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The food industry has strict regulations and laws in place to protect the consumer; these cover processing plants at all stages of food production: preparation, processing, manufacturing and packaging. Air compressors are a critical piece of equipment often found in of all these processes. They are also often missed in the hazard analysis as a critical control point because compressors are sometimes viewed as a utility. We take a look at the simple steps in air compressor design that ensure safe operation for the food manufacturing industry, including the use of air compressor filters and how, exactly, they contribute to safety.
An air compressor pulls in air from the surrounding atmosphere, which means that the compressed air is potentially full of aerosols, oil vapours (in oil-injected pistons and screw compressors) and particulates that can contaminate the compressed air and potentially cause damage to powered equipment and even harm to direct users. Incorporating the correct inline filter can help to eliminate the unwanted contaminants. However, as well as damage to equipment, if contaminated compressed air comes into contact with production equipment, ingredients, packaging or products, the sterile environment is compromised and there is the potential for the presence of micro-organisms, among other things. The presence of contaminants in food manufacture can lead to health issues for the consumer, reduced product quality or shelf life and the potential for significant damage to the company.
Particulates are small pieces of solid material such as dirt, dust and pollen, as well as metal particles that can be caused by pipe corrosion. These are removed with a dry particulate air compressor filter. These have 2 main functions: interception and diffusion.
Interception – Particles that are small enough to follow the airstream will get caught by a correctly sized filter media. This is more effective on larger particles.
Diffusion – Diffusion occurs when small particles move erratically throughout the intake and filter. This irregular movement caused by the particles colliding is called Brownian motion. Particles moving freely in a system are more likely to interact with the filter media and will thereby be removed from the compressed air stream. Through diffusion, separation of smaller particles is easier than separating larger ones
An aerosol (abbreviation of “aero-solution”) is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in air. Smoke is an aerosol. These are removed with a coalescing air compressor filter. The coalescing process consists of bringing small droplets of liquid together in order to form large droplets. As the droplets increase in size, they fall from the filter into a moisture trap.
Vapour refers to a gas phase at a temperature where the same substance can also exist in the liquid or solid state. Clouds and water are an example of this. These vapours are removed with an adsorbtion filter. Adsorption is a chemical process which causes vapours to bond with the surface of the filter. Commonly, these use activated charcoal filters due to the high surface area and attraction of coal to the oil vapour. It is usual to use a dust air compressor filter after an adsorbtion air compressor filter to ensure no filter particles could contaminate airstream.
Having the right air compressor filters in place in your air compressor system is critical for food processing plants. However, it is also vital that the air compressor selected for use is the most appropriate for the application and is cost-effective for the business. Glaston offers a full air compressor design and installation service to ensure that the needs of your particular processing plant are fully met, along with any hygiene standards; our team have a wealth of experience in air compressor design and installation for the food industry and will give you peace of mind that your air compressor filters are appropriate and that the equipment will suit your requirements. Additionally, Glaston offers a full air compressor maintenance service. Not only does this ensure the longevity of the equipment and efficient functioning, but one of the key areas covered by the air compressor maintenance is the assurance that the air compressor filters are clean and functioning to meet food hygiene standards. If you would like to talk to us about our air compressor design or maintenance service, call Glaston today on 01695 510010 or email email@example.com.