We receive daily inquiries about different options for airline dehydration systems. Whether the goal is to prevent freeze-ups in instrument tooling, maintain a specific dew point, or find a more eco-friendly solution, we've outlined the most popular dryer types below.

1. Deliquescent Desiccant Dryer

A deliquescent desiccant dryer uses a moisture-absorbing desiccant that dissolves as it works. Air passes over the desiccant bed, which absorbs moisture and dissolves into a sump area at the bottom, making it easy to drain.

Desiccant needs to be replaced about every 30 days. These dryers have no emissions or moving parts, offering a low-maintenance, environmentally friendly option. Here are a few popular use cases:

Instrument Air Systems

Deliquescent desiccant dryers are essential in instrument air systems, particularly in industries like oil and gas. These systems rely heavily on pneumatic instruments and controls that must operate flawlessly in harsh conditions. Moisture in the air can cause freeze-ups and failures in these sensitive instruments, leading to significant operational disruptions and safety hazards.

By maintaining dry air, deliquescent desiccant dryers ensure that instruments and controls function reliably, even in extreme temperatures. This reliability is crucial for preventing costly downtime and maintaining the safety and efficiency of industrial operations.

Paint Booths and Coating Applications

In paint booths and coating applications, the quality of the air used is directly linked to the quality of the finished product. Moisture in the air can lead to defects such as blisters, bubbles, and poor adhesion, resulting in subpar finishes that compromise the appearance and durability of the coating. Deliquescent desiccant dryers play a pivotal role in providing the dry air necessary to achieve smooth, high-quality finishes.

By absorbing moisture from the air before it reaches the painting or coating environment, these dryers help maintain optimal conditions, ensuring that each coat is applied evenly and dries correctly. This is particularly important in industries like automotive manufacturing, where the visual and protective qualities of paint and coatings are paramount.

Food and Beverage Processing

In the food and beverage processing industry, maintaining dry air is crucial for ensuring product quality and safety. Moisture in the processing and packaging environment can lead to contamination and spoilage, affecting the taste, texture, and shelf life of the products.

Deliquescent desiccant dryers help prevent these issues by removing moisture from the air, thereby creating a dry, controlled environment. This is particularly important in the packaging phase, where moisture can compromise the integrity of the packaging and introduce bacteria or mold. By using deliquescent desiccant dryers, food and beverage manufacturers can uphold stringent hygiene standards, ensuring that their products remain safe, fresh, and of the highest quality for consumers.

2. Refrigerated Air Dryer

Refrigerated dryers cool incoming air to condense water vapor into droplets, which are then separated and removed. Air enters an initial heat exchanger for cooling before moving through an air-to-refrigerant exchanger, where further cooling occurs.

Learn more about desiccant air dryers vs refrigerated

While these dryers achieve excellent dew points, they require significant energy and maintenance due to their continuous operation and multiple moving parts.

Example use cases include:

General Manufacturing

In manufacturing environments, maintaining dry compressed air is crucial to ensure the proper functioning of pneumatic tools and equipment. Moisture in the air can cause rust and corrosion, leading to equipment failure and increased maintenance costs. Refrigerated air dryers effectively remove moisture from the air, ensuring reliable operation and extending the lifespan of manufacturing equipment.

Food and Beverage Processing

In the food and beverage industry, maintaining dry air is essential to prevent contamination and spoilage. Moisture can lead to the growth of bacteria and mold, compromising the safety and quality of the products. Refrigerated air dryers create a controlled environment by removing moisture from the air, ensuring that products remain fresh and safe for consumption throughout the processing and packaging stages.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

In pharmaceutical manufacturing, it is critical to maintain strict environmental controls to ensure product stability and efficacy. Moisture in the air can negatively affect the chemical composition of pharmaceuticals, leading to compromised product quality. Refrigerated air dryers help maintain a dry, controlled environment, preventing moisture-related issues and ensuring that pharmaceutical products meet the required standards of quality and safety.

