Easy Engineering is a continuation of a series of educational videos to explain special compressed air-operated items for blow-off and cooling, moving on to what they are made of, how they work, and how to use them.
A vortex tube is a unique device that takes compressed air and literally divides it into a hot and cold stream. There is usually no practical use for the hot air stream. Still, spot cooling for the cold end has many practical applications because of the product’s compact nature and mounting flexibility. The product uses no electricity and is lightweight.
Vortex tubes can be made of different materials, such as aluminum, brass, and stainless steel, but stainless steel is more popular as it stands up better in factory environments. A vortex tube is a device used to produce cold air and is often installed in hot areas. Therefore, it is a better material to use in a hot, often dirty corrosive environment.
There is sometimes a misconception that the colder the cold temperature from the vortex tube, the greater the cooling effect. That is incorrect. As the vortex tube operates by dividing the incoming compressed air into two streams, it is important to recognize that the cold air temperature drop and the flow are interdependent.
You will have less cold end flow if you want a colder temperature at the cold end. If you need more flow, the temperature drop at the cold end will not be as high. The video explains this in more detail.
A piece inside the vortex tube called the generator controls the overall flow of air utilized. The more compressed air consumed, the more the cooling effect. There are also different types of generators. One type restricts the flow on the cold end so that the cold end temperature is always very low.
Orientation of the vortex tube does not affect the outlet flow or temperatures produced, giving it flexibility for installation. Apart from spot cooling applications, they can also be used effectively to cool enclosures.