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Vortex Tube

Vortex TubesIntelligent Compressed Air Product

Cold air to -46°C (-50°F) from your compressed air supply - with no moving parts!

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What Is A Vortex Tube?

A low cost, reliable, maintenance free solution to a variety of industrial spot cooling problems. Using an ordinary supply of compressed air as a power source, vortex tubes create two streams of air, one hot and one cold, with no moving parts. Vortex tubes can produce:

  • Temperatures from -46° to +127°C (-50° to +260°F)
  • Flow rates from 1 to 150 SCFM (28 to 4248 SLPM)
  • Refrigeration up to 10,200 Btu/hr. (2571 Kcal/hr.)

Temperatures, flows and refrigeration are adjustable over a wide range using the control valve on the hot end exhaust.

Cool product during ultrasonic welding
A Model 3225 Vortex Tube keeps plastic dishwasher arms cool during ultrasonic welding.

Why EXAIR Vortex Tubes?

EXAIR Vortex Tubes are constructed of stainless steel. The wear resistance of stainless steel, as well as its resistance to corrosion and oxidation, assures that EXAIR Vortex Tubes will provide years of reliable, maintenance-free operation.
Cool medical tube die
A Model 3215 Vortex Tube cools a die on a medical tube forming machine.
Cool cutting knives in pelletizer
(4) Model 3250 Vortex Tubes cool the cutting knives in this pelletizer to prevent irregular shapes.
Cool medical tube die
A Model 3215 Vortex Tube cools a die on a medical tube forming machine.

Applications

  • Cooling electronic controls
  • Cooling machining operations
  • Cooling CCTV cameras
  • Setting hot melts
  • Cooling soldered parts
  • Cooling gas samples
  • Electronic component cooling
  • Cooling heat seals
  • Cooling environmental chambers

Advantages

  • No moving parts
  • No electricity or chemicals
  • Small, lightweight
  • Low cost
  • Maintenance free
  • Instant cold air
  • Durable - stainless steel
  • Adjustable temperature
  • Interchangeable generators
1/4 ton of refrigeration in your hand
A 1/4 ton of refrigeration in the palm of your hand!

How the Vortex Tube Works

Compressed air, normally 80-100 PSIG (5.5 - 6.9 BAR), is ejected tangentially through a generator into the vortex spin chamber. At up to 1,000,000 RPM, this air stream revolves toward the hot end where some escapes through the control valve. The remaining air, still spinning, is forced back through the center of this outer vortex. The inner stream gives off kinetic energy in the form of heat to the outer stream and exits the vortex tube as cold air. The outer stream exits the opposite end as hot air. Read the History of the Vortex Tube for more information.

Controlling Temperature and Flow in a Vortex Tube

Vortex Tube Assembly Diagram

Cold airflow and temperature are easily controlled by adjusting the slotted valve in the hot air outlet. Opening the valve reduces the cold airflow and the cold air temperature. Closing the valve increases the cold airflow and the cold air temperature. The percentage of air directed to the cold outlet of the vortex tube is called the "cold fraction". In most applications, a cold fraction of 80% produces a combination of cold flow rate and temperature drop that maximises refrigeration, or Btu/hr. (Kcal/hr.) output of a vortex tube. While low cold fractions (less than 50%) produce lowest temperatures, cold airflow rate is sacrificed to achieve them.

Most industrial applications, i.e., process cooling, part cooling, chamber cooling, require maximum refrigeration and utilize the 3200 series Vortex Tube. Certain "cryogenic" applications, i.e., cooling lab samples, circuit testing, are best served by the 3400 series Vortex Tube.

Setting a vortex tube is easy. Simply insert a thermometer in the cold air exhaust and set the temperature by adjusting the valve at the hot end. Maximum refrigeration (80% cold fraction) is achieved when cold air temperature is 28°C (50°F) below compressed air temperature.


High Temperature Vortex Tubes

High Temperature Vortex Tubes

EXAIR’s High Temperature Vortex Tubes are ideal for spot cooling applications that are located in hot environments up to 200°C (392°F). They produce the same cold air temperatures down to -46°C (-50°F) and have cooling capacities of 135 to 10,200 Btu/hr. There are no plastic parts and the generator uses a brass construction. Please contact us for more information.


Dimensions

Small Vortex Tube Dimensions
Small Vortex Tube with muffler Dimensions
Small Vortex Tube Dimensions
Small Vortex Tube with muffler Dimensions
Medium Vortex Tube Dimensions
Medium Vortex Tube with muffler Dimensions
Medium Vortex Tube Dimensions
Medium Vortex Tube with muffler Dimensions
Large Vortex Tube Dimensions
Large Vortex Tube with muffler Dimensions
Large Vortex Tube Dimensions
Large Vortex Tube with muffler Dimensions

Vortex Tube Specifications

EXAIR Vortex Tubes are available in three sizes. Each size can produce a number of flow rates, as determined by a small internal part called a generator. If Btu/hr. (Kcal/hr.) requirements, or flow and temperature requirements are known, simply select the appropriate vortex tube according to the specification information shown below or the performance charts. Keep in mind that the vortex generators are interchangeable. If, for example, a Model 3215 Vortex Tube does not provide sufficient cooling, you need only change generators within the vortex tube to upgrade the flow rate from 15 to 25, 30 or 40 SCFM (425 to 708, 850 or 1133 SLPM). 


VT Cool_Kit

If you are unsure of your flow and temperature requirements, we recommend the purchase of an EXAIR Cooling Kit. It contains a vortex tube, cold air muffler, air line filter and all generators required to experiment with the full range of airflows and temperatures.

