The Huge Impact of Laminar Flow

Laminar flow is an integral component of compressed air efficiency.


Believe it or not, laminar flow is controlled solely by the airline used in a compressed air system. To fully understand the effects of laminar flow in a compressed air system, we need to explain exactly what it is.

Fluids & gases are unique in their ability to travel. Unlike solid molecules that remain stationary whose molecules tend to join others of the same kind, fluid molecules aren’t so picky. Fluid molecules, such as gases and liquids, partner with different molecules and are difficult to stop.

Candle Smoke Laminar FlowLaminar flow describes the ease with which these fluids travel; good laminar flow describes fluid traveling as straight as possible. On the contrary, when fluid is not traveling straight, the result is turbulence, or a reduction in laminar flow. This is depicted in the image on the right; as the smoke comes off the candle, it is smooth and straight (this would be considered perfect laminar flow). As it travels away, the molecules display imperfect laminar flow.

Turbulent air flow essentially results in an inefficient compressed air system. This may not seem like a major concern; however, it has huge impacts on compressor efficiency. Fluid molecules bounce and circle within their path, causing huge energy wastage. In compressed air systems, this turbulent airflow results in pressure drop. How do you avoid this from happening? It all comes down to compressed air system design.

The design and material of the air pipe, as well as the positioning of elbows and joints, has a direct correlation to laminar flow and pressure drop. To avoid high energy consumption of your compressed air system, reducing pressure drop is key.

If your system is experiencing high pressure drop, your compressor has to work overtime to provide the required air pressure. When your compressor works overtime, it not only increases your maintenance costs, but also your energy bills.

Laminar flow works in conjunction with the “boundary layer”; this is the very first layer of compressed air that touches the wall of the pipe. Through the use of Infinity fittings, such as the Infinity Reducing tee, the air can travel down the dropper with ease, creating a smooth transition without disruption to the laminar flow.



NPS can perform post installation tests on your compressed air system, such as air audits and compressed air efficiency reports. For more information or to speak with our experienced technicians, call us on 1300 290 638 or click here!




Compressed Air Safety Tips

Compressed air can be extremely dangerous if not used in a safe manner.


To reduce the risk of injury, it is recommended that the following guidelines are considered and implemented:

1. Never apply compressed air to the skin or direct it at a person

Even air at a pressure of 15 psi can cause serious injury. Never use a compressed air hose to clean dirt or dust from your clothing or body.

2. When using compressed air for cleaning purposes, ensure pressure does not exceed 30 psi (per OSHA regulations)

Always use goggles or a face shield over approved safety glasses for this application.

3. Wear ear protection

Exposure to excessive noise can damage hearing. Noise reducing mufflers can be fitted to machines to lessen the noise health hazard.

4. Never crimp, couple, or uncouple pressurized hose

Shut off valves and bleed down pressure before making any hose connections.

5. Use heavy duty clamps and fittings made especially for compressed air hose

Use only the correct type and size of hose end fittings and connectors.

6. Never use frayed, damaged or deteriorated hoses

Always store hoses properly and away from direct sunlight. A hose failure can cause serious injury. Hose reels can decrease your chances of injury, as well as help hoses last longer.

7. When blowing compressed air through a hose or airline, ensure open end is held securely

A free end can whip and can cause injury. Open the supply valve carefully and ensure that any ejected particles are restrained. A blocked hose can become a dangerous “air gun”.

8. Keep compressors regularly serviced

Keeping up to date with your compressor’s servicing schedule ensures air quality is controlled, and reduces the risk of over pressure, and component failure.

9. Do not use air directly from a compressor for breathing purposes

Only do so if the system has been specifically designed for such purpose, and suitable breathing air filters and regulators are in place.

10. Isolating valves should be of the self venting type and designed to be locking in the “off” position

This ensures that air pressure cannot be applied accidentally while the machine is being worked on.




Would you like more information on compressed air safety? Contact our friendly team here!