3. Membrane Air Dryer

Membrane dryers use thousands of tiny hollow fibers to separate water vapor from compressed air. Wet air enters the dryer, and the membrane fibers allow water vapor to permeate and be collected, leaving dry air to continue through the system. Collected water vapor is vented out. These dryers are easy to use, consume little power, and need minimal maintenance due to the lack of moving parts.

Medical and Dental Air Systems

In medical and dental settings, the quality of compressed air is critical. Moisture and contaminants can compromise the operation of sensitive equipment, leading to potential health risks and equipment failure. Membrane air dryers are ideal for these environments because they effectively remove moisture while requiring minimal maintenance and power. This ensures that air used in patient care and procedures is clean, dry, and safe.

Laboratories and Analytical Instruments

Laboratories often use compressed air to operate various analytical instruments, such as mass spectrometers and chromatographs. These instruments require extremely dry air to function accurately, as even small amounts of moisture can affect their performance and the accuracy of results. Membrane air dryers provide a reliable source of dry air, maintaining the precision and consistency needed in laboratory settings.

Telecommunications and Electronics Manufacturing

In the production of telecommunications and electronic devices, maintaining a dry environment is crucial to prevent moisture-related defects in sensitive components. Moisture can cause corrosion and short-circuiting in delicate electronic parts. Membrane air dryers are well-suited for these applications because they provide a consistent supply of dry air without the need for electricity or moving parts, reducing the risk of moisture damage and ensuring high-quality production standards.

These applications demonstrate the effectiveness of membrane air dryers in environments where maintaining dry air is critical for the performance, safety, and reliability of equipment and processes.

4. Regenerative Air Dryer

Regenerative air dryers, available in various configurations (purge, heated, heatless), function similarly to desiccant dryers by using desiccant material to absorb moisture. However, they continuously regenerate the desiccant, avoiding downtime and achieving very low dew points. A downside is the potential purge loss during regeneration, which can reduce airflow by up to 25%.

Chemical and Petrochemical Industries

In chemical and petrochemical industries, maintaining an extremely low dew point is crucial to prevent moisture-related issues that can affect chemical reactions and product quality. Regenerative air dryers, with their ability to achieve very low dew points, are ideal for these applications. They ensure that the air used in processing and transporting chemicals is free of moisture, thereby maintaining the integrity and efficiency of chemical reactions and protecting sensitive equipment from corrosion and other moisture-induced problems.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

The pharmaceutical industry requires exceptionally dry air for various manufacturing processes to ensure product stability and efficacy. Moisture can compromise the chemical composition of pharmaceuticals, leading to reduced effectiveness and shelf life. Regenerative air dryers provide the necessary low dew point air to maintain the strict environmental controls needed in pharmaceutical production, ensuring that products meet the required standards of quality and safety.

Power Generation

In power generation facilities, maintaining dry air is critical for the reliable operation of turbines and other equipment. Moisture in the compressed air can lead to freezing, corrosion, and mechanical failures in turbine controls and instrumentation.

Regenerative air dryers are well-suited for these applications because they can continuously regenerate the desiccant material, providing a consistent supply of ultra-dry air. This ensures the optimal performance and longevity of power generation equipment, reducing the risk of operational disruptions and costly repairs.

These applications highlight the importance of regenerative air dryers in industries where maintaining ultra-dry air is essential for operational efficiency, product quality, and the longevity of critical equipment.

So, know which one is right for you? Remember, just ask these questions:

  • How will you use the compressed air?
  • What temperatures will it be exposed to?
  • Is electricity available?
  • Is there limited space at the installation site?
  • What dew point do you need?

Answering these questions will help you determine the best dryer for your application. Still unsure? The Technical Sales department at Van Air Systems is ready to help. Call them at 1-800-840-9906 for assistance.

Desmond Merzius is new to the Van Air Systems family. He joined our team about a year ago and is the regional manager of our western territory. Desmond has multiple years of experience in equipment sales for the agriculture industry along with the rental and construction market. Desmond has quickly learned about all the aspects of our products, along with their applications and technical specs. Outside of work, Desmond enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, and fishing.

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