What is a Vortex tube?
The Supreme Air Products vortex tube separates regular compressed air into cold and hot air streams. It is a pneumatic product which does not require any electricity, refrigerants, or other gases to operate because it is powered entirely by compressed air. Its small size allows it to be easily integrated into a variety of industrial applications. The Supreme Air Products vortex tube is ideal for fast and effective spot cooling, as it offers cooling capacities of up to 2800 BTUs and can create temperature drops of up to 80°C. Vortex tubes can also be used for heating purposes, with a convenient temperature adjustment screw that allows the user to control the proportions of hot and cold air released by the vortex tube.
How do Vortex tube work?
Our vortex tubes are offered in two series (Series B and Series C). Series B is engineered to produce maximum BTU rating. This essentially means that Series B vortex tubes focus on air flow instead of achieving maximum cold temperature. Series C is engineered to focus on maximum cold temperature rather than providing maximum air flow output. C Series vortex tubes should only be used if extreme cold temperature is required as the cold air flow is reduced.
How does a Supreme Air Products Vortex tube work?
- An air line is connected to the vortex tube through a standard male NPT thread
- Compressed air enters the vortex tube through the NPT inlet and is forced into the spin chamber by the vortex generator.
- The air stream spins at high speeds inside the spin chamber, which separates the hot and cold air due to their weight differential.
- Lighter hot air is pushed to the outer wall of the spin chamber, while heavier cold air remains in the center.
- The hot and cold air streams exit at opposite ends of the vortex tube
- Users are able to control the proportion of hot and cold air release with a temperature adjustment screw located on the hot end. If the screw is loosened in a counter clockwise direction, more hot air will be released. As a result, the volume of cold air at the opposite end is reduced and the temperature of cold air will be drop. If the screw is tightened in a clockwise direction, the opposite effect will take place – more cold air will be released and the volume of hot air will be reduced, however, the temperature on the cold end will rise.
Supreme Air Products vortex tubes operate at different noise levels depending on the CFM capacity. For example, the 15 CFM capacity vortex tube operates at approximately 70 DB. To reduce noise levels, we offer optional cold end mufflers, which can reduce noise by up to 11 DB, and hot end mufflers, which can further reduce noise by an additional 4 DB.
We offer vortex tubes in aluminum or stainless-steel material with a variety of CFM capacities ranging from 2 to 40 CFM. The small vortex tube ranges from 2 to 8 CFM, while the medium vortex tube ranges from 10 to 40 CFM. Using our optional generators, these capacities can be changed quickly and easily with the simple turn of a screw. For example, a 10 CFM vortex tube that is used for small cooling needs, can be changed to 40 CFM for maximum cooling needs in less than 30 seconds.
Supreme Air Products goes above and beyond to ensure that installation of our products is simple and easy. Please visit our “Accessories” section to view optional accessories and refer to some examples of recommended setups below.
Vortex tube Specifications
Which Vortex Tube will best suit my needs?
We offer two different Vortex tube sizes: small and medium. Our Vortex Tubes are available in both aluminum and stainless steel construction. Stainless steel provides resistance against wear and tear, corrosion and oxidation, which ensures that a Vortex Tube from Supreme Air Products™ will provide years of reliable, maintenance-free operation. Aluminum Vortex Tubes are more affordable and 100% non-magnetic, which may be required in special applications. Please note that aluminum Vortex Tubes are only offered in sizes ranging from 10 SCFM to 40 SCFM.
B Series Vortex Tube Specifications
Our B Series Vortex Tubes are ideal for most common industrial applications such as: spot cooling, tool cooling, parts cooling and heating. B Series Vortex Tubes optimize airflow and temperature drop to produce maximum BTU’s of cooling capacity.
|Size||Model No.||Air Consumption||BTU/Hr. @ 100 PSIG||Kcal / Hr. @ 6.9|
|Small||VT02B||2 SCFM (57 SLPM)||145 BTU/Hr.||37|
|Small||VT04B||4 SCFM (113 SLPM)||275 BTU/Hr.||69|
|Small||VT08B||8 SCFM (227 SLPM)||560 BTU/Hr.||141|
|Medium||VT10B||10 SCFM (283 SLPM)||700 BTU/Hr.||176|
|Medium||VT15B||15 SCFM (425 SLPM)||1100 BTU/Hr.||277|
|Medium||VT25B||25 SCFM (708 SLPM)||1800 BTU/Hr.||454|
|Medium||VT30B||30 SCFM (850 SLPM)||2060 BTU/Hr.||519|
|Medium||VT40B||40 SCFM (1133 SLPM)||2800 BTU/Hr.||706|
C Series Vortex Tube Specifications
The C Series Vortex Tubes are used in special applications that require extreme cold temperatures such as circuit board testing and lab sample cooling. These Vortex Tubes provide the lowest cold air temperatures, but at reduced airflow (when less than 50% cold fraction is used). C Series Vortex Tubes should only be used when desired temperatures are below 0°F (-18°C).
