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What is a Vortex Tube?

A Vortex Tube is a mechanical device that divides compressed air into cold and hot streams. A Vortex Tube cooling technology offers a low-cost solution for a wide variety of industrial spot cooling and process cooling applications. It is also know as the Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube named after the french physicist Georges J. Ranque, whom designed the first vortex tube in 1931.

Vortex Tube

How Does A Vortex Tube Work?

Here is how a Vortex Tube works:

(A) Compressed air, normally 80 to 100 PSIG (5.5 – 6.9 BAR) enters the Vortex Tube through a standard NPTM inlet and tangentially through a generator into the vortex spin chamber.

(B) This air stream spinning at up to 1,000,000 RPM travels in one direction along the small (hot end) tube and then is forced back through the center of this outer vortex.

(C) The brass control valve on the hot end allows for quick n’ easy adjustment of the “cold fraction”; see specifications for what this means.

(D) As the center column travels towards the opposite end, it gives off kinetic energy in the form of heat to the outside stream of air and exits the vortex tube as cold air.

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What Types Of Vortex Tubes Does Streamtek Carry?

Our Vortex Tubes are available in two sizes (small and medium) as well as two material constructions (stainless steel and aluminum). Small Vortex Tubes have a capacity ranging from 2 SCFM to 8 SCFM and are available in stainless steel. Medium Vortex Tubes have a capacity ranging from 10 SCFM to 40 SCFM. They are available in both stainless steel and aluminum. Aluminum offers a cost saving option, while the durability of stainless steel, as well as its resistance to corrosion and oxidation, assures that Streamtek Vortex Tubes will provide years of reliable, maintenance free-operation.

Streamtek offers two models of Vortex Tube. 7500 Series Vortex Tubes are engineered to provide optimal temperature drop while maintaining strong air flow. 7700 Series Vortex Tubes are engineered to provide the maximum possible temperature drop while sacrificing some airflow. 7700 Series Vortex Tubes should only be used in special applications where the temperature requirement is below 20°C.

Vortex Tubes Pricing

Material

BTU rating

Air consumption

Small Vortex Tube

Stainless Steel

145 – 560 BTU/Hr.

2 SCFM – 8 SCFM

Medium Vortex Tube

Stainless Steel

700 – 2800 BTU/Hr.

10 SCFM – 40 SCFM

Aluminum Vortex Tube

Aluminum

700 – 2800 BTU/Hr.

10 SCFM – 40 SCFM

Vortex Tube Cooler Design

Our Vortex Tube design or also know as a Vortex Cooler, has the ability to enhance overall functionality of the equipment it is installed with. The assurance of quality and raw materials can be obtained only at Streamtek and we never let our customers go unsatisfied. The company maintains a huge inventory to serve its customers on time. The complete research in the field of vortex tubes allows Streamtek to have a well-defined, systematic approach. This satisfies customers and improves the client retention rate to a great extent. Feel free to get in touch with us and we shall be more than pleased to assist you.

What Are The Benefits Of A Vortex Tube?

With the finest technology and high-end practices, Streamtek offers the best Vortex Tube to watch out for. Made with the highest quality raw materials and extensive engineering, the product is efficient and powerful.

  • Reduces total cost of ownership
  • Enhances reliability and durability of equipment
  • Saves cost
  • Achieves optimal outcome
  • Improves productivity
  • Minimizes effort
  • Delivers high return on investment

Vortex Tube Efficiency and Cooling

Our Vortex Tube use solid brass generators as their standard generating unit for a longer life expectancy. In higher temperature environments, many competitors will charge an additional fee for this feature. Streamtek Vortex Tubes convert compressed air supply into cold airflow at one end (up to 46 °C – 115 °F temperature drop) and hot airflow at the other end (up to 93 °C – 200 °F temperature increase). They are typically used for spot cooling or spot heating, cooling electrical controls, gas samples, machining operations and more.

