Air Oil Separator vs. Catch Can: What You Need to Know

Air Oil Separator vs. Catch Can: What You Need to Know

When it comes to keeping your car’s engine running smoothly and efficiently, there are a few important components that play a crucial role. Two of these components are the air oil separator and the catch can.

These devices are designed to separate oil from air in the engine and prevent it from contaminating other parts of the vehicle. But which one is better for your car? In this article, we will discuss the key differences between air oil separators and catch cans and what you need to know to make an informed decision for your vehicle.

Air Oil Separator (AOS)

Air Oil Separator (AOS)

An air oil separator (AOS) is a device used to separate air and oil from a mixture of air, oil, and other fluids. It is commonly used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing to remove oil from the compressed air systems.

The primary function of an AOS is to remove the oil from the compressed air system. As air is compressed, it also carries with it any oil that may be present in the system, such as lubricants or condensate. This oil can cause damage to the equipment and result in decreased efficiency and performance. AOS eliminates this issue by separating the oil from the compressed air and returning it to the lubrication system.

There are two main types of AOS: coalescing and centrifugal. The coalescing type uses a filter to capture the oil droplets as the air passes through. The filter is made up of layers of a fine material, such as fiberglass, that captures the oil droplets and allows only the air to pass through. The separated oil then collects in a sump and is returned to the lubrication system.

On the other hand, the centrifugal type uses centrifugal force to separate air and oil. The mixture is sent through a rotating element that separates the heavier oil from the lighter air. The oil then collects in a sump and is drained back to the lubrication system.

Some AOS also come equipped with a condensate drain to remove any trapped water from the system. Water can also cause damage to the equipment and can lead to corrosion and rust. The condensate drain releases this water from the system, ensuring the compressed air is dry and free from any contaminants.

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In addition to removing oil and water, AOS also helps to improve the overall air quality by removing any particles or contaminants that may be present in the compressed air system. This ensures that the air used in the equipment or processes is clean and free from any impurities that could affect performance.

AOS is a crucial component in many mechanical systems, especially in industries where compressed air is used extensively. It helps to protect the equipment and ensure its smooth operation while also improving overall air quality. Regular maintenance and proper installation of AOS can significantly extend the life of machinery and prevent costly repairs.

Oil Catch Can

Oil Catch Can

An oil catch can, also known as a catch can or oil separator, is a device used to remove oil and other contaminants from the crankcase ventilation system of an internal combustion engine. It is commonly used in high-performance vehicles, but can also be beneficial for everyday cars.

The purpose of an oil catch can is to prevent oil vapors and other pollutants from entering the intake system of the engine. These oil vapors can build up in the intake system and can cause a decrease in engine performance, reduced fuel efficiency, and potential damage to engine components. Additionally, the oil vapors can contribute to carbon buildup and increase the chance of engine knock, which can lead to costly repairs.

The oil catch can works by intercepting the crankcase gases that normally travel back into the engine. It separates the oil vapors and other contaminants, such as water vapor and unburned fuel, from the air and collects them in a reservoir. The clean air then recirculates back into the engine, while the oil and other contaminants are stored in the catch can.

There are two main types of oil catch cans: baffled and non-baffled. Baffled catch cans use a series of plates or screens to separate the oil from the air, while non-baffled catch cans rely on gravity to separate the oil from the air. Baffled catch cans are generally more effective at removing contaminants, but they can also restrict airflow and reduce engine performance. Non-baffled catch cans may have higher flow rates, but they may not be as effective at capturing smaller particles.

Oil catch cans come in various sizes and shapes, but they are typically small and can be easily installed in most engines. Some catch cans are designed to be universal and can be mounted in any car, while others are designed specifically for certain makes and models.

Regularly maintaining and emptying the oil catch can is crucial for its effectiveness. The frequency of maintenance will depend on the driving habits and conditions, but the reservoir should be checked and emptied every few thousand miles.

What Is the Main Difference Between a Catch Can and Air Oil Separator?

What Is the Main Difference Between a Catch Can and Air Oil Separator?

A catch can and an air oil separator are two types of automotive systems that serve a similar purpose – to remove oil and other contaminants from the crankcase ventilation system. In this article, we will explain the main differences between these two systems and their functions.

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What is a Catch Can?

A catch can, also known as an oil catch can, is a simple device designed to catch and trap oil, fuel, and other contaminants that are produced by the engine. It is typically installed between the crankcase ventilation system and the intake system of the engine. The catch can consists of an inlet, outlet, and a chamber filled with metal or foam filtering material that captures the oil and other contaminants.

How Does a Catch Can Work?

