Removing Microorganisms from Compressed Air Systems

Contaminant and bacteria removal can help protect your compressed air system

Posted on April 3rd, 2023

Compressed air is not immune to bacteria and microorganisms sneaking into the air stream and contaminating the end product. Microorganisms are incredibly hard to eliminate, mostly due to their size. Since contaminants can be as small as 1 to 3 micrometers in size, the standard 5-micron compressed air filter is not able to completely remove them. Depending on the end product, the tiniest microorganisms in the compressed air system could be disastrous.

The Dangers of Microorganisms

Microorganisms are smaller than a single grain of sand. Without the proper filtration products, they can easily infiltrate compressed air systems. Depending on your application, they can become a serious threat. Particularly within the food and medical industries, bacteria can cause serious health problems. Even within non-life-threatening industries, products can be ruined from microorganism exposure, leading to costly repairs.

Bacteria, mold, and yeast are all forms of microorganisms. When the conditions are right, they grow and expand. Throughout a compressed air system, an ideal habitat can be formed as the hot air cools and moisture forms in the dark piping. So, an effective system would remove the smallest of contaminants and moisture after every point within the system where they could enter.

Preventing microorganisms through maintenance

Take the proper precautions to effectively remove and prevent microorganisms from contaminating your compressed air stream.

  • Eliminate Moisture – Installing water separators and compressed air dryers are essential. The water separator removes bulk water while the compressed air dryer removes water vapor from the air stream. When paired together, they effectively remove moisture from the system.

For an in-depth explanation of why you need both a water separator and a compressed air dryer, read our blog, Why Does a Compressed Air Dryer Need a Water Separator?

  • Remove Particle ContaminantsCompressed air filters are the most effective way to remove contaminants from the compressed air system. Installing filters with varying micron-removing elements protects  your end-product from possible microorganisms that have snuck into the system.

Several compressed air filters should be installed in a row for optimum performance. First should be a 5-micron, followed by a 1-micron, and finally a 0.01-micron. The 5-micron filter removes the largest contaminants, down to 5 microns in size, and allows the smaller particles to pass. Then the 1-micron filter does the same, down to 1-micron. The 0.01-micron filter is last so that it removes the smallest of contaminants. By utilizing varying-sized filters, the filter elements last longer because they are not quickly clogged with large particles that would prohibit it from removing the smallest of contaminants.

  • Maintain Maintenance Schedules – Compressed air filters and dryers require regular maintenance to properly remove contaminants. For example, at Walker Filtration, compressed air filters should have the elements changed every 12 months, or every 12,000 hours, whichever comes first.

Maintenance can be as simple as changing the filter element and checking for air leaks. Once your system is past due for service, you run the risk of filter elements being clogged and allowing contaminants to move freely throughout the system. Since the contaminants are so small, especially in the 0.01-micron filter element, it could be challenging to tell whether or not an element needs to be changed.

Compressed Air Products You Can Trust

Walker Filtration provides high-quality compressed air filters, water separators, compressed air dryers, and more. Trusted by customers across all fields, including the life-sustaining medical and food packaging fields, we have the products to protect your end product. Contact our sales team today to discuss your unique application.

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