How To Select A Vortex Tube

When selecting the right vortex tube, it is important to consider the application of use. Achieving the coldest possible temperature does not always produce great results. The balance between optimal temperature and air flow is the most important factor. Not sure which cooling capacity is needed? Our vortex tubes have interchangeable capacity generators. Small vortex tubes interchange between 2, 4 and 8 SCFM while the medium vortex tubes interchange between 10,15, 25, 30, and 40 SCFM. That means one vortex tube can be used for different capacities simply by changing the capacity generator. Additional generators can be purchased in our Accessories section.

Noise/Muffling

Both small and medium Vortex Tubes operate at approximately 70 dB of noise, depending on size. We offer optional Cold End Mufflers which reduce the noise level by approximately 10 dB. Our Hot End Muffler reduces the noise level by approximately 4 dB. Please visit our Accessories section for optional mufflers.

Mounting

We offer optional Magnetic Base mounts for our Vortex Tubes. Please visit our Accessories section for more information.

Filtration

It is very important to maintain a clean and dry source of compressed air when operating a Vortex Tube. If water is present in the air lines, the Vortex Tube will freeze and its performance will be reduced. We recommend using a Streamtek 5-Micron Air Filter to remove dirt and moisture from air lines to maximize the performance of our Vortex Tubes. Please visit our Accessories section for filters.

Back Pressure

A low back pressure of up to 2 PSIG (0.1 BAR) will not affect the performance of the Streamtek Vortex Tube. However, any back pressure above this level will result in a performance reduction.

7500 Series Vortex Tube specifications

The 7500 series Vortex Tubes are used in most industrial applications such as: electrical control panel cooling, tool cooling, and parts cooling. These Vortex Tubes optimize airflow and temperature drop to produce maximum cooling power or Btu/hr. (Kcal/hr.).

SizeModel No.Air ConsumptionBTU/Hr. @ 100 PSIGWatts / Hr. @ 6.9 BAR
Small75022 SCFM (57 SLPM)145 BTU/Hr.43
Small75044 SCFM (113 SLPM)275 BTU/Hr.80
Small75088 SCFM (227 SLPM)560 BTU/Hr.164
Medium751010 SCFM (283 SLPM)700 BTU/Hr.204
Medium751515 SCFM (425 SLPM)1100 BTU/Hr.322
Medium752525 SCFM (708 SLPM)1800 BTU/Hr.528
Medium753030 SCFM (850 SLPM)2060 BTU/Hr.603
Medium754040 SCFM (1133 SLPM)2800 BTU/Hr.821

7700 Series Vortex Tube specifications

The 7700 series Vortex Tubes are used in applications that require extreme cold temperatures such as circuit board testing, and lab sample cooling. These Vortex Tubes provide the lowest cold air temperatures, but at a low cold airflow (when less than a 50% cold fraction is used). The 7700 services Vortex Tubes should only be used when temperatures are below 0° (-18°C).

SizeModel No.Air ConsumptionBTU/Hr. @ 100 PSIGWatts/Hr. @ 6.9 BAR
Small77022 SCFM (57 SLPM)
Small77044 SCFM (113 SLPM)
Small77088 SCFM (227 SLPM)
Medium771010 SCFM (283 SLPM)
Medium771515 SCFM (425 SLPM)
Medium772525 SCFM (708 SLPM)
Medium773030 SCFM (850 SLPM)
Medium774040 SCFM (1133 SLPM)

Vortex Tube Specifications

PSIGCold Fraction
10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%
2063F | 35C62F | 34C60F | 33C56F | 31C51F | 28C44F | 24C36F | 20C28F | 15C17F | 9C
7F | 4C15F | 8C25F | 14C36F | 20C50F | 28C64F | 36C83F | 46C107F | 59C148F | 82C
 
4091F | 51C88F | 49C85F | 47C80F | 44C73F | 41C63F | 35C52F | 28C38F | 21C26F | 14C
9F | 5C21F | 11C35F | 19C52F | 29C71F | 39C92F | 51C117F | 65C147F | 82C220F | 122C
 
60107F | 59C104F | 58C100F | 56C93F | 52C84F | 47C73F | 41C60F | 33C45F | 25C29F | 16C
10F | 6C24F | 13C40F | 22C59F | 33C80F | 44C104F | 58C132F | 73C168F | 93C236F | 131C
 
