More about Desiccants
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Desiccants are drying agents that extract water from a wide range of materials. They are either soluble or insoluble substances that adsorb water due to their chemical properties. Examples include silica gel, bauxite, calcium sulfate and montmorillonite clay. Soluble agents include calcium chloride and glycerol. Molecular sieves, alumina and activated charcoal also make exceptional desiccants.
Desiccants are used to prevent humidity from damaging the contents of sealed packages. This is the reason that so many products include small packages of silica gel and similar materials. These desiccants can hold a large percentage of their weight in moisture, and will adsorb the great majority of humidity within the package. Desiccants also find use in industrial applications, such as humidity detection, waste removal and cleaning, and regenerative drying. Regenerative dryers send air to a molecular sieve (or other) desiccant bed, where the moisture is adsorbed. Later, this moisture is purged by sending heated air through the system; this lowers the moisture retention capabilities of the desiccant and forces it to release stored moisture into the heated air. Eventually, this moisture laden air is expelled and the regenerative dryer cycle is complete.
Desiccants come in a wide range of shapes, from perforated canisters containing silica gel to silica gel beads encased in specialized bags. Various substances, such as paper, cotton and Tyvek, are used as desiccant packaging material. Typically commercial desiccants of this nature will change color as they become full with water, thereby alerting the user that a new desiccant is required.
A number of manufacturers supply desiccant materials, in packaged or chemical form, to a variety of specifications. These products range from cat litter or to hazardous industrial materials. Desiccant suppliers should be consulted about the most economical and effective drying solution for any pertinent application, whether simple packaging or industrial drying.