Compressed air can be damaging to applications that require moisture-free air. Atmospheric air that enters an air compressor intake contains water vapor.
While in the air compressor, heat from compression and pressurization forces water vapor to condense into liquid droplets.
These droplets travel downstream and can ruin your products, air tools, cylinders, and air motors.
Refrigerated air dryers take the moisture-laden air from the air compressor discharge and lower the temperature condensing the water vapor to water and separating it from the air before it goes downstream damaging product and equipment.
How Does a Refrigerated Air Dryer Work?
Compressed air enters the air dryer at a temperature of around 100F. The air enters an air to air heat exchanger.
In this heat exchanger, the incoming air is pre-cooled by the outgoing cold air. The air then enters a refrigerant to air heat exchanger which cools the air to around 35F.
At this lower temperature, the moisture in the air is condensed and separated out of the air and is expelled from the unit.
Lastly, the air travels through the previously mentioned air to air heat exchanger allowing the incoming warm air to reheat the colder air leaving the air dryer.
The compressed air leaving the dryer has a pressure dew point between 35°F to 50°F.
2 Types of Refrigerated Air Dryers
Non-cycling refrigerated dryers
Non-cycling refrigerated air dryers operate with the refrigeration compressor running continuously, regardless of the inlet load.
Minimal energy savings is realized from 100% down to 0% inlet air load.
Cycling refrigerated air dryers automatically cycle the refrigeration compressor on and off in response to inlet load conditions as the inlet air load is reduced the refrigeration compressor cycles off, providing energy savings.
This is done through some type of thermal mass that holds the temperature once the air compressor cycles off.
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