80119F | 66C115F | 64C110F | 61C102F | 57C92F | 51C80F | 44C66F | 36C49F | 27C31F | 17C
11F | 7C25F | 14C43F | 24C63F | 35C86F | 48C113F | 63C143F | 79C181F | 101C249F | 138C
 
100127F | 71C123F | 68C118F | 66C110F | 61C99F | 55C86F | 48C71F | 39C53F | 29C33F | 18C
12F | 8C26F | 14C45F | 25C67F | 37C91F | 51C119F | 66C151F | 84C192F | 107C252F | 140C
 
120133F | 74C129F | 72C124F | 69C116F | 64C104F | 58C91F | 50C74F | 41C55F | 31C34F | 19C
13F | 8C27F | 14C46F | 26C69F | 38C94F | 52C123F | 68C156F | 87C195F | 108C257F | 142C
 

The percentage of cold air produced versus total filtered compressed air consumed by vortex tube.

 

Pounds per Square Inch Gauge.

 

Drop in temperature.

 

Rise in temperature.

Vortex Tube Performance Data

The cold fraction is the “percentage flow” of airflow at the cold end. So a 60% cold fraction means 60% of airflow comes out cold end and 40% goes out the hot end.

The above table is for the 7500 Series (10-15 SCFM) Medium sized Vortex Tubes. The performance can significantly change for higher flow designs. With that said, it’s not generally important to get such “low” temperatures and in most applications, the Vortex Tube is “preset” to produce a specific temperature drop.

The cold fraction table above is ONLY for the Streamtek 7500 Series Generators, or as some competitors like to call (‘H’ Generators). The 7700 Series Vortex Tube (‘C’ Generators), produce very cold temperatures but with a lower cold end flow. The 7700 Generators are not designed for high BTU/Hr (or watt) cooling effect.

Temperature drops and the cold end airflow vary inversely as the “cold fraction” changes. The cooling effect is a balance and combination of both outlet flow and temperature drop. Colder temperatures do NOT always mean the absolute highest cooling effect will be produced.

Vortex Tube Industrial Applications

Streamtek Vortex Tube products use innovative compressed air technologies to improve productivity, increase equipment efficiency and deliver enclosure and spot cooling, conveying, and blow-off. If you don’t find a solution and/or idea for your application, or if you want additional details, call our factory at 1-705-770-4455 or email an Application Engineer at support@stream-tek.com.

Applications

  • Cooling electronic controls
  • Cooling machining operations
  • Setting hot melts
  • Cooling soldered parts
  • Cooling gas samples
  • Electronic component cooling
  • Cooling heat seals
  • Cooling environmental chambers

Advantages

  • Maintenance free (No moving parts)
  • Cools without costly electricity or refrigerants
  • Reliable, compact and lightweight
  • Low cost application
  • Durable – Stainless Steel
  • Adjustable temperature
  • Instant cold air

Vortex Tube Dimensions

NO Cheap Plastic parts here! Both the Generator and Control Valve are solid Brass. You choose between a Stainless Steel and Aluminum Vortex Tube.

Small and lightweight – portable.

Easily adjust temperatures with a simple flat-head screwdriver.

Small Vortex Tube / With Muffler

Small Vortex Tube / Without Muffler

Medium Vortex Tube / With Muffler

Medium Vortex Tube / Without Muffler

Vortex Tube FAQS

The performance is negatively impacted with back-pressure on the cold end exhaust. A Back-pressure of 5 PSIG will change performance by approximately 5°F. A low pressure up to 2 PSIG will not affect performance.

The vortex tube was invented in 1933 by French physicist Georges J. Ranque and German physicist Rudolf Hilsch improved the design and published a widely read paper in 1947 on the device, which he called a Wirbelrohr (literally, whirl pipe).

The Vortex Tube has been known as the “Hilsch Tube”, the “Ranque Vortex Tube”, the “Maxwells’s Demon, and the “Ranque-Hilsh Tube”. It’s a reliable, simple and low cost answer to various spot cooling problems within industrial plants.

