Pneumatic systems & components

Oil-free beer and wine processing

First Quarter 2024 Pneumatic systems & components Hydraulic systems & components

The food and beverage industry depends on superior quality, 100% oil-free compressed air to eliminate the presence of unwanted oil vapour throughout the production line. “If one drop of oil can contaminate 100 litres of fresh water, just imagine the potential harm that the ingress of oil vapours during food and beverage processing can cause to equipment, systems and end-products,” says Integrated Air Solutions regional sales manager, Daryn Jack. Compressed air specialist, Integrated Air Solutions, is the exclusive regional sales and service partner for global air compressor manufacturing giant, ELGi. Renowned for its quality AB and OF oil-free compressor series, ELGi is one of the very few compressor companies able to design and manufacture oil-free air-ends, a result of its in-house oil-free technology.

Nitrogen blanketing and bottling are two primary oil-free compressed air applications in the winery, brewery and distillery sectors. ELGi’s AB and OF series are used by some of the world’s leading wine producing countries. At one of France’s largest privately-owned wineries, two ELGi AB series units produce certified Class Zero 100% oil-free compressed air to support the sustainable production of over 800 000 bottles of premium organic wine. The unmatched air quality and consistency of the AB series, which meet ISO 8573-1 Class Zero oil standards and ISO8573-7 compliance norms, ensure zero traces of microbial contaminants in the wine.

Jack points out that alongside the need for quality oil-free compressed air, end users also require reliable air delivery to ensure maximum plant uptime and uninterrupted production. Heeding this need, ELGi has developed Class Zero ISO 8573-1, with uptime assurance to offer a dual compressed air advantage to its customers.

He explains that the materials and processes employed within the entire air and water paths of these compressors are approved for food-grade applications. A food-grade coating is applied wherever air comes into contact with internal metal surfaces, for consistent oil-free air delivery without metal debris. Multiple sealing solutions further ensure 100% security against oil entering the chamber. Pipes also feature a special e-coating.

The philosophy of uptime assurance is embodied in every component of the oil-free ELGi machine, from design and manufacturing to quality testing. Quality manufacturing materials and optimised rotor clearances ensure ruggedness and long life under wide ambient conditions. Additionally, stainless steel rotors and hard anodised aluminium housings with stainless steel inserts in the bearing location help to eliminate corrosion. Stainless steel oil tubing further enhances reliability, and non-contact of the rotors extends air-end life.

These smart ELGi compressors apply intelligent control to ensure consistent air quality and complete system reliability. They incorporate a dedicated PLC, which uses more than 15 safety interlocks that gather input from analogue and digital modules.

Further enhancing the efficiencies of the AB and OF Series is the ELGi CONSERVE variable frequency drive (VFD), which delivers substantial energy savings. VFD technology is ideal for compressed air systems with fluctuating demand patterns. The function of the VFD is to vary the motor speed to match the compressor output to air demand, thus reducing the compressor’s power consumption in line with the reduction in demand. Compared to a fixed speed compressor ,which operates on a load/unload band of at least 0,5 bar around the working pressure, the ELGi VFD compressor can be operated within a band of 0,1 bar.

The self-contained water-injected oil-free AB compressor series is available from 30 to 90 kW. The OF 45 to 450 kW series, available in single and two-stage options, features a rack and pinion capacity control system, requiring no maintenance for over one million cycles. The optimised component layout of these machines facilitates serviceability and reduces service time.

ELGi has successfully integrated advanced technology and class-leading features into a simple, compact compressor design. These compressors are ideal for sensitive applications typically found in sectors such as pharmaceutical, electronics and automotive, where the presence of oil vapour and moisture is not tolerated. “End users can look forward to an excellent return on their investment in an ELGi oil-free compressor thanks to the machine’s ultra-reliable delivery of oil-free air of consistent quality, high energy efficiency and low lifecycle costs,” concludes Jack.

For more information contact Cristina Straussner, Integrated Air Solutions, +27 11 894 2906,,

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