A condenser is a device that can turn vapor into liquid. The condenser unit typically is used to cool down hot vapors. In laboratory applications, this usually consists of a long narrow tube usually made out of glass. In chemistry, the process of condensation can be very helpful if one is trying to separate a solution of liquids with different boiling points. With a certain boiling point, only one of the substances in a heated flask (usually with the use of a Bunsen burner, as well as a thermometer) would evaporate. Instead of allowing this to escape as vapor, the condenser catches the gas and allows it to cool along the entire length of its glassy interior. The liquid would then drip bit by bit into another flask for collection. An evaporator is a device that makes a liquid substance turn into a gas, and this is almost required for the condenser to properly do its work. Evaporators and condensers often work hand in hand to separate substances from each other.
- An air conditioning unit is one of the best examples of condenser technology at work. A regular air conditioner would have coils of condensers that work by taking humid, hot air out of any room. An air conditioning unit usually has coolants in its condenser circuitry, and this makes it easier for the device to convert the heat of the room into a cooler temperature. Lastly, the coolant goes around and around the circuitry, turning liquid to gas to complete the process of cooling.
- The same goes in automotive applications. The engine bay contains the air conditioning unit, which consists of the compressor, condenser and other parts that regulate cabin temperature and humidity.
- Tumble dryers have a similar concept. Much like air conditioners, a tumble dryer also has condenser tubes at the back that allow it to cool the motor even when the operating temperatures get terribly hot. It may be good to generate heat to dry clothes, but if the machine overdoes it, it would likely overheat the machine and burn the circuitry.
- Refrigerators also use a similar system. The condenser is usually at the back and the bottom of the appliance. There is also coolant in the inner circuitry of tubes that allows the refrigerators with built-in water coolers to come up with cooled water. The machine does a lot of work, so a lot of heat is generated. This is where the condensation process kicks in and makes it very easy for the fridge to cool the system and prevent overheating.
Condensers are very important in any machine that deals with extreme temperatures of cold and heat. Apart from laboratory applications, where the condensation process can be used to study liquids, condensers are also the heart of any cooling system meant for climate control, like home and automotive air conditioning units. You may not see them most of the time, but condensers are a big help, by regulating temperatures and generally making our lives easier.