Streamtek offers Small and Medium sized Vortex Tubes, each with a wide variety of cooling capacities. Vortex Tube Generator Kits allow you to experiment with a variety of temperatures and air flows. We recommend you talk to a Streamtek Application Engineer, as they can aid you in selecting the appropriate Vortex Tube for your application.

No. There are no moving parts, it will never wear out. They may need cleaning from time to time if there is contamination within the air supply. The Vortex Tube is constructed of type 303 stainless steel, brass generators, and a brass control valve.

The Vortex Tube is typically used in spot cooling applications. Use it to cool, molds, machining operations, hot parts, electronics, etc. The hot end could be used to heat glues, shrink wraps, or for drying parts.

No. The Air Amplifier and Air Knife would both restrict the air flow of the Vortex Tube to the point where back-pressure would limit the cooling capacity of the Vortex Tube. The cold end of the Vortex Tube should not be subjected to a backpressure in excess of 5 PSIG.

Yes. However, the hot end exhaust can only withstand pressure up to 30 PSIG (depending on the cold fraction). If backpressure exceeds 30 PSIG, then the performance of the Vortex Tube will deteriorate.

The Vortex Tube Performance Charts give approximate temperature drops (and rises) from inlet air temperature produced by a Streamtek Vortex Tube set at each various cold fraction. Assuming there is no fluctuation of inlet pressure or temperature, the Vortex Tube will reliably maintain temperature within ±1°F.

There two ways to find out what Cold Fraction you are currently using on your Streamtek Vortex Tube.

(1) By using the Performance Data chart found here. You can measure the temperature of cold air exhausting and compare it to the chart. It’s important to note that the air temperature should be taken immediately out of the Vortex Tube as the airflow will quickly warm as it mixes with ambient air.

(2) An air flow meter can also be used to measure the volume of air both coming out of the unit and going into Vortex Tube. Then use these values and compare the cold or hot flow of the unit. By comparing the cold or hot flow rate to the total will give you accurate hot or cold fractions.

The Vortex Tube is rated in BTU/Hr. based on inlet temperatures of 68F and pressure of 100 PSIG. Any change of temperature or pressure will affect the rating of the Vortex Tube. Please contact as Streamtek Application Engineer to determine the effect of pressure and/or temperate changes on the Vortex Tube’s rating.

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History of the Vortex Tube

Georges J. Ranque, a French physicist, designed the vortex tube in 1931. In 1934, Paul Dirac rediscovered it while looking for a mechanism to achieve isotope separation (see Helikon vortex separation procedure). Rudolf Hilsch, a German physicist, modified the concept and published a widely read paper on the device, which he dubbed a Wirbelrohr, in 1947. (literally, whirl pipe). Westley released a comprehensive analysis of the vortex tube in 1954, titled “A bibliography and survey of the vortex tube,” with over 100 sources. Curley and McGree, Kalvinskas, Dobratz, Nash, and Hellyar contributed to the RHVT literature with thorough reviews of the vortex tube and its uses in 1951, 1956, 1964, and 1979. C. Darby Fulton, Jr. received four US patents relating to the creation of the vortex tube between 1952 and 1963. Fulton Cryogenics, a subsidiary of Fulton, began producing the vortex tube in 1961. Vortec, Inc. bought the company from Dr. Fulton. Linderstrom-Lang invented the vortex tube in 1967 to separate gas mixtures such as oxygen and nitrogen, carbon dioxide and helium, and carbon dioxide and air. Hsueh and Swenson revealed that vortex tubes can function with liquids to some extent in a laboratory experiment where free body rotation occurs from the core and a thick boundary layer at the wall. The air is divided, resulting in a colder air stream flowing out of the exhaust, which is intended to chill as if it were a refrigerator. R. T. Balmer used liquid water as the working medium in 1988. When the inlet pressure is high, such as 20-50 bar, it was discovered that the heat energy separation process occurs in incompressible (liquids) vortex flow as well. This separation is only due to heating; there is no longer any cooling because cooling requires the working fluid to be compressible.