Stainless Steel Vortex Tubes at work

How does a Vortex Tube work?

How CAN you get cold air and hot air from one compressed-air stream? Lots of people have tried to explain it, including the French physicist who invented the Vortex Tube in the 1930's, Georges Ranque. Many different theories have been put forward. If you'd like to see the latest thermodynamic background on Vortex Tubes, call for our free technical bulletin.

Vortex Tubes behave in a very predictable and controllable way. When compressed air is released into the tube through the vortex generator, you get hot air out of one end of the tube and cold air out the other. A small valve in the hot end, adjustable with the handy control knob, lets you adjust the volume and temperature of air released from the cold end.

The vortex generator - an interchangeable, stationary part - regulates the volume of compressed air, allowing you to alter the air flows and temperature ranges you can produce with the tube.

"Cold Fraction": an important term for understanding Vortex Tube performance

"Cold Fraction" is the percentage of input compressed air that's released through the cold end of the tube. As a rule of thumb, the less cold air you release, the colder the air will be. You adjust the cold fraction with the control knob.

Cold fraction is also a function of the type of vortex generator that's in the tube, i.e., a "high cold fraction" or "low cold fraction" generator.

Most industrial process applications use a high cold fraction (above 50%). A high cold fraction tube can easily give you cold outputs 50-90F (28-50C) BELOW your compressed air temperature.

High cold fractions give you a greater air flow, but they don't give the lowest possible temperatures. The high cold fraction combination of airflow and cold temperature produces the maximum refrigeration capacity, or greatest Btu/H (Kcal/H).

A low cold fraction (below 50%) means a smaller volume of air coming out that's very cold (down to -40F/-40C). In short, the less air you release, the colder the air.

Just remember, your maximum Btu/H (Kcal/H) capacity (also called maximum cooling or refrigeration) occurs with a high cold fraction tube.

Two tubes, eight levels of performance

ARTX's modular design vortex tube gives you eight ranges of performance from a single tube, simply by changing the one-piece vortex generator. Both high and low cold-fraction generators are available for 10, 15, 25 and 35 SCFM (280, 420, 700, 990 SLPM) input flows. You can purchase vortex generators individually or in a kit that includes all sizes.

Other accessories include hot- and cold-end mufflers, air filters, regulators, thermostats and solenoid valves.

Application Ideas for Vortex Tubes

 1998,1999,2000,2001. ARTX, Ltd.