A tour of any modern manufacturing facility will uncover the extensive use of compressed air.
Production managers and quality managers may not be aware of the potential hazards associated with this common utility. Untreated, compressed air entering a wet air receiver and distribution system contains many contaminants, and one of the most problematic is water. Water not only causes corrosion, but it also promotes the growth of harmful micro-organisms.
Whether compressed air comes into direct contact with a product, or is used to automate a process, provide motive power, package products, a clean, dry and reliable source of compressed air is essential to maintain a safe, efficient, and cost-effective production process.
This blog examines sources of microbial contamination, factors that contribute to microbial growth, risks associated with untreated compressed air, and the most effective methods of control.
To learn more about the risks of micro-organism contamination in a compressed air system, testing methods, examples of microbial growth, technology recommendations, and best practices for cost-effective system design, download the white paper.
Ambient air is the air we breathe and it’s all around us. It’s also the air that is drawn in by air compressors. One cubic meter of ambient air typically contains between 140 and 150 million dirt particles — and anywhere up to 100 million of these could be micro-organisms. Eighty percent of these particles are smaller than 2 micron in size and not visible to the human eye. The images below show examples of the types of micro-organisms and their sizes found in ambient air.
Large volumes of ambient air are drawn into the compressor intake as the compressor is running. Particles the size of micro-organisms are too small to be captured by panel and intake filters, so they travel freely into the compressed air system.
When the air is compressed, it is "squeezed" down into a smaller volume. Since the compression process raises the temperature of the air, the air needs to be cooled before use. This process condenses water vapor into water aerosols and droplets, fully saturating the compressed air. As the wet compressed air enters the storage and distribution system, it provides the ideal environment for microbial growth.
Dangers of microbial contamination
If compressed air directly or indirectly contacts products, packaging materials, instrumentation, or production machinery, contamination is likely. Microbial contamination from compressed air can:
Untreated compressed air exhausted from pneumatic tools, valves, cylinders or machinery can also contain micro-organisms. If this exhausted air is inhaled by employees working nearby, it can lead to workforce illness. Workers should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling compressed air condensate as it can also contain micro-organisms. Caution should be taken as condensate discharges. The condensate (containing micro-organisms) can be easily be inhaled, especially when timed solenoid drains or manual drains are used because these can aerosolise.
ISO 8573-7 is the international standard used to test compressed air for micro-organisms. It is used in conjunction with ISO 8573-4 (solid particulate).
First, the air is tested in accordance with ISO 8573-4 for solid particles. Next, samples are taken using a slit sampler to distinguish between a particle and a micro-organism. The slit sampler passes compressed air over an agar plate. The plate is then taken to a laboratory, incubated, and checked for growth. This test determines if the air is sterile or non-sterile and if required, provides a count of colony-forming units (CFUs).
Partial flow test equipment required
Best practices to control and microbial growth in compressed air
To control microbial growth, a combination of very dry compressed air and high-efficiency filtration should be used.
First, all traces of liquid water and water aerosols must be eliminated from the compressed air.
Next, the dewpoint of the compressed air must be reduced to a level known to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms. A dewpoint of <-26°C inhibits growth but is not available from dryer manufacturers who use the 3 dewpoints from ISO 8573-1 to classify dryer outlet dewpoint; therefore ≤ -40°C is used. The lower the pressure dewpoint, the more effective the control. Achieving the right dewpoint will stop the growth but micro-organisms can still survive and flourish again if exposed to moisture.
Combining the optimal dewpoint with high-efficiency dry particulate filters (particulate reduction down to 0.01 micron at 99.9999% efficiency) located at the point of use will significantly reduce microbial concentrations down to acceptable levels.
If sterile air is required for critical applications, such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, additional absolute rated air sterilization filters should be used to achieve 100% removal of micro-organisms and particles.
