the compressed air discharge in order that the air has lower than 3 PPM of oil in it, the inline filtration takes care of the remaining. At one time years in the past the separator was a standard failure level for lubricated air compressors. Nonetheless, with trendy designs, that’s hardly ever a problem anymore. An air receiver tank may be added after the compressor to behave as a failsafe to stop oil from reaching the compressed air filtration and air distribution system within the unlikely occasion of a failure.

Learn Extra: Oil/Water Separators for Compressed Air Systems: Complete Guidelines

Check Your Air Provide Month-to-month

If ultraclean air is a necessity, be sure to take a look at your compressed air provide not less than month-to-month to ensure oil carryover isn’t rising. Should you begin to see an uptick in oil carryover (measured in PPM), examine your inline filtration. It could be time to exchange the filters.

Can You Get Oil-Free Air from an Oil-Flooded Air Compressor?

Can an oil-flooded air compressor be used for functions requiring ultraclean compressed air? Generally, the reply is sure. Fluid-Aire Dynamics can assist you transition from oil-free to oil-lubricated air compressors with high-efficiency filtration. We helped one producer make the swap practically 30 years in the past—and their air has handed each air high quality take a look at since.

Wish to know which type of air compressor is best for you? Speak to a compressed air skilled at Fluid-Aire Dynamics. Name or contact us on-line. 

Chicago (847) 678-8388 – Minneapolis (612) 246-3432 – Milwaukee (414) 273-1994

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