Aftercoolers are heat exchangers for cooling the discharge from a compressor. They use either air or water and are an effective means of removing moisture from compressed air. Aftercoolers control the amount of water vapor in a compressed air system by condensing the water vapor into liquid form. In a distribution or process manufacturing system, liquid water can cause significant damage to the equipment that uses compressed air. An aftercooler is necessary to ensure the proper functioning of pneumatic or air handling devices that are part of process manufacturing systems.
Aftercoolers can use either air-cooled or water-cooled mechanisms. A compressor aftercooler may be a stand-alone unit located downstream of the compressor, or may be integrated into the compressor itself. Water-cooled aftercoolers or heat exchangers are fitted into a pipeline and use a moisture separator and drain valve to extract the water from the compressed air moving through the pipe. The moisture separator uses centrifugal force to separate out the moisture and solids from the compressed air and they exit the system through a drain. An air-cooled heat exchanger uses ambient air to cool hot compressed air. An air cooled heat exchanger use a motor-driven fan to force the ambient air over the cooler, removing the heat from the compressed air.
Aftercoolers are an important component in any system that uses compressed air. Compressed air is very hot and may pose a fire hazard to downstream equipment. Aftercoolers are also important for cooling a supercharged engine. A Vortech aftercooler is a popular, proprietary type of air to water aftercooler used in cars and trucks to reduce the temperature of forced induction air in a supercharged engine. Products are specified by car make and model. They fit factory-installed manifolds or custom equipment. Some products meet guidelines from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).