There are many different drying technologies available, but not all are able to deliver the outlet dewpoint required to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms. Types of dryers include:
The table below shows the six ISO 8573-1:2010 dewpoint classifications and typical dryer technologies used to achieve the required dewpoint.
Specifications to control micro-organism growth
The recommended pressure dewpoint to control the growth of micro-organisms is ≤ 40°C, equivalent to ISO8573-1:2010 Class 2 for water. The recommended specification for point of use dry particulate filtration is a high-efficiency grade providing particle reduction down to 0.01 micron with a removal efficiency of 99.9999%, equivalent to ISO 8573-1:2010 Class 1:2:1 or ISO 8573-1:2010 Class 1:2:0.
The warm, dark, moist air found in a compressed air system provides the ideal environment for microbes to grow and flourish. Untreated compressed air contains many potentially harmful or dangerous contaminants that must be removed or reduced to acceptable levels to protect consumers, employees, the brand, and provide a safe and cost-effective production process. The most effective way to control the growth and proliferation of micro-organisms is with a combination of very dry compressed air and high-efficiency filtration. For applications requiring sterile air, absolute rated air sterilization filters should be used.
Parker Oil-X filter range and modular dryer ranges have been designed to provide quality that meets or exceeds the levels shown in all editions of ISO 8573-1 and the BCAS Food and Beverage Grade Compressed Air Best Practice Guideline 102. Parker filtration and dryer performance have been independently verified by Lloyds Register.
Recommended filtration products
Recommended drying products
Download the white paper to learn more about the risks of micro-organism contamination in a compressed air system, testing methods, examples of microbial growth, technology recommendations, and best practices for cost-effective system design.
This article was contributed by Mark White, compressed air treatment applications manager, Parker Gas Separation and Filtration Division EMEA
3 Nov 2020
In industries ranging from manufacturing to off-highway, the efficient management of engineering resources is more important than ever as businesses face the acceleration of customer demand for high output at peak performance and reliability. Engineering teams are continually seeking ways to improve existing technologies and hydraulic systems without diminishing the integrity of their designs. The application of high-fidelity simulations is one way that system design engineers are using technology to produce greater results.
In the production of mobile hydraulic systems, for example, manufacturers aim for reliable, efficient and cost-effective solutions. The predictive capabilities of state-of-the-art computational tools that provide real-world accuracy enable engineers to better understand the coherent phenomena and make rational decisions when developing systems. These physics-based simulation technologies promote collaborative product development practices between CAD, PDM and supplier management systems, and hence realize the innovation in response to engineering requirements.
To learn how computer simulations can be used as design instruments, read a case study detailing the fluid and structural mechanics of hydraulic tanks presented in our white paper “Design Innovation Through High-Fidelity Simulations”.
Determining a better structural design of hydraulic systems is a never-ending problem. A wise practice is to explore all possible dimensions of physics to achieve the best solution. The design of hydraulic tanks offers an interesting example of the effectiveness of virtual engineering. Here, the predictive capabilities of state-of-the-art computer simulations can be used to examine models of the effects of a variety of conditions, including:
Hydraulic tanks tend to receive foreign matter of different physical and chemical properties from the return line flow. Although the solid contamination can be separated from the oil stream using a return line filter, air bubbles can pass through the filter and enter the tank. As a result, there can be sudden pressure fluctuations that can lead to cavitation and variable thermal loads.
The return line fluid temperature defines the system operating conditions and is imparted to the tank’s internal structure while the external surface of the tank is exposed to ambient conditions. This can create considerable temperature gradients in the tank’s structure.
The structural behavior of the hydraulic tank in response to the flow and pressure as well as the variable thermal loads constitutes a multi-physics problem with the aspects of bubble motion, turbulence, heat transfer, and structural dynamics.
Fluid-structure interaction (FSI) modeling provides the opportunity to introduce and adjust the variables and evaluate design alternatives at a rate much faster than prototyping. This allows for several alternatives to be studied simultaneously by the engineering team, resulting in quicker solutions for product improvement.
