Vortex Tube by Supreme Air Products

Vortex tube

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.

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?

    1. An air line is connected to the vortex tube through a standard male NPT thread
    2. Compressed air enters the vortex tube through the NPT inlet and is forced into the spin chamber by the vortex generator.
    3. The air stream spins at high speeds inside the spin chamber, which separates the hot and cold air due to their weight differential.
    4. Lighter hot air is pushed to the outer wall of the spin chamber, while heavier cold air remains in the center.
    5. The hot and cold air streams exit at opposite ends of the vortex tube
    6. 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.

Important Information

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.

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 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.

Back Pressure

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

PSIG Cold Fraction
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
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.

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.

  1. Cabinet Panel Coolers have a pressure release valve to allow warm air from the electrical enclosure to escape the cabinet.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

DIMENSIONS

Click below to download PDF drawings with dimensions of our Vortex Tubes

SMALL VORTEX TUBE
WITHOUT MUFFLER

SMALL VORTEX TUBE
WITH MUFFLER

MEDIUM VORTEX TUBE
WITHOUT MUFFLER

MEDIUM VORTEX TUBE
WITH MUFFLER

3D CAD FILES

Our 3D CAD files for Vortex Tubes are offered in 3 file formats available for download below.

2 SCFM (57 SLPM) Vortex Tube

4 SCFM (113 SLPM) Vortex Tube

8 SCFM (227 SLPM) Vortex Tube

10 SCFM (283 SLPM) Vortex Tube

15 SCFM (425 SLPM) Vortex Tube

25 SCFM (708 SLPM) Vortex Tube

30 SCFM (850 SLPM) Vortex Tube

40 SCFM (1133 SLPM) Vortex Tube

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Description

Vortex Tube is an effective, low cost and quick solution for many industrial spot cooling and heating needs. It’s powered entirely by compressed air, has no moving parts, and no dangerous refrigerants to leak out. Vortex tube spins the compressed air in the air chamber separating hot and cold air streams. The hot stream can get upwards of 190 F and the cold end can get down to -56 F.

Additional information

Material

303 Stainless, Aluminum

SeriesB

B – Maximum BTU Rating, C – Maximum Cold Temperature, Less BTU Rating

Flow

2 SCFM (57 SLPM), 4 SCFM (113 SLPM), 8 SCFM (227 SLPM), 10 SCFM (283 SLPM), 15 SCFM (425 SLPM), 25 SCFM (708 SLPM), 30 SCFM (850 SLPM), 40 SCFM (1133 SLPM), 50 SCFM, 75 SCFM, 100 SCFM, 150 SCFM

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