An electrostatic precipitator, also known as an electrostatic air cleaner, is a pollution control device found in factories that emit gasses that include particles that pollute the atmosphere. This device catches the pollutants and releases the cleaned gas to the atmosphere through a stack. It is commonly found in industrial plants that produce materials like iron, petroleum, chemicals, metals, electricity, and cement.
There are two types of electrostatic precipitators — wet and dry. The wet type retrieves wet particles, including acid, oil, resin, and tar, from the exhaust gas. The dry type, on the other hand, is used to remove dry particles like dust and ash.
The process of extracting the particles from factory exhaust starts with ionization, where the particles are electrostatically charged. The plates or other collection mechanisms on the sides of the precipitator attract the charged particles, which are then neutralized before being released to a hopper. Finally, a conveyor transports the particles to the disposal area for proper handling.
An efficient electrostatic precipitator is able to collect as much as 99.9% of the particles from the gas exhaust before it is released into the air. Four factors generally affect the optimum efficiency of an electrostatic precipitator. These factors include the size of the electrostatic precipitator, the efficiency of the mechanism that collects the particles given a particular volume of gas to process, the chemical composition of the particles to be precipitated, and the voltage supplied by the power system to the electric field.
Several events could trigger the review of the operation of an electrostatic precipitator to make replacement or reconfiguration decisions. The equipment may have deteriorated, causing frequent downtime for the precipitator. The review could also be prompted by changes in products or production volume, or both. The review can likewise be an offshoot of stricter regulation on air pollution.
The review of electrostatic precipitator concerns can be extended to include corporate social responsibility concerns. Some particles that go into the disposal bin may be hazardous and may have harmful effects not only to the atmosphere but to the health of workers and the surrounding communities as well. The plant management team should review and incorporate efficient waste disposal technologies and equipment suitable in handling wet and dry particles retrieved from the gases. A company could also consider membership in safety organizations within and outside its industry to get updates on protocols for handling industrial waste.