What is the Functionality of the Drain Valve?
Within the engine of an aircraft, fuel and air mixtures are regularly combusted to create thrust for the means of propulsion generation and driving systems. As a rotary screw or reciprocating air compressor conducts its operations, water vapor is an unwanted byproduct that is produced as a result. As vapor condenses into liquid and begins collecting within the tank, damage to the compressor can result and possibly lead to high amounts of maintenance or replacement. Due to the hazards presented by liquids, manufacturers specifically design such assemblies with a component known as a drain valve which ensures the removal of collected water vapor.
As air inherently holds a large amount of vapor in its natural state, the standard compression procedures conducted within the engine will cause molecules to collect enough to enter a liquid state over time. As is with many materials regularly used for aircraft construction, the longstanding presence of moisture can quickly lead to corrosion taking hold. If such issues are left unmitigated or untreated, corrosion can spread and highly damage the compressor, rendering it inoperable over time.
Situated at the bottom of the air receiver within the compressor assembly, the drain valve is implemented to ensure that moisture is removed regularly so that corrosion is avoided. As is with countless other valve types such as the oil drain valve, the aircraft drain valve can be governed through various means so that its open and closed positioning is controlled as needed. Beyond the installation of a reservoir tank body drain valve, such components may also benefit other compressor parts and equipment pieces for moisture removal.
Within the aviation industry, there are many types of air compressor drain valves available to consumers, though the three most common are the float-operated, timer-controlled, and zero-loss types. The float-operated drain valve is one in which water is directed into the housing of the component. As liquid collects within the tank, it will eventually reach a preset value that will actuate the drain due to a float trigger. As the drain opens wide, the water that was flowing through the housing will begin to drain out until an acceptable range of fluids is reached again. With the timer-controlled type, the opening and closing of the valve is based on set intervals, rather than a mechanical component. As such, the timer-controlled valve is most beneficial for engines that are highly regulated. Lastly, the zero-loss drain valve is somewhat similar to the float-operated type, albeit the mechanism for water measurement is a sensor probe. As water levels surpass a specific level, the probe relays a signal to a solenoid, forcing the drain open. Unlike other types, the zero-loss drain valve is specifically designed to expel water until compressed air is about to be released.
With each of the aforementioned drain valve types, operations are conducted automatically for the ease of the pilot. The choice between drain valve aircraft components will often result from various situational factors, such as whether or not the compressor is near an electrical source or requires regular scheduled draining for optimal performance. By factoring in aircraft requirements, budget constraints, and personal preferences, the choice can be made much easier.
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