Compressed air is air that comes from the atmosphere. Its compressibility is exploited by using a pneumatic device.

It is commonly used as an energy source, but also as active air. One thing is certain: compressed air is used in many fields. But did you know that this product which is usually contained in canisters is not always breathable?

Indeed, there is what is simply called compressed air and breathable compressed air. In this article, we are going to tell you in detail about what breathable compressed air is, how it works and its different uses.

What is compressed breathing air?

Compressed breathable air is compressed air that has undergone a purification process in order to become healthy and fully breathable. Contrary to what we may think, the compressed air contained in oxygen cylinders cannot always be directly breathed.

Indeed, most of the time, it very often contains various more or less harmful agents that we will see below, and that must first be eliminated in order to be qualified as “breathable”. For this, it will go through a stage of purification before being relaxed at low pressure and then becoming clean for breathing.

Then you have to make a distinction between industrial breathing air and medical breathing air:

  • Industrial breathing air is used in the diving and industrial sector to provide workers with a healthy breathing device in hazardous areas such as paint rooms or in hazardous areas. high content of harmful gas;
  • Medical breathing air, as its name suggests, is reserved solely for the medical field. It is used on patients and in sterilized rooms. Here, the purification process is even stricter than in the case of industrial breathing air.

What are the agents to remove from conventional compressed air?

As we just mentioned, compressed air is not always breathable. The reason is that this air can contain different harmful agents, pathogens or allergens that would cause health problems to those who breathe it in the long term. Here is a list of harmful agents that are commonly present in compressed air:

  • Biological agents: these are bacteria and different micro-organisms;
  • Dust: it can be present in fine particles in compressed air and can be harmful to health;
  • Noble Gases: The most common noble gases found in ambient air are argon and helium. Although they are not directly dangerous, they can cause the oxygen level in the air to drop significantly;
  • Chemical substances: these are the various fine chemical agents suspended in the air from, in particular, pesticides or cosmetic products;
  • Particles in smoke: including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and others;
  • Aerosols: These are fine droplets formed through a process of condensation and atomization;
  • Asbestos: this substance is very present in the building materials of old houses and once released, it is suspended in the air and can be easily inhaled, causing serious respiratory problems in the long term ;
  • Lead: Lead can also be present in the air and can cause severe damage to the body.

How do I get breathable compressed air?

A very specific process is in place to obtain breathable compressed air.

How is air compressed?

The air is first compressed using a compressor. This device will suck in the ambient air via a suction valve and it will be compressed until it reaches a required volume. It is then released into a storage tank through a discharge valve. This compression process is ensured by an electric motor present in the compressor.

During the compression process, air can be moved in two ways:

  • By a positive displacement system: This is the most common compression solution. The positive displacement or positive displacement compressor will force air into a narrow space, usually through the movement of a mechanical device;
  • By a dynamic displacement system: unlike a compressor that physically reduces the volume of air drawn in, the dynamic compressor will dramatically increase air velocity. The energy thus generated will increase the air pressure.

How is air purified?

The air purification process involves the use of a filtration system. This device will make it possible to clean up and improve the quality of the air. There are a multitude of different filtration systems with filters to retain the finest particles possible depending on the expectations for air quality and purity. Once the purification process is finalized, the compressed air becomes breathable.

Check the quality of breathable compressed air with us

As mentioned above, breathable compressed air can be used by workers in the industrial sector. It is particularly useful in sandblasting or painting workshops. In this context, it must comply with the CSA Z180.1-00 standard. In all cases, samples and analyzes must be carried out every 6 months to guarantee the quality of the breathable compressed air.

At Benjel, we can take care of these regular direct debits. You can even ask us to carry out a complete evaluation of your system, whatever the industrial sector in which you work.