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Benefits of an air compressor aftercooler

Compressed Air Wiki Air Treatment Drying

All atmospheric air contains some amount of water vapor. In some environments, humidity levels can get quite high. However, to keep your compressed air equipment running optimally, it's important to maintain a dry environment. That’s because when air is compressed, the moisture in it becomes more concentrated. One way to combat this moisture content is with an air compressor aftercooler. In this article, we explain how this equipment works.

What is an air compressor aftercooler?

the aftercooler makes sure the air cools down after being compressed

An aftercooler cools hot compressed air while removing condensation. This prevents moisture from building up in the compressor's pipe system. An air compressor aftercooler is either water or air-cooled, and generally comes with a water separator and automatic drainage. To work effectively, it's important to hook up an aftercooler close to the air compressor. Many compressors come with a built-in aftercooler. When installed properly, an aftercooler collects most condensation generated from an air compressor. Usually, the temperature of compressed air after passing through an aftercooler is approximately 10C above the coolant temperature.

When to add an aftercooler

Many air compressors come with an integrated aftercooler. With this built in equipment, up to 70% of humidity is converted into water before it's drained. Depending on your application, you may need to add additional aftercoolers.

Aftercoolers are generally efficient, and ensure no loss of air pressure when connected to your compressor. In addition, they usually don't add demand or extra energy costs.

If you're working in a high heat environment, you'll likely need extra cooling. In situations such as this, it's recommended to add dryers to your downstream setup. However, with an aftercooler, you can get a smaller-sized dryer.

Water-cooled vs air-cooled

When aftercoolers are water-cooled, cooling water and air flow are pumped in opposite directions to maintain a dry environment.

With air-cooled aftercoolers, an electric fan pushes cool air between fins to push out the water vapor. This process uses low energy.

Both these types come with a drain to ensure moisture gets properly removed. Newer models built with the latest efficiency standards in mind aim to keep your operational costs low.

Also, most manufacturers build aftercoolers with durable materials like stainless steel. These elements ensure a long lifetime of use, and make for easy cleaning and maintenance. 

Deciding which model is right for you

Like with any air compressor equipment, the aftercooler you need depends on how much air pressure is generated/needed. Generally, air-cooled models are good for applications with low air flow, while water-cooled models support higher capacities.

If you're uncertain on what makes the most sense for your current installation, feel free to get in touch with our team. We're happy to help find the right solution for you.

This e-book on compressed air dryers will tell you all about moisture and the important role of dryers in air treatment. 

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