Vortec recently received a call from one of our loyal customers inquiring about our vortex tubes. They were curious to see how long vortex tubes lasted before they should consider replacing them. Naturally, this peaked my interest, “Well hypothetically they should last forever if they are properly maintained. Why, how long have you had one?” Turns out, they have had one of our vortex tubes for over 45 years! Mind you, we were founded in 1961 (56 years ago) so this wasn’t the first vortex tube we ever built, but it’s not far off.
The customer called to make sure that it was still working effectively. Intrigued, I offered to send them a new one so we could examine the 45-year-old vortex tube to test the quality and efficiency. When our R&D team and I looked at it in our Vortec Quality and Efficiency lab, it worked perfectly!
It may look a little worn and outdated, but everything within the tube was working perfectly. So why is it that vortex tubes can last so long?
Vortex tubes are designed and built to last. With no moving parts, it eliminates the normal wear and tear that you get from most equipment. They are optimized to provide the maximum efficiency available within the tube. Each vortex tube has a fixed flow rate and ideal opening for every cold fraction. There are two modes of operation: either maximum refrigeration (having about a 70% cold fraction) or lowest possible cold temperature (occurring at about 20% cold fraction).
The secret to maintaining the efficiency of a vortex tube is, air quality. If dirty, oily or wet compressed air is supplied into the vortex tube, you will get the same quality of air out. Not only does this effect the performance of the vortex tube, but it will also decrease the life of the tube. Poor air quality can begin to wear down, or clog, the generator inside the vortex tube. This affects the circulation and air flow inside the tube, and will not only decrease the air pressure, but will also decrease the cooling temperatures that are expected.
So, the fact that this vortex tube lasted over 45 years isn’t just due to its design but also the quality of clean air that the customer used to keep it at tip top performance. This is why we recommend that you constantly monitor your air quality and always filter your compressed air. This ensures that you can extend the life of all your products.
Have you seen a vortex tube that is older than 45 years and is still working perfectly?