3200 Series Vortex Tube Specifications
3200 series Vortex Tubes optimize temperature drop and airflow to produce maximum cooling power or Btu/hr. (Kcal/hr.). Specify 3200 series Vortex Tubes for most general cooling applications.
Model # SCFM* SLPM* Btu/hr.** Kcal/hr.** Size
3202 2 57 135 34 Small
3204 4 113 275 69 Small
3208 8 227 550 139 Small
3210 10 283 650 164 Medium
3215 15 425 1000 252 Medium
3225 25 708 1700 428 Medium
3230 30 850 2000 504 Medium
3240 40 1133 2800 706 Medium
3250 50 1416 3400 857 Large
3275 75 2124 5100 1285 Large
3298 100 2832 6800 1714 Large
3299 150 4248 10,200 2570 Large
* SCFM (SLPM) at 100 PSIG (6.9 Bar) Inlet Pressure
** Btu/hr. (Kcal/hr.) Cooling Capacity at 100 PSIG (6.9 Bar)

 
3400 Series Vortex Tube Specifications
3400 series Vortex Tubes optimize temperature drop and airflow to produce maximum cooling power or Btu/hr. (Kcal/hr.). Specify 3400 series Vortex Tubes for most general cooling applications.
Model # SCFM* SLPM* Btu/hr.** Kcal/hr.** Size
3402 2 57 -------- -------- Small
3404 4 113 -------- -------- Small
3408 8 227 -------- -------- Small
3410 10 283 -------- -------- Medium
3415 15 425 -------- -------- Medium
3425 25 708 -------- -------- Medium
3430 30 850 -------- -------- Medium
3440 40 1133 -------- -------- Medium
3450 50 1416 -------- -------- Large
3475 75 2124 -------- -------- Large
3498 100 2834 -------- -------- Large
3499 150 4248 -------- -------- Large
* SCFM (SLPM) at 100 PSIG (6.9 Bar) Inlet Pressure
** Not Applicable. 3400 series Vortex Tubes are not normally used in air conditioning applications.
Temperature Change Produced by Vortex Tubes
Pressure SupplyChange in TempCold Fraction %
PSIG 20304050607080
20 Drop °F 62 60 56 51 44 36 28
Rise °F 15 25 36 50 64 83 107
40 Drop °F 88 85 80 73 63 52 38
Rise °F 21 35 52 71 92 117 147
60 Drop °F 104 100 93 84 73 60 46
Rise °F 24 40 59 80 104 132 166
80 Drop °F 115 110 102 92 80 66 50
Rise °F 25 43 63 86 113 143 180
100 Drop °F 123 118 110 100 86 71 54
Rise °F 26 45 67 90 119 151 191
120 Drop °F 129 124 116 104 91 74 55
Rise °F 26 46 69 94 123 156 195

 
Temperature Change Produced by Vortex Tubes (Metric)
Pressure SupplyChange in TempCold Fraction %
BAR 20304050607080
1.4 Drop °C 34.4 33.3 31.1 28.3 24.4 20 15.6
Rise °C 8.3 13.9 20 28.3 35.6 46.1 59.4
2 Drop °C 40.9 39.6 37.1 33.8 29.2 24 18.1
Rise °C 9.8 16.4 24 33.3 42.6 54.6 69.5
3 Drop °C 50.4 48.7 45.7 41.6 36 29.7 21.9
Rise °C 12 19.9 29.6 40.3 52.3 66.5 83.5
4 Drop °C 56.9 54.7 50.9 46.1 40 32.9 25.1
Rise °C 13.2 21.9 32.4 43.9 57.1 72.5 91.2
5 Drop °C 61.6 59 54.8 49.4 43 35.4 26.9
Rise °C 13.7 23.3 34.2 46.5 60.9 77.2 97.1
6 Drop °C 65.4 62.7 58.2 52.7 45.6 37.6 28.6
Rise °C 14.1 24.3 35.8 48.6 63.9 81 102.1
7 Drop °C 68.6 65.8 61.4 55.7 48 39.6 30
Rise °C 14.4 25.1 37.3 50.2 66.3 84.2 106.3
8 Drop °C 71.1 68.2 63.8 57.3 50 40.8 30.4
Rise °C 14.4 25.4 38.1 51.8 67.9 86.1 107.9

Other Factors

Back Pressure:
The performance of a vortex tube deteriorates with back pressure on the cold air exhaust. Low back pressure, up to 2 PSIG (.1 BAR), will not change performance. 5 PSIG (.3 BAR) will change performance by approximately 2.8°C (5°F).

Filtration:
The use of clean air is essential, and filtration of 25 microns or less is recommended. EXAIR filters contain a five micron element and are properly sized for flow.

Inlet Air Temperature:
A vortex tube provides a temperature drop from supply air temperature (see Performance Charts above). Elevated inlet temperatures will produce a corresponding rise in cold air temperatures.

Noise Muffling:
EXAIR offers mufflers for both the hot and cold air discharge. Normally, muffling is not required if the cold air is ducted

Regulation:
For best performance, use line pressures of 80 to 110 PSIG (5.5 to 7.6 BAR). Maximum pressure rating is 250 PSIG (17.2 BAR), minimum 20 PSIG (1.4 BAR).

If you are unsure of your flow and temperature requirements, we recommend the purchase of an EXAIR Cooling Kit. It contains a vortex tube, cold air muffler, air line filter and all generators required to experiment with the full range of airflows and temperatures.


Models

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Installation and Maintenance Sheets

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Compressed Air Australia

GPO Box 2792, Darwin,
Northern Territory 0801, Australia
Tel: +61 8 8983 3999
Fax: +61 8 8983 3900