How a facility manages its compressed air condensate influences operational reliability and, because of the hazardous waste that condensate contains, affects a plant’s impact on the environment. It’s important that compressed air systems have a condensate management network in place. Knowing the environmental factors that produce more or less condensate, understanding the drain and piping systems, and identifying what condensate is made of are integral to properly maintaining a compressed air system.
How condensate is formed and managed
When atmospheric air is compressed, the amount of water that can exist in a vapor state is reduced, causing the surplus water to condense into a liquid. This water mixes with other airborne constituents consumed from the environment along with traces of lubricant/coolant from the compressor. The resulting emulsification is referred to as compressed air condensate.
The volume of condensate that is extracted from a compressor is based on the difference between how much water was present in the atmospheric air ingested into the compressor and how much water can remain in a vapor state at the temperature and pressure of the compressed air. Consequently, a compressed air system will generate more condensate on a hot summer day than on a cold winter day.