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Air is too Dry?

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  • Air is too Dry?

    I have heard twice in the last month from customers that they have to lubricate their pneumatic components because "their air is too dry". When I have pressed them, I have found that they are using desiccant dryers, and believe their dewpoint to be around -20F. On one occasion, I took a dewpoint reading myself, and found the actual dewpoint around 40F, but that's beside the point!

    The statement made is that they need to lubricate because the dry air damages the seals and dries out the grease.
    I can't imagine that modern grease and modern buna (or viton) seals would be much affected by a lower dewpoint?

    Has anyone run across anything that would indicate that there is any truth to the assertion that a dewpoint lower than 0 Degrees F would require lubrication for longer life?

  • #2
    I have not seen any definitive study on the subject, seems far fetched to me too. But if true it would be another reason not to use desiccant dryer which are expensive to operate because the most common uncontrolled heatless units use 15 to 20 percent of their nameplate rating just to operate. This robs the system of much of its capacity, often for no practical reason, and drives up operating costs.

    Recently, I have heard of a problem in a system using steel pipes that may affect pneumatic components. The discharge of the air compressor is most often 100 percent saturated. This means the steel pipes are wet internally and of course rust forms. On very cold days, where the intake air to the compressor is very dry, the discharge is not 100 percent saturated and the pipes dry out, but when this happens the rust becomes powder and is propelled downstream. This clogs filters and allows rust into pneumatic components if not removed.