|Size||Model No.||Air Consumption||BTU/Hr. @ 100 PSIG||Kcal/Hr. @ 6.9 BAR|
|Small||VT02C||2 SCFM (57 SLPM)||—||—|
|Small||VT04C||4 SCFM (113 SLPM)||—||—|
|Small||VT08C||8 SCFM (227 SLPM)||—||—|
|Medium||VT10C||10 SCFM (283 SLPM)||–||—|
|Medium||VT15C||15 SCFM (425 SLPM)||—||—|
|Medium||VT25C||25 SCFM (708 SLPM)||—||—|
|Medium||VT30C||30 SCFM (850 SLPM)||—||—|
|Medium||VT40C||40 SCFM (1133 SLPM)||—||—|
Other Vortex Tube Factors
Inlet Air Temperature
When the inlet air temperature is 76°F (24°C), our B Series Vortex Tube will reduce the temperature by approximately 42°C on the cold end, depending on the percentage of the cold fraction.
Low back pressure up to 2 PSIG (0.1 BAR) will not affect the performance of the Supreme Air Products™ Vortex Tube. Any pressure above 2 PSIG will affect the Vortex Tube performance negatively. As back pressure increases, the performance of the Vortex Tube decreases.
Filtration and Freezing
It is very important to maintain a clean and liquid-free air supply line. Supreme Air Products™ 5 micron Auto Drain Filters are ideal for compressed air lines because they remove dirt particles and water. If water enters a Vortex Tube, it will freeze and stop performing. When freezing occurs, all air flow to the vortex tube must be stopped to allow for thawing. Once it has thawed, the vortex tube can be operated normally again.
Noise and Muffling
Both small and medium Vortex Tubes can be quite noisy if un-ducted. Supreme Air Products™ offers mufflers for both cold and hot air discharge. Typically, unmuffled Vortex Tubes produce around 70 dB of sound. Mufflers can reduce the noise level by approximately 15 dB when used at both ends.
Vortex Tube Specifications
|20||63F | 35C||62F | 34C||60F | 33C||56F | 31C||51F | 28C||44F | 24C||36F | 20C||28F | 15C||17F | 9C|
|7F | 4C||15F | 8C||25F | 14C||36F | 20C||50F | 28C||64F | 36C||83F | 46C||107F | 59C||148F | 82C|
|40||91F | 51C||88F | 49C||85F | 47C||80F | 44C||73F | 41C||63F | 35C||52F | 28C||38F | 21C||26F | 14C|
|9F | 5C||21F | 11C||35F | 19C||52F | 29C||71F | 39C||92F | 51C||117F | 65C||147F | 82C||220F | 122C|
|60||107F | 59C||104F | 58C||100F | 56C||93F | 52C||84F | 47C||73F | 41C||60F | 33C||45F | 25C||29F | 16C|
|10F | 6C||24F | 13C||40F | 22C||59F | 33C||80F | 44C||104F | 58C||132F | 73C||168F | 93C||236F | 131C|
|80||119F | 66C||115F | 64C||110F | 61C||102F | 57C||92F | 51C||80F | 44C||66F | 36C||49F | 27C||31F | 17C|
|11F | 7C||25F | 14C||43F | 24C||63F | 35C||86F | 48C||113F | 63C||143F | 79C||181F | 101C||249F | 138C|
|100||127F | 71C||123F | 68C||118F | 66C||110F | 61C||99F | 55C||86F | 48C||71F | 39C||53F | 29C||33F | 18C|
|12F | 8C||26F | 14C||45F | 25C||67F | 37C||91F | 51C||119F | 66C||151F | 84C||192F | 107C||252F | 140C|
|120||133F | 74C||129F | 72C||124F | 69C||116F | 64C||104F | 58C||91F | 50C||74F | 41C||55F | 31C||34F | 19C|
|13F | 8C||27F | 14C||46F | 26C||69F | 38C||94F | 52C||123F | 68C||156F | 87C||195F | 108C||257F | 142C|
|The percentage of cold air produced versus total filtered compressed air consumed by vortex tube.|
|Pounds per Square Inch Gauge.|
|Drop in temperature.|
|Rise in temperature.|
Actual Vortex Tube Performance
Cold fraction is the “percentage of airflow” at the cold end. A 60% cold fraction means 60% of airflow is discharged at the cold end and 40% at the hot end.
The table above represents the B Series medium sized Vortex Tube with a 15 SCFM capacity. Performance can vary significantly at higher flow capacities. With that said, in most applications it is usually not imperative to achieve the lowest temperatures at the expense of cold airflow, therefore Vortex Tubes are pre-set to maintain an ideal balance between cold temperature and airflow.
Vortex tube FAQs
1. Can the Vortex Tube withstand back-pressure on the cold exhaust?
The performance is negatively impacted with back-pressure on the cold end exhaust. A Back-pressure of 5 PSIG will change performance by approximately 5°F. A low pressure up to 2 PSIG will not affect performance.
