What Are the Types of Compressed Air Dryers?

Compressor and Dryer in Room

Compressed air is used to power many industrial applications and is considered an essential part of many companies’ production procedures. This is why generating pure, clean air is of utmost importance. With most facilities aiming to run at peak performance, all systems, including compressed air systems, must be running efficiently. In many cases, this means controlling water vapor introduced into your compressed air system.

The air that is drawn into a compressed air system generally will contain water vapor. Other factors, such as operating your air compressor in humid environments, can also increase the amount of water vapor introduced into your system. While water generally poses no harm to us, even a small amount of water vapor can create a problem for compressed air equipment. If water vapor is not removed from process air, unideal side effects may occur ranging from frozen pipes to compromised products resulting from malfunctioning equipment.

This is where compressed air dryers come in. Dryers are charged with the task of removing water vapor from compressed air and reducing the dew point. There are a variety of air dryers on the market. Let’s explore the different types of compressed air dryers and the many ways they are used by businesses similar to yours. 

Desiccant Dryer

Desiccant dryers use a desiccant material to remove water vapor from ambient air. Put simply, the desiccant adsorbs water vapor from the air stream as it travels between two towers. The main benefit of a desiccant dryer is that these dryers can produce much lower dew points than other types of compressed air dryers.

Desiccant dryers come in two different varieties—heatless and heated. It is important to note that desiccant dryers may carry a higher equipment cost and heated versions in particular may increase energy costs. Desiccant dryers are often used when the compressed air system is housed in fairly cold environments. These dryers are also commonly used within the healthcare industry as pure, dry air is important for patient treatments.

Refrigerated Dryer

Refrigerated dryers are commonly used in industrial settings such as manufacturing. Refrigerated dryers work by chilling compressed air to dew points around 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Condensate is removed through a drain.

There are two main subdivisions of refrigerated dryers—cycling and non-cycling. While cycling dryers can provide you with more energy efficiency, non-cycling dryers provide benefits such as maintaining consistent dew points.

Chemical Dryer (also known as Deliquescent Dryer)

Chemical dryers use deliquescent chemicals (such as sodium) to remove water vapor from compressed air. As compressed air passes over these chemicals, the water vapor is absorbed.

As these dryers do not use electricity, they may save you on energy costs. However, it is useful to remember that deliquescent chemicals must be replaced once they are entirely saturated and complimentary filtration systems will be necessary. Chemical dryers are frequently used by contractors and other applications where lowering the dew point isn’t as necessary. (Deliquescent dryers can only achieve dew points as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit).

Membrane Dryer

Membrane dryers utilize permeable membrane technology. Compressed air travels through the membrane removing vapor and producing dry air.

Membrane dryers are often used in hazardous environments. While membrane dryers are easy to install and require no electricity, they do have limitations and are not suitable for all applications.

Choosing the Right Compressed Air Dryer

There are a few factors that go into choosing the right compressed air dryer for your compressed air system. One of the major factors is the type of air compressor being used by your application. Another factor is the specific environment where your compressed air system is housed. A humid environment will carry different requirements than a less humid one. One of the most important factors that will influence your choice is the particular application the dryer will be used for. In a healthcare application for example, air must be as pure as possible due to the nature of patient care.

Determining the right compressed air dryer for your needs may be the difference between costly repairs or a smoothly functioning operation. Be sure to consider all factors involved before making a decision.

Contact Us for Your Compressed Air System Needs

Identifying the right compressed air dryer for your needs can prevent unwanted side effects such as equipment malfunction and piping corrosion. If you find that water vapor is beginning to cause problems within your compressed air system, it is best to act quickly and contact a compressed air specialist that can locate the right dryer for you and install it quickly.

Our compressed air specialists are ready to help you design the right compressed air system for your needs and aid in your compressed air dryer installation. Contact a specialist today for more information. To learn more about compressed air systems and dryers, visit our Compressed Air Resource Library