Do I Need a Desiccant or Refrigerated Air Dryer?

Desiccant and Refrigerated Air Dryer

Air dryers are essential for the majority of compressed air applications. By nature, air compressors produce a lot of water. The atmosphere of air is compressed and the air gets very hot.  When the air temperature decreases, the moisture that was in those atmospheres turns from a gas to a liquid. While some of the water can be drained, the moisture can stay in your system and not form until the temperature continues to fall. This is where air dryers come in. They work to keep your compressed air system free of moisture and prevent condensate and rust problems from arising. There are two different types of air dryers, desiccant and refrigerated. Both are great for what they do, but which air dryer should you choose? Continue reading for all the details. 

What is Desiccant

When you open a new box of shoes or electronics, there’s that small mesh packet that reads “Desiccant, Do Not Eat.” Inside those packets are hygroscopic beads (typically silica or activated alumina) that attract moisture, protecting the merchandise during shipment and storage. Desiccant doesn’t just keep moisture from merchandise, it can also remove moisture from a compressed air stream. 

How Desiccant Air Dryers Work

Desiccant air dryers remove water vapor down to a -40 to -100 degree dew point. Instead of refrigerating the compressed air, desiccants absorb the moisture. Desiccant air dryers are made up of two towers, both holding the desiccant beads. The system alternates between the two towers. This allows for one tower to dry the compressed air while the other is regenerating the desiccant material. These dryers can ultimately consume between 5 – 18% of your compressor air supply. 

What is a Refrigerated Air Dryer?

Refrigerant dryers cool the compressed air. This allows the water that’s trapped in the compressed air to condense and be separated from the air. This is a crucial air system component for applications that require compressed air-dried to a low dew point, such as in manufacturing or paint and body industries. 

How Refrigerated Air Dryers Work

A refrigerated air dryer chills compressed air to 36 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the water vapor to condense into a liquid and is let out of the system by a water trap and automatic drain. The cool, dry air is then reheated to around room temperature before exiting the dryer and flowing into your production line. All of this helps reduce condensation on the compressed air piping. 

Need more help? 

We know that was a lot of jargon all at once. If you’re still not sure which air dryer is right for your air compressors, give 3C Industrial a call today – 361-452-2749. We’re always ready to help!