Major engineering trends such as hybridization, 5G, autonomous systems, etc. are transforming the products and processes in many disciplines. Applying virtual reality in the design phase is much faster, and more economical than conventional prototyping and testing. Additionally, these high-fidelity simulations provide undeniable value by, for instance, suggesting suitable materials, appropriate tolerances and adequate manufacturing methods, etc. — all leading to the efficient management of engineering resources.
Download our white paper, “Design Innovation Through High-Fidelity Simulations” to learn how computer simulations can be used to examine the effect of inlet configurations on flow patterns of hydraulic tanks.
This article was contributed by Jagan Gorle, Ph.D., principal R&D engineer, Parker Hydraulic & Industrial Process Division.
21 Oct 2020
Biopharmaceutical manufacturers have traditionally implemented bulk final filtration and bulk dispensing as two separate unit operations – with multiple operators assigned to carrying them out. However, this approach can be inefficient in a number of ways.
Drug product needs to be transported between the two unit operations. This movement of product and materials not only wastes operators’ resources but also increases the time taken to complete the final stage of the manufacturing process. There is also a risk of product loss and contamination during the transition between two unit operations.
Implications for biopharmaceutical manufacturers
The manual nature of bulk final filtration and bulk dispensing as two separate unit operations also has implications for biopharmaceutical manufacturers.Involving multiple operators in the process increases the potential for variability and human error. This can lead to product losses and in the event of contamination, the loss of entire batches – with the resulting financial losses, reputational damage and market shortages of life-changing drugs.
Human error can also lead to inaccuracies; for example, more product being transferred to a bottle or bag than is required can have a significant impact on production and can be financially damaging too – especially given the high value of the product when it reaches this stage.
There are also cost implications of the man-hours dedicated to the two unit operations – as well as the fact that specialist staff may be more effectively employed elsewhere in a process, rather than being used to manually operate pumps and valves.
Using a separate open process for bulk filling after filtration can expose a sterilized batch to potential contamination and given the product is in its most concentrated and valuable format at this time, the consequences can be grave.
How can efficiency be improved?
Parker’s SciLog® FD (Filter and Dispense) System automates, standardizes and encloses final bulk filtration and dispense operations. The system brings bulk final filtration and bulk dispense into one unit operation, which is optimized for both functions.
The SciLog® FD System removes the variability and potential for human error that is inherent in manual processes and it allows manufacturers to apply pre-defined recipes for dispensing. Stages such as sampling and product recovery are automated, while in-line pre and post-use filter integrity testing is built into the system.
How does the SciLog® FD improve efficiency in bulk final filtration and bulk dispense?
Additional advantages Reliability
Gain a greater understanding of the SciLog® Filter and Dispense FD at the SciLog® suite at Parker Bioscience Filtration’s site at Birtley, UK.
You can undertake interactive demonstrations with the SciLog® FD system and run trials to determine how the equipment can be used to optimize your processes. This can also be carried out virtually through a video link.
Contact us to book into the SciLog® suite.
This post was contributed by David Heaney, market development manager, Parker Bioscience Filtration, UK
Parker Bioscience Filtration specializes in automating and controlling bioprocesses. By integrating sensory and automation technology into a process, a manufacturer can control the fluid more effectively ensuring the quality of the final product.
15 Oct 2020
In today’s foundries, facilities engineers and maintenance personnel are challenged with effectively balancing increases in throughput with reductions in costs. Maintaining the optimum performance of baghouses is a critical area of focus as they can have a significant impact — either positive or negative — on the output of a foundry.
Learn how a U.S. foundry venting multiple processes with a shaker baghouse solved high differential pressure, short bag life, costly maintenance and reduced furnace airflow problems. Download the case study.