2. How does the Vortex Tube work?
Compressed air is injected into the vortex tube and flows at a rate of up to 1,000,000 RPM towards the ‘hot’ end of the tube. Once this hot air reaches the end, a small amount is exhausted through a control valve. The rest of the air is forced backwards towards the other end and exits as ‘cold’ air.
3. What is the Vortex Tube?
The Vortex Tube is a product of SUPREME AIR PRODUCTS™ Corp. Using compressed air as their only power source, cold air is produced on one end and hot air on the other. All this is done with no moving parts!
Cold air is typically used for spot cooling and refrigeration applications. The hot air can be used for spot heating applications, but the temperatures are not very high.
4. How long has the Vortex Tube been around?
The vortex tube was invented in 1933 by French physicist Georges J. Ranque. German physicist Rudolf Hilsch improved the design and published a widely read paper in 1947 on the device, which he called a Wirbelrohr (meaning whirl pipe).
In the past, the Vortex Tube has been known as the “Hilsch Tube”, the “Ranque Vortex Tube”, the “Maxwells’s Demon”, and the “Ranque-Hilsh Tube”. It’s a reliable, simple and low cost answer to various spot cooling problems within industrial plants.
5. Which Vortex Tube should I use?
SUPREME AIR PRODUCTS offers Small and Medium sized Vortex Tubes, each with a wide variety of cooling capacities. The Vortex Tube Generator Kits allow you to experiment with a variety of temperatures and air flows. We recommend you talk to a SUPREME AIR PRODUCTS™ Application Engineer, as they can aid you in selecting the appropriate Vortex Tube for your application.
6. Is there anything in the Vortex Tube that can wear out or need replacing?
No. There are no moving parts, it will never wear out. They may need cleaning from time to time if there is contamination within the air supply. The Vortex Tube is constructed of type 303 stainless steel, brass generators, and a brass control valve.
7. Where can the Vortex Tube be used?
The Vortex Tube is typically used in spot cooling applications. Use it to cool, mold, machine operations, hot parts, electronics, etc. The hot end could be used to heat glues, shrink wraps, or dry parts.
8. Can I use a Vortex Tube to cool my electrical enclosure instead of the Cabinet Panel Cooler?
Yes, however there are clear-cut advantages to using the SUPREME AIR PRODUCTS™ Cabinet Panel Cooler for this application.
- Cabinet Panel Coolers have a pressure release valve to allow warm air from the electrical enclosure to escape the cabinet.
- Cabinet Panel Coolers have been fine tuned to achieve maximum refrigeration; this cannot be adjusted. Vortex Tubes on the other hand can be adjusted by the user, leaving them open to poor operation and miss-adjustment.
- Cabinet Panel Coolers have been engineered to reduce noise levels drastically from that of the sole Vortex Tube.
9. Can I connect the cold end of a Vortex Tube to an Air Amplifier or Air Knife?
No. The Air Amplifier and Air Knife would both restrict the air flow of the Vortex Tube to the point where back-pressure would limit the cooling capacity of the Vortex Tube. The cold end of the Vortex Tube should not be subjected to a backpressure in excess of 5 PSIG.
10. Can I connect the hot end of a Vortex Tube to an Air Amplifier or Air Knife?
Yes. However, the hot end exhaust can only withstand pressure up to 30 PSIG (depending on the cold fraction). If backpressure exceeds 30 PSIG, then the performance of the Vortex Tube will deteriorate.
11. Why is the Vortex Tube Performance Chart important?
The Vortex Tube Performance Charts give approximate temperature drops (and rises) from inlet air temperature produced by a SUPREME AIR PRODUCTS Vortex Tube set at each various cold fraction. Assuming there is no fluctuation of inlet pressure or temperature, the Vortex Tube will reliably maintain temperature within ±1°F.
12. How can I tell what Cold Fraction my Vortex Tube is set to?
There are two ways to find out what Cold Fraction you are currently using on your SUPREME AIR PRODUCTS Vortex Tube.
(1) By using the Performance Data chart found under our Specifications tab on this page. You can measure the temperature of cold air exhausting and compare it to the chart. It’s important to note that the air temperature should be taken immediately out of the Vortex Tube as the airflow will quickly warm as it mixes with ambient air.
(2) An air flow meter can also be used to measure the volume of air both coming out of the unit and going into Vortex Tube. Then use these values and compare the cold or hot flow of the unit. By comparing the cold or hot flow rate to the total will give you accurate hot or cold fraction.
13. How is the SUPREME AIR PRODUCTS Vortex Tube rated?
The Vortex Tube is rated in BTU/Hr. based on inlet temperatures of 68F and pressure of 100 PSIG. Any change of temperature or pressure will affect the rating of the Vortex Tube. Please contact a SUPREME AIR PRODUCTS Application Engineer to determine the effect of pressure and/or temperate changes on the Vortex Tube’s rating.
Vortex tube applications
- Spot Cooling Or Heating on demand
- Cooling welded parts
- Cooling a saw blade
- Cooling Circuit Boards
- Cooling Sensors
- Cooling Liquid Tanks