Air power is needed in all types of industries from construction to food and beverage. In breweries, compressed air is used for operating a variety of applications in canning, bottling and kegging as well as processes like wort aeration. While oil-lubricated compressors have historically been used in breweries, using that same air for aeration or purging can have some serious effects on the beer. When compressed air is used in direct contact with mash, wort, beer, vessels or piping, trace amounts of oil can adversely affect the beer quality.
In these sensitive types of air operations, an oil-less compressor is especially beneficial for applications in which the air comes in direct contact with the ingredients. Even for applications where there is not direct contact between the ingredients and the air, like packaging or conveyors, it can be beneficial.
Ingersoll Rand just introduced a new range (1- to 15-hp) of oil-less air producers under a simple umbrella — IR’s Oil-Less Reciprocating Air Compressor. These oil-less units can go into a variety of industries from hospitals to water and waste management plants. This is how a craft brewery might utilize this clean air power:
- Aeration: introducing oxygen into the yeast cultures throughout the fermentation process
- Clarifying: pressure-driven centrifuges remove heavier solids for a cleaner, clearer final product
- Bottling/canning: compressed air moves beer from the conditioning tank to the bottle
- Cleanup/maintenance: compressed air powers pressure washers which help maintain a clean and safe operation
Clean air, clean beer
These IR oil-less reciprocating compressors utilize a design that has a completely dry crankcase to achieve its 100 percent oil-less specification. In lieu of oil for lubrication, sealed greased bearings yield up to 10,000 hours of oil-less operation. With the ability to reach a maximum pressure of up to 175 psi, the compressor can meet high-pressure equipment requirements.
The compressor comes as a completely packaged unit with an attached tank that stores compressed air that has already been generated so it’s immediately available when required. Tank storage is convenient and allows operators to avoid running the compressor for short, small bursts of air which could otherwise require a lot of energy. Stored air in the tank helps operators run the compressor less thus extending the life of the unit and saving energy.
With the familiar design of a reciprocating air compressor, the Ingersoll Rand Oil-Less Reciprocating Compressor is simple to install and maintain. It is capable of continuous-duty operation to handle sustained demand and long running hours. Due to its sealed bearing design, it requires low-maintenance and delivers excellent uptime rates.
There is no need for oil change-outs, which saves operators maintenance time. Additionally, the compressor is easily serviceable with its stainless-steel valves and long-lasting bearings.
These types of oil-free air compressors should be a goal for every craft brewery. If oil comes into contact with beer, it damages the beverage (killing yeast and flatting out that frothy head), making for a compromised product. Ensure your beer is pure, and investigate some oil-free options like these new units from Ingersoll-Rand.
The Oil-Less Reciprocating Compressor is available in eight nominal horsepower ratings:
Single stage at 100 psi
Two-stage at 175 psi