A foundry located in the U.S. was experiencing high differential pressure and short filter bag life in their baghouses, resulting in costly maintenance and problems with reduced furnace airflow. Specifically, the 3-compartment Bahnson Hawley/Norblo shaker baghouse did not provide adequate airflow to the four induction furnaces, a scrap pre-heater system, and a mag inoculation station it vented. The filters were blinding with fine particulate, and the resulting high-pressure drop across the collector reduced the original design airflow of 40,000 CFM to 28,000 CFM.
The foundry knew they needed expert advice on how to solve these issues before it was too late. They turned to Parker because of the company’s deep experience in air filtration design and equipment. Parker’s specialists determined that a system like the one installed at the foundry required a design air volume of 55,000–60,000 CFM — well beyond the capabilities of the old shaker-style baghouse.
Parker’s engineering team designed a pulse-jet cleaning conversion for the existing housing incorporating the high efficiency of BHA®PulsePleat® filter elements. In the design, the existing housing had the maintenance-intensive shaker mechanisms and thimble tubesheet removed and retrofitted with a flat tubesheet for installing the top-loading BHA®PulsePleat® filters from inside a walk-in clean air plenum. The design called for only 336 BHA®PulsePleat® filter elements to meet the calculated design air volume at a 4:1 air-to-cloth ratio.
BHA® PulsePleat® filter elements can revitalize your dust collection system, by solving the most common baghouse problems: lack of capacity, short filter life, and low efficiency. PulsePleats can increase the filtration surface area in your present baghouse system facilitating higher throughputs, longer life, and higher efficiencies. Benefits include:
The foundry decided to move forward with Parker Hannifin’s recommendation. The system was installed to the design specifications and the improvements quickly proved worthy of the investment. Some of the key findings included:
Effective business management starts with identifying inefficiencies and implementing real-world solutions that provide maximum benefits through increased production and reduced operational costs. By installing Parker’s innovative BHA® PulsePleat® technology, this foundry reduced furnace airflow problems, extended bag filter life and reduced high maintenance costs.
To learn more about the application, download a copy of the case study “
US foundry venting multiple processes with a shaker baghouse solved high differential pressure, short bag life, costly maintenance and reduced furnace airflow problems.”
This blog was contributed by the Industrial Gas Filtration and Generation Team.
15 Oct 2020
As production facilities managers can attest, global wine production and consumption continue to flourish. Record production levels of 293 million hectolitre were reached during 2018. Europe continues to dominate wine production with Italy, France and Spain accounting for approximately 51 percent of global production. This puts additional stress on operations for plant managers.
Precise process cooling is one of the most critical requirements in modern winemaking. The application of cooling during several production steps facilitates high volume production whilst maintaining the unique flavour profile of the final product. Temperature control is also an important factor in wine preservation where consistent quality is required to allow distribution of the product to the global market. Hyperchill and Hyperchill Plus chillers offer a robust and cost-effective solution ideally suited to the exacting cooling demands of the wine industry.
Winemaking has been around for thousands of years. Many traditional and modern techniques are employed to produce the vast array of wine products found in the market place. There are different approaches required to produce red, white and sparkling wines.
In general, wine production can be split into 5 steps:
The diagram below details the wine processing stages and where chilling may be applied:
Temperature control through precision chillers may be employed in the following wine processes:
Cold maceration techniques are often employed in the production of red wines. The process is applied prior to alcoholic fermentation and can improve the extraction of taste and colour compounds from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the wine must. Wines manufactured in this way are considered to have more fruit flavours and colour intensity, in addition to reduced tartness.
Cold maceration can be achieved using several methods. Precision chillers, in conjunction with tubular heat exchangers or jacketed vats, are often able to deliver the required cooling capacity. Cold maceration usually occurs between 4-15°C for a period of two to seven days.
Temperature control of the wine must during the fermentation process is essential in the production of high-quality wines. Alcoholic fermentation is an exothermic chemical reaction in which yeast is used to transform the natural sugars into alcohol.
