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  • Hilsch vortex tube

    Now that scorching hot weather is soon to be upon those of us spending the summer in Phoenix, I remembered this old Scientific American article, about a device that intakes compressed air at the midsection of a length of pipe, and blows a hot jet out one end and a cold jet out the other. My living quarters are air-conditioned, but the garage is not.

    http://www.visi.com/~darus/hilsch/ mentions that some other Arizonans may have thought of this too. I wonder if they are members here. If so, I'm curious to know how the spiral chamber is formed. I suppose this is actually a job for hand-filing, but are there any suggestions as to how this might be machined?
    Last edited by aostling; 04-11-2007, 12:58 AM.
    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

  • #2
    This subject seems to come up every couple of years. If you do a search on "vortex tube" or "Hilsch" you'll find a few discussions. As far as the spiral chamber, I'd make it like someone helped me make a die. (Sorry I forgot who) That is make it in two pieces. It appears that two different bores could be put together to form the chamber.

    Edit- Pic added

    Last edited by CCWKen; 04-11-2007, 01:13 AM. Reason: Added Picture

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    • #3
      Originally posted by CCWKen
      This subject seems to come up every couple of years. If you do a search on "vortex tube" or "Hilsch" you'll find a few discussions.
      Ken,

      Thanks, I found the prior discussion (from 2003), which went for several pages.

      I confess I'm not thinking of making one of these just for the blast of cold air. Several of the other threads, about Stirling engines (built or contemplated) started me thinking about the importance of a regenerator, for proper efficiency. I'm musing on the idea of swirl flow in a regenerator, which triggered the memory of the vortex tube. I doubt if there is anything in this, but it's fun to let the mind run free.
      Allan Ostling

      Phoenix, Arizona

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      • #4
        Originally posted by CCWKen
        It appears that two different bores could be put together to form the chamber.

        Edit- Pic added

        I just saw your added pic. Quite ingenious!
        Allan Ostling

        Phoenix, Arizona

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        • #5
          I thought about this at one point, and started to work out the X-Y coordinates for machining a spiral as a series of small steps. Use, say, a 3/8" center-cutting end mill and figure out coordinates to plunge cut points along the spiral.
          ----------
          Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
          Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
          Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
          There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
          Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
          Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie

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          • #6
            Take a look over at www.itwvortec.com

            They make these commercially and though I haven't looked there for a long time they may have an interesting description.

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            • #7
              There probably isn't a less efficient way to generate cold or hot air than the Hilsch vortex tube. It takes large amounts of compressed air and makes a lot of noise to boot. It's an oddity with certain very limited applications where the horrible efficiency is worth the effect such as cooling instrumentation in hostile environments.

              Keep in mind that it isn't like Maxwell's Daemons in that the sorting job isn't done for free. The net output of a Hilsch tube is heat since it must always have two ends.
              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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              • #8
                I have to admit it sounds interesting but its also triggering my built in "efficiency meter" It just doesnt sound like something that could be built to come close to a direct mechanical system (like a compressor) -- still might have some aplications just for its simplicity and cheapness to build...

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                • #9
                  of course Evan beats me to it by two minutes

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ckelloug
                    Take a look over at www.itwvortec.com

                    They make these commercially and though I haven't looked there for a long time they may have an interesting description.

                    I just checked out the specs on thier A/C unit, very impressive even compaired to a standard refrigerent based unit, oddly enough though -- they have all the specs except efficiency ratings

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                    • #11
                      All you need to do is look at the air requirements. Their smallest unit, a sewing machine needle cooler, requires 4 scfm (!!!). A unit suitable for a tool bit is 15 scfm.
                      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                      • #12
                        You see these tubes at Boeing surplus from time to time. I didn't know what they were when I saw them, but they were pretty well made. I thought they may have been some kind of atomizer/sprayer. I'll be darned. They were $2.50 each if memory serves.

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                        • #13
                          Seeing that there are no moving parts and they can't wear out they must not have liked the performance.
                          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                          • #14
                            I dont know of too many aplications that really make sense but a good place to start would be where we are wasting compressed air and just blowing it off all the time or even occasionally, Big rig air brakes come to mind, but they are used infrequently, what whould you use a speratic heating or cooling effect for? what are the temp variations for extremely hot gasses? could their be benifits to running a ceramic one on the waste gate of turbo-chargers? could the varience be great enough to have some kind of "intercooler effect" for the incoming compressed charge? now there is something that granted will have a delay but comes on when youd want it to... unlikely though, with the temp of exhaust gasses being that extreme -------- you get the picture though ------ where are we just throwing away compressed gasses?

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                            • #15
                              Our Mechanical Engineering shop here at the University has a vortex air cooler and the guy in charge of the shop swears by it. The shop cannot justify coolant for most machining and a $200 item can be moved from machine to machine. It removes chips and keeps the tool cool. Add a bit of hand applied cutting fluid and you have the best of both worlds without a lot of water running over your machine tools.

                              My problem is that as a home shop type, even $200 is pricey. I think Iowolf mentioned once that he made one. I would love to see how its made as it would make a great project.

                              paul
                              Paul Carpenter
                              Mapleton, IL

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