Protect Sensitive Equipment from Heat using Compressed Air

April 29, 2022


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In any workplace environment, it is crucial to avoid equipment damage when temperatures are higher than normal. Wherever enclosures are needed to keep out dust and moisture, you may also run the risk of exposing sensitive equipment to unwanted external heat. A sealed workstation enclosure can prevent the ingress of contaminants and moisture, and a cabinet cooler powered by compressed air can keep electronic and mechanical components cool. Moreover, you can eliminate the dusty, humid air that is generated by cooling fans, and when you install an enclosure chiller that runs on compressed air, there is no electrical connection and no moving parts.

It's never a prudent decision to take chances on expensive downtime due to poorly functioning or failed equipment. Compressed-air enclosure coolers have a small footprint that allows the protected equipment to be used in even the tightest spaces. Plus, vortex cooling tubes are highly reliable, and due to the lack of moving parts, are virtually maintenance free. Unless your plant or facility is unusually dusty or contains high levels of hazardous particulates, the vortex cooler enclosure will not need an air filter. Filters can actually decrease the flow of clean, cool compressed air. If you need to fully protect your equipment, ask us about a custom design for a NEMA 4, NEMA 12 or NEMA 4X enclosure manufactured from durable ABS thermoplastic sheet and equipped to protect against all hazards, including excessive ambient temperatures.

How Compressed Air Controls Temperature

Vortex tubes, also known as the Ranque-Hilsch tube, use compressed air to offer a low cost, maintenance-free option for protecting your investments. Fact is sensitive equipment has always been vulnerable to excessive heat from harsh conditions. Here’s how compressed air and some basic physics works using fluid mechanics and thermodynamics:

*Bernoulli principle – This is the concept that an increase in a liquid's speed (like air) creates a pressure drop. Just as, a decrease in speed causes pressure to rise. So, if we insert compressed air into a vortex tube…

*Venturi effect - An hourglass-shaped constriction will vary the flow characteristics of the air. As the velocity of air moving through the tube continues to increase, there is a drop in dynamic pressure.

*Vortex tube - Since velocity is present, the air flow is rotational and a vortex spiral forms. This causes the center of the tube to draw the outside air inward, while the fluid elements in the rotating body of air retain their angular velocity.

*Thermal dynamics - Because it is more dense, cold air sinks while the hot air rises. That means the warmer air moves toward the outer metal casing of the tube in an opposing direction and is easily exhausted.

A steady flow of clean dry air is then allowed to constantly move through the sealed enclosure to keep sensitive equipment cool even under harsh industrial conditions. To learn more about an economical solution for cooling or heating an equipment enclosure, contact Dust Free PC to discuss your best options.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Vortex Tube Coolers

Although vortex tube coolers are not a universal answer for all situations, they do offer distinct advantages in initial cost and very little time or money is required for routine maintenance. For most installs, vortex tube coolers only require a supply of clean, dry compressed air to generate the chill to cool the internals without using refrigerants or fans. Since vortex coolers take up less room, a sealed equipment enclosure using compressed air may be an ideal choice where space is limited. Moreover, experts say compressed air coolers are more energy efficient with lower electric bills, and there is no risk of spark or explosion. However, there are disadvantages to using tube coolers.

In generating chilled air, vortex tube coolers can be pretty noisy, so they may not be the best choice for all environments. Additionally, any enclosure cooler must be properly sized for the electronic heat load to ensure system efficiency. Monitoring a thermostat to manage air flow is sometimes necessary to avoid wasting compressed air. On the other hand, vortex tube coolers create a positive pressure inside the sealed cabinet that will prevent dust from entering and settling on heat sinks, which can disallow the proper transfer of heat away from sensitive components. Using a NEMA-4 sealed enclosure with a vortex tube cooler also eliminates condensation while preventing the intrusion of water during periodic washdowns.

Ask about Dust Free PC’s Enclosure Audit

When it comes to keeping your sensitive electronic equipment cool, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Fans, air conditioners, and air filters definitely have their place and are commonly used for many industrial, manfacturing, medical, retail and warehouse applications. Nonetheless, with a small amount of planning, you may be able to keep your plant production operating at the level needed to meet your company’s goals; but the time to start the solutions process is right now. If protecting sensitive equipment is essential to maintaining work schedules, vortex tube cooling may be the answer. More often than not, overheated electronics prove to be a disruption to workflow during the hotter months but it is something that is easy to avoid year round. A sealed enclosure that is properly sized and a vortex tube chilling system (including thermostat controls) will allow you to optimize compressed air. At Dust Free PC, we offer an Enclosure Audit to ensure you have the right strategy to prevent equipment failure during the hot, humid conditions that summer so often brings.

Our ABS-constructed enclosures and variety of cooling options can effectively dissipate heat from your electronics and other sensitive equipment that operate in industrial, commercial, and manufacturing environments. To learn more about any custom ABS enclosure and all of our heating and cooling options, contact Dust Free PC using this website’s convenient contact form or dial 800-775-7611 to speak directly with the pros.

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