According to the Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the three major contaminants in compressed air are solid particles, water, and oil. CAGI promotes proper use of air compressors with various educational tools, while ISO 8573 is directed at the very specific areas of compressed air purity and test methods, which this article will address. Microorganisms are also considered a major contaminant by CAGI, but will not be discussed in this article.
ISO and CAGI
Compressed Air Best Practices® (CABP) Magazine and the Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) cooperate to provide readers with educational materials, updates on standards and information on other CAGI initiatives. CABP recently caught up with Rick Stasyshan, Technical Consultant for the Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) and with Ian MacLeod, from CAGI member-company Ingersoll Rand to discuss the topic of motors on centrifugal air compressors.
NFPA 99 Medical Air
In the U.S. as an example, the NFPA has taken the view that if your compressor draws in good clean ambient air, the air stays clean through the compressor, is then dried and filtered, when you deliver it to the patient it will be entirely satisfactory. After all, when you went into the hospital that’s what you were breathing and when you leave you will breathe it again!
After almost three and a half years of development work the Canadian Standards Association C837-16 document “Monitoring and Energy Performance of Compressed Air Systems” has finally been published and is available for download. The work in writing the document was done by a CSA Technical Subcommittee made up of personnel from power utilities and government organizations, compressed air manufacturers and end users from both USA and Canada, with the committee activities facilitated and coordinated by the CSA Group (see list of committee members).
Food Grade Air
Compressed air is a critical utility widely used throughout the food industry. Being aware of the composition of compressed air used in your plant is key to avoiding product contamination. Your task is to assess the activities and operations that can harm a product, the extent to which a product can be harmed, and how likely it is that product harm will occur. Assessing product contamination is a multi-step process in which you must identify the important risks, prioritize them for management, and take reasonable steps to remove or reduce the chance of harm to the product, and, in particular, serious harm to the consumer.
Large hospitals often use compressed air for important operational related end uses. The systems that produce this air need to supply clean and dry compressed air with a high level of reliability. These systems are not immune to efficiency problems as is the case for any compressed air system.
BSA LifeStructures is a full service architectural and engineering firm specializing in healthcare, higher education and technology facilities. We employ close to 260 associates and are established in two locations; Indianapolis and Chicago. Our strongest focus is on hospitals and university facilities.
Hazardous breathing conditions exist in routine industrial operations, such as hospitals, abrasive blasting, paint spraying, industrial cleaning, and arc welding. In these and other operations that introduce contaminants into the workplace, supplied-air respirators are frequently used for worker protection.
A good-size hospital with 200 beds and ten operating rooms can have a medical air system, a laboratory air system, and pneumatic air systems. The medical air systems must all follow the NFPA 99 guidelines. We follow these guidelines, from the beginning, when we assess the demand for air in a hospital.
The most abundant contaminant in any compressed air system is water. This can be in either liquid or vapour form. Atmospheric air is already very wet, and becomes saturated when compressed. This water vapour will condense when the temperature drops, after the compressor, and will damage air receivers, pipework and equipment. For this reason coalescing filters and then dryers are used to remove the bulk of this water.
Located in the bowels of most hospitals, you will find the source of the Level 1 Medical Air compressed air system. Per the NFPA Section 99 Specification (National Fire Protection Association), Level 1 air compressor systems provide air for human consumption within the hospital facility.
The next time you sit down for dinner, take a good look at your food. There’s a very good chance compressed air played an essential role in preparing your meal for consumption.
If you have ever looked at the small print of a compressor brochure or a CAGI Data Sheet or a compressor technical information page, you have probably seen some reference to one of the above standards. At one time or another, US compressor manufacturers have used these standards to test and report compressor performance. These are referred to as “Acceptance Test” codes.
Most readers of this magazine are familiar with the ISO 9000 and 14000 families of standards. The 9000 family pertains to quality management systems and the 14000 family deals with environmental management.
Industry standards serve a very important purpose for the end users of compressed air equipment. If the standards are well written, they can help to promote the equipment that they govern, as long as the equipment manufacturers properly apply and promote the standards.