Optimal fermentation temperatures range between 18-20°C for white wines and 25°C for red wines. If excess heat is not removed from the process fermentation can stop, this can result in a poor taste profile with high sugar content. Additional additives such as Sulphur Dioxide are then required to prevent spoiling during storage.
Precision chillers are generally used to supply the cooling fluid to helical coils or jacket heat exchangers in the fermentation vessel. The diagram below depicts a typical set-up:
At low temperatures, a natural component called potassium bitartrate can crystallise out of the wine and leave sediment in the bottle. The crystals are considered an undesirable component in high-quality products.
Cold stabilisation is often practised prior to bottling to remove excess potassium bitartrate. The wine is chilled close to freezing point and held at this temperature for up to 48 hours. The low temperatures cause the potassium bitartrate to precipitate out of the solution where it can be filtered off before bottling.
The diagram below shows a typical set up for tartrate precipitation:
Hyperchill and Hyperchill Plus chillers deliver safe and reliable operation under varied working conditions that can meet the challenges found in the wine industry.
Key features and benefits for the industry are as follows:
This post was contributed by James Brown, compressed air and gas treatment/analytical gas sales manager and Filippo Turra, product manager, Parker Gas Separation and Filtration Division EMEA
8 Oct 2020
Sourcing fresh water for onboard use is an important consideration for the blue water cruiser. Blue water cruisers are boats designed to handle and be out in rough seas off the coast. These boats are designed for long passages across open water. Potable water can either be stored in tanks on the vessel, or it can be provided on-demand through the use of an onboard watermaker. A watermaker turns salt water into fresh water by removing salt and other contaminants. These new on-demand water purification systems can be installed on almost any vessel.
Parker's latest generation of its Aqua Whisper Pro series of fully manual watermakers brings efficiency and noiseless operation to your yacht and leisure craft. The Aqua Whisper Pro is suited for charter, offshore fishing, and ocean cruising. It’s traditional manual functions and touch-pad control panel allow simple operation and digital and analog instrumentation for redundancy.
The Sea Recovery Aqua Whisper Pro is an extremely quiet, compact watermaker for leisure marine applications, designed with the blue water cruiser in mind.
Another key feature is unobstructed access to the main components for ease of maintenance.
“The modular version offers customers a water maker package that allows for customized installation of the components.”
— Paul Kamel, engineering manager for Parker Bioscience and Water Filtration
The Aqua Whisper Pro utilizes precision engineered components and features a modern push-button controller interface with a digital display. Driven by AC or DC motors, this configuration enables boat owners to fit their watermaker into tight spaces. Integral to every SRC Aqua Whisper Pro unit is an open frame, resulting in less installation time.
The watermaker utilizes a stainless steel pump specifically designed for seawater reverse osmosis applications. The unique design of this high-pressure pump reduces the noise level to a negligent hum.
Blue water cruising
The Aqua Whisper Pro produces between 450 to 1800 GPD of water, making it perfectly suited for mid to large-sized yachts and fishing boats.
New lower energy consumption watermaker
The low-hassle PRO (Parker Reverse Osmosis) Mini System is engineered to fit anywhere. Measuring at about 2 - 3 cubic feet, sail, center console, small power boaters and catamarans have the opportunity and the convenience of a Sea Recovery Watermaker without space restrictions. Featuring a simple interface, the PRO Mini can be monitored via the control panel or remote (optional). The perfect seaworthy companion for the solo cruise, the PRO Mini can produce up to 7,15, 23, or 31 gallons of fresh water per hour and 170, 350, 550, or 750 gallons per day.
Whether you use it to drink, for cooking, to shower, for washing clothes or dishes, or to wash down your yacht, a Parker reverse osmosis (R.O.) watermaker system offers more than enough potable water for any crew, big or small. Having a Parker watermaker on board provides unlimited possibilities for saving money, and increasing leisure time.
This article was contributed by Paul Kamel, engineering manager, Parker Bioscience and Water Filtration
1 Oct 2020