The catch can works by directing the crankcase gases from the engine into the chamber, where they are forced to flow through a mesh or filtering material. The mesh causes the gases to slow down, allowing the oil and other contaminants to separate from the gas and accumulate within the chamber. The filtered gases then exit the catch can and are directed back into the engine’s intake system.

What is an Air Oil Separator?

An air oil separator, also known as an oil separator or a blow-by separator, is a more advanced system compared to a catch can. It is designed to remove oil and other contaminants from the crankcase ventilation system before it is directed back to the engine. An air oil separator differs from a catch can in terms of its design, function, and efficiency.

How Does an Air Oil Separator Work?

An air oil separator uses a series of baffles and chambers to separate the oil and other contaminants from the crankcase gases. These baffles create a zigzag flow path for the gases, causing them to slow down and lose momentum. This allows the oil and other contaminants to fall out of the gas stream and collect at the bottom of the separator. The filtered gases are then directed back into the engine, while the oil and contaminants are drained into a reservoir for later disposal.

Main Differences Between a Catch Can and an Air Oil Separator

1. Design

One significant difference between a catch can and an air oil separator is their design. A catch can typically consists of a single chamber filled with a filtering material, while an air oil separator has multiple compartments and baffles.

2. Efficiency

Due to its advanced design, an air oil separator is more efficient at separating oil and other contaminants from the crankcase gases compared to a catch can. Its unique baffled design allows for a more thorough separation process, resulting in cleaner gases being directed back into the engine.

3. Maintenance

A catch can requires regular maintenance to clean out the accumulated oil and contaminants manually. On the other hand, most air oil separators have a drain valve that allows for easy disposal of the collected oil and contaminants.

4. Cost

Air oil separators are generally more expensive than catch cans due to their advanced design and functionality.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when it comes to maintaining a properly functioning engine, the use of an air oil separator or a catch can is crucial. While both devices serve a similar purpose of separating and disposing of oil from the air intake, they work in different ways and have their own advantages and disadvantages. It is important for vehicle owners to understand the differences between these two options and choose the one that best suits their specific needs.

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By doing so, they can ensure that their engine runs smoothly and efficiently, while also reducing the risk of potential engine damage. Regardless of which option is chosen, regular maintenance and proper installation are key to ensuring optimal performance.


Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the purpose of an Air Oil Separator (AOS)?

An Air Oil Separator is designed to remove oil from compressed air systems, preventing oil contamination in equipment and ensuring efficient performance. It is commonly used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing.

What are the main types of Air Oil Separators?

There are two main types of AOS: coalescing, which uses a filter to capture oil droplets, and centrifugal, which separates air and oil using centrifugal force.

How does an Oil Catch Can work?

An Oil Catch Can, or catch can, intercepts crankcase gases, separating oil vapors and contaminants from the air. It collects these pollutants in a reservoir, allowing only clean air to recirculate back into the engine.

What are the types of Oil Catch Cans?

There are two main types of Oil Catch Cans: baffled and non-baffled. Baffled catch cans use plates or screens for separation, while non-baffled rely on gravity. Baffled types are generally more effective but may restrict airflow.

How does an Air Oil Separator differ from an Oil Catch Can?

The main differences lie in design, efficiency, maintenance, and cost. AOS has a more complex design with multiple compartments and is more efficient at separation. AOS also typically has a drain valve for easier maintenance but is generally more expensive.

Why is an Air Oil Separator crucial in mechanical systems?

AOS protects equipment from oil contamination, ensuring smooth operation, and enhances air quality by removing particles, maintaining overall system efficiency. Regular maintenance and proper installation extend machinery life and prevent costly repairs.

What issues can arise from not using an Oil Catch Can?

Without a catch can, oil vapors and contaminants can enter the engine intake system, leading to decreased performance, reduced fuel efficiency, potential engine damage, carbon buildup, and increased risk of engine knock.

How often should an Oil Catch Can be maintained?

The frequency of maintenance depends on driving habits and conditions. However, it’s recommended to check and empty the catch can reservoir every few thousand miles to ensure effectiveness.

Which is more cost-effective, an Air Oil Separator or an Oil Catch Can?

Generally, Oil Catch Cans are more cost-effective compared to Air Oil Separators. AOS systems are more advanced and come with a higher price tag due to their design and functionality.

Can either an Air Oil Separator or an Oil Catch Can be used in everyday cars?

Yes, both Air Oil Separators and Oil Catch Cans can be used in everyday cars. The choice depends on the specific needs and preferences of the vehicle owner, considering factors such as efficiency, cost, and maintenance requirements.


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