condensation in compressed air tank

Discussion in 'Equipment & Survival Kits' started by bstickler92, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. bstickler92

    bstickler92 Well-Known Member

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    i'm not sure if this is the right place to ask but i'm trying to think of ways to keep condensation out of a metal compressed air tank. it says i should destroy it in 2016 for this reason. would a packet of desicant(sp?) inside the tank take care of this or would a more expensive in line air dryer do the trick? btw, it's a 5 gallon vehicle mounted tank compressed by a 12v compressor so it will be used by me quite a lot once i finish the system. so back to the question. waterproofing the inside of a compressed air tank.
     
  2. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

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    I don't think there's anything you can do except drain it often. The water in the tank is a byproduct of compressing/decompressing the air. External filters and water separators will only work on the air pumped to the outside of the tank. Any dessicant you use will be saturated very quickly and be worse than nothing at all.
     

  3. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    I'm shooting from the hip here, but it seems as though you could rig some sort of an external dryer. Hmmm. Maybe layers of desicant in a 5 gallon bucket on the intake? In other words, pass the inlet air through the closed dessicant bucket. ??

    I don't know if this is recommended or not, but I tilted my new compressor on its back and squirted some of 10W-30 mixed with some Kerosene into the drain plug -- leaned it back and forth to coat the inside. I still get condensation, of course, but time will tell if the oil treatment prevents it from rusting out.
     
  4. longtime

    longtime Well-Known Member

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    I run my compressed air through a big heat exchanger (old heating coils 8'X1'X1' almost 96' total length 3/4 finned copper tube) then through a 360 deg. loop with drip legs before it goes into the tank. I drain both drip legs daily. As a result I get very little moisture out of the tank when I open the drain. The inter-cooler cools the air enough that almost all the water condenses before the tank.
     
  5. bstickler92

    bstickler92 Well-Known Member

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    i like the oil on the inside idea because i'm pretty sure it's not painted inside. it's a harbor freight tank so there's no drain plug, just one half inch hole near the top of the tank
     
  6. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Well-Known Member

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    I agree, draining the tank often is about all you can do. The tank itself will have condensation form inside it so even external dryers such as those found in sealed refrigeration equipment will not work.
     
  7. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    See if you can locate a B-Pressure welder (person, not just the machine) near your home that can drill the tank and weld-in a petcock that will allow you to drain the moisture from the tank after each use.

    Putting oil into the air-tank is a double-edged sword. It can help air-tools stay lubricated, but, that same oil can get into your tires (if used to fill tires) and coat the inside. Depending on the type of oils used inside the tank, it could help wear-down the strength of the rubber-compound inside the tire itself (also known as dry-rotting). If using a motor-oil (most have detergents, ATF and diesel motor oil have higher amounts of detergents), the detergents will eat away the inside of the tires the same way that brake-fluid eats away paint and non-DOT approved rubber hoses.
     
  8. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    Grey Wolfe, it seems as though the dryer should prevent condensation in the tank because if the intake air is free of moisture, then there would be no moisture to condense.
     
  9. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    The problem comes from the compression cycle. There is always moisture in the air - or - the chemical makeup of moisture (hydrogen and oxygen) that when compressed can force the separate molecules to join and turn into water-vapor which, when cooled against the sides of the tank turn to water droplets which then can help oxidize the tank.

    There are products (like POR15) that can be swished inside of a tank to help create a barrier against rust - but - if the tank is dinted, it might cause the coating to flake away in that area...
     
  10. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Well-Known Member

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    Great job explaining that Vance. That is why even with the heat exchanger/heating coil as described above, there is still some moisture in the tank. In a sealed refrigeration unit the dryer and heat exchanger work well because a vaccum is pulled on the lines of the sealed unit removing all the air and that air is replaced by a gas, usually a freon type gas, which produce much less condensation/moisture in the lines.

    The coating sounds like a good approach and seem like they would work reasonably well. Perhaps if the tank does get dented you could simply recoat the interior of the tank as a precaution. I've never used any of these coatings myself and am not sure if that would work or not. With my luck the oil option would work 99% of the time just fine but that one time I needed something to spray perfectly droplets would come out.
     
  11. allen_idaho

    allen_idaho Well-Known Member

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    I am a welder. And this would be one way to go. But the easier thing to do would be to drill and tap a hole. Then just screw one in. As long as you get a good seal, it would work perfectly.
     
  12. bstickler92

    bstickler92 Well-Known Member

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    i like the idea of por 15, if i can get some, it sounds like the best thing to resist corrosion inside
     
  13. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

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    I'd still install and use the drain plug/petcock.
     
  14. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    If he has the kind of tank that I have visualized in my mind's eye, the tank-walls might be 16G to 14G material and to do a drill-tap on it and put in a plug would be asking for troubles. If it is a heavier-wall tank (maybe in the 3/16" variety) I wouldn't question the strength of the drill-tap.

    You could be very right that it would work, but, from my experience a welded in bung would be better.
     
  15. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    I believe that in the USA, POR15 is available in many of the automotive part stores. If you can't find it locally, you can order it online for shipment to your door. To get you started - visit POR15.com
     
  16. allen_idaho

    allen_idaho Well-Known Member

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    The average compressed air tank is built with a wall thickness of 5/16" in the United States.
     
  17. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    I agree that the tanks that are mounted to a compressor (home / shop / industrial) are all built with heavy-wall construction, but, based on bstickler92's quick description of the tank (it's a harbor freight tank so there's no drain plug, just one half inch hole near the top of the tank), so I did a quick-search on the Harbor Freight website and got three possible products on screen that might just be one of the tanks that he has ..

    Harbor Freight SearchTerm - Air Tank

    If the two cheaper tanks starting at $25 are 5/16" wall - I'll purchase a couple of them for my own OnBoardAir systems that I have planned - that is a freakin' awesome price :2thumb:
     
  18. bstickler92

    bstickler92 Well-Known Member

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    the one i have is the yellow 5 gallon, it fits perfectly on the rear wheel well of my jeep and i have added a few things, i might get a second tank and connect the two. i'll post a pic of it in a little bit
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2010
  19. bstickler92

    bstickler92 Well-Known Member

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    i am planning to add a quick connect fitting directly above the valve that is going up. ok, so here's the tank as it is:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2010
  20. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    Would your Jeep happen to be a YJ (I have a couple of them) or CJ? I can't imagine being able to mount a tank of that size on the wheel well of my LJ.