When someone mentions issues with moisture, the first thing that comes to my mind is mold. If your basement has ever flooded, you can relate. This article is not about that.
In the manufacturing and process world, moisture can cause significant problems, even in small concentrations. The phrase “water and oil don’t mix” came to being for a reason (well, technically it can under the right pressure, but you get the idea).
Water doesn’t always play well with others. It can cause corrosion in valves, pipes and motors. It will react with a number of chemicals like lithium, sodium, silver, ammonia, chlorine, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. It can destroy catalysts in hydrocarbon and petrochemical processing. And of course, it will freeze.
So what does that mean to your processes?
- If you have pneumatic controls and tools, it can cause corrosion and can also plug pneumatic orifices, valves and actuators
- If you are using compressed air in a manufacturing plant, moisture will cause problems in the operation of pneumatic systems, solenoid valves and air motors and can adversely affect the process or product being manufactured
- It can cause rust and increased wear of moving parts in production equipment as it washes away lubrication
- It can freeze in control lines in cold weather, which may cause faulty operation of controls
- It can cause corrosion of air or gas operated instruments, giving false readings, interrupting or shutting down plant processes.
- It can cause contaminant in plastic processing like blow molding and injection molding
- It can cause high voltage discharge in oil filled transformers
- It significantly reduces the yield of Ozone produced by corona discharge generators
- It can cause oxidation of metal surfaces during certain heat treating process
So all sorts of bad things, right? So what do we do about it?
By measuring for moisture of course! There are a number of ways to measure moisture from color indicator tubes, chilled mirrors, electrolytic, piezoelectric sorption (or Quartz Crystal Microbalance), spectroscopy, and probably the most common, aluminum oxide probes.
If moisture is a problem in your processes, RAECO LIC may be able to offer a solution.
RAECO LIC is the authorized representative for GE Measurement and Control for the U.S. Midwest.