Deliquescence refers to the unique ability of certain substances to absorb moisture and dissolve into a liquid. This property has been harnessed across various industries, from dairy farming to the oil and gas sector. Thus, while the term "deliquescent" might not be a staple in daily conversations (and is a mouthful to say!), its relevance is undeniable.
Deliquescent substances are often used in industrial processes because they are able to absorb and hold a large amount of moisture. This makes them ideal for applications where it is important to keep materials dry, such as in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Deliquescence can also be used to create a desiccant, which is a substance that absorbs moisture from the air. Desiccants are often used in packaging to keep products dry and prevent them from spoiling. (You might know them as those little packets that say “DO NOT EAT” in many consumer products.)
Read More: Dryer Desiccants
Desiccants are used in a variety of applications, including food preservation, electronics manufacturing, and even spacecraft. Deliquescence is also used in the production of some types of concrete. (When certain salts are added to concrete, they can cause the concrete to absorb water from the air, which helps to make the concrete stronger.)
Here are a few specific use cases.
Dairy farming has embraced technological advancements, like robotic milking systems. Why? Because these systems, while efficient, are sensitive to environmental moisture, and in fact, the solenoids, a core component, are particularly moisture-sensitive.
Deliquescent materials are used to absorb excess moisture, ensuring that the compressed air in these systems remains dry. This is vital for preventing issues like valve freezing and preventing them from opening and closing properly. (This can lead to problems with milk flow let alone damage the valves.) Moisture can also contaminate the milk, leading to problems with quality and safety.
By absorbing excess moisture, deliquescent materials can help to prevent these problems and keep robotic milking systems running smoothly.
Deliquescence is also important in the oil and gas industry, which often deals with untreated natural gas, especially in remote areas. This gas can contain impurities, with water vapor being a significant concern. Deliquescence ensures that this gas is conditioned, removing excess moisture.
This is crucial for maintaining the efficiency of the gas for various applications.
For example, if the gas is used to power a generator, the water vapor can cause corrosion and other problems. Deliquescence can also help to remove other impurities from the gas, such as hydrogen sulfide. This can improve the quality of the gas and make it safer to use.
Deliquescence is also finding new applications in emerging industries, such as renewable energy and advanced manufacturing.
In renewable energy, ensuring moisture-free environments is crucial for the efficiency of certain processes. For example, in solar panel manufacturing, even a small amount of moisture can reduce the efficiency of the panels.
In advanced manufacturing, precision is essential for many processes. For example, in semiconductor manufacturing, again, just a small amount of moisture can damage the chips. Deliquescence can be used to control moisture levels in these environments, which can help to improve the precision of advanced manufacturing processes.
From all of this, deliquescence is a versatile phenomenon that has a wide range of potential applications. As new industries emerge, deliquescence is likely to find even more uses. Its ability to control moisture levels is invaluable, ensuring operational efficiency and reliability. As industries evolve, the significance of deliquescence is set to grow, making it a key area of focus for research and application.
Companies like Van Air Systems have developed solutions based on deliquescence for specific industrial needs. Our range of products ensures moisture-free air and gas, vital for smooth machinery operation. Such innovations underscore the growing importance of deliquescence in modern industry.
In fact, Van Air is the only manufacturer of Deliquescent Desiccant (Dry-O-Lite, 10BF, and Special Purpose "SP"); having formulated the desiccant specifically for Deliquescent Dryers and Natural Gas Deliquescent Dryers. With over 65 years of experience, Van Air is the original and leading manufacturer of deliquescent desiccants for drying compressed air and gasses.