What Color is Your Silica Gel?
I recently received an email from someone, named “Pinkie,” who uses color indicating silica gel in air breathers for the Power Transformer Industry. Pinkie has eight transformers and was not happy with the quality from their current silica gel supplier saying product “change outs occur too frequently.” When I asked which type of silica gel was being used in the air breathers, Pinkie replied, “the pink kind.”
The great thing about color indicating silica gel is that the user can physically see the silica gel working as it changes color from a deep blue to a translucent pink as adsorption capacity is reached. So, when Pinkie mentioned they used “the pink kind,” I replied to clarify that the customer was looking for blue silica gel (sometimes known as purple silica gel).
Pinkie responded, claiming to have “never heard of blue silica gel before, only a pink indicating silica gel,” which had “always been received as a dark pink color that would later change to a light pink color.” A concurrent complaint from Pinkie was that their currently supplier often had small tears and holes in the packaging.
I realized at that moment that Pinkie had never seen blue silica gel in its fully desorbed beauty. All the material had jeopardized packaging, which exposed the desiccant to open air and began adsorbing moisture before ever being put into the transformer breather system. Since the material had already lost a lot of adsorption capacity, there was little doubt why the customer was having to change out the product so frequently.
To prevent these types of occurrences in the future, always keep in mind that having a quality supplier is important. I’ve created the graphic below to help explain that pink silica gel should arrive as a deep blue color and will only turn pink once adsorption capacity has been reached. With a better understanding of the material, Pinkie is changing out the adsorbent much less frequently. Know your product and beware of tears!