60 Years of Innovative Compressed Air Solutions

Innovation is a vital characteristic for any company to maintain success over 6 decades, and Vortec is no exception. Since 1961, Vortec has paved the way for expertly designed compressed air solutions to improve efficiency and increase productivity in manufacturing. A true pioneer, Vortec became the first company to develop technology for converting the vortex tube phenomenon into practical, effective industrial cooling solutions.

While Vortec’s cooling solutions did not come into play until 1961 to be used in the industrial sector, the true roots of this technology extend long before. The vortex tube was invented in 1933 by French scientist, Georges Ranque. Ranque discovered, that when fed compressed air, the device emits a stream of cold air from one end and hot air from the other. However, due to disinterest, the vortex tube phenomenon was almost completely forgotten. It wasn’t until 1947 that the vortex tube was revitalized thanks to Rudolf Hilsch. After studying this technology, Hilsch published his findings and stirred up so much interest that many believed he invented the device himself. It wasn’t until over a decade later that the vortex tube was used for practical use in industrial cooling solutions.

In 1961, a General Electric engineer by the name of Charles Darby Fulton, founded Fulton Cryogenics in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was here that the vortex tube phenomenon was finally used in practical cooling solutions. In 1962, the New York Central Railroad put the first vortex tube application to use when they equipped several hundred diesel locomotives with vortex tube-cooled drinking water coolers. The second application that utilized the vortex tube (that remains in use to this day) was personal cooling for workers in hot environments. Fulton Cryogenics excelled in finding suitable applications for their vortex tube technology to improve. In 1968, Fulton Cryogenics adopted the new name, Vortec Corporation.

Under this new company identity, Vortec began expanding their product line and improving the vortex tube technology. Through the next few decades, Vortec created many of their staple products that are still solving industrial application issues today. It was in this time frame that the Vortec Enclosure Coolers were developed to solve the need to keep electrical panels cool on plant floors. In 1985, Vortec began manufacturing additional compressed air products with the introduction of Air Amplifiers, Spray Vectors, and Transvectors.

With a new decade came new innovations and a new parent company. In 1990 Vortec Corporation was acquired by Illinois Tool Works and became the first company under what is now known as ITW Air Management. Around this same time, Vortec designed the Transvector Vacuum Pump and Hand-e-vac. The Transvector Vacuum Pump was the trailblazing design that is seen on the Vortec Drum Pump today. Throughout the remainder of the 20th century, Vortec continued to make improvements on their technology and continuously expanding product line.

As technology advanced over time, manufacturers were faced with the issue of their electronic controls becoming more compact and even more sensitive to heat and contamination. In 2006, Vortec applied their vortex tube technology to design the Vortex A/C Cooler. These innovative products were an extremely reliable and cost-friendly solution to alternative air conditioners for electrical enclosures, and were significantly quieter and easier to install than the older Vortex Cooler and Panel Guard products. With the successful application of the Vortex A/C Cooler, a new need was presented – Vortex A/C Coolers for hazardous locations. In 2012, Vortec’s Hazardous Location Enclosure Cooler received official UL Certification. This marked the first time the independent safety certification organization had given its seal of approval to enclosure cooler units designed specifically for hazardous locations. Over the next few years, Vortec continued to pioneer advancements to this line with the development of the ATEX Vortex A/C, the Electrical Vortex A/C, and the ProtEX Vortex A/C.

Vortec engineers continue to develop new improvements for customers to this day. The most recent product development was the re-design of the Vortex Cooling Vests to create a more comfortable and efficient design. Since origination in 1961, Vortec has pioneered vortex tube technology and worked to continuously improve and develop new products for industrial application needs. As we enter the fourth industrial revolution and the industrial manufacturing sector continues to grow, Vortec will strive to lead the way for another 60 years of innovating compressed air products. 

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