Air Filtration Systems
Air filtration systems describe a wide variety of equipment used to remove impurities from the air with a number of different filtration and purification schemes. Air filters cleanse, purify, and reduce the overall number of particulates and other impurities present in an air source.
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Applications of Air Filtration Systems
As all filtering systems can be designated as either air or liquid filters, this particular category encompasses an extremely broad and diverse range of pollution control equipment. The specific use or application will help to determine the degree of purification necessary. Air filtration systems are set up to block air pollution, which can be invisible to the eye and ranges from dust and pollen particles to microbes, gases, and chemicals. Although widespread, air pollutants can trigger serious allergic reactions in humans and animals, as well as promote the spread of airborne disease and clog electronic or mechanical apparatus, causing reduced productivity or even equipment failure in extreme cases.
Electronic, cleanroom, laboratory, medical, pharmaceutical, and food and chemical processing industries utilize precision air pollution control, such as high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) and ultra low particulate air filters (ULPA), which removes particles as small as 0.3 nanometers. While manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and other industrious applications may utilize these same filters, large particle removal will often suffice and prevent equipment clogging while promoting a healthy and safe work environment for both workers and machinery. Not only an industrial form of filtration, air filters are often installed in commercial and residential ventilation systems as well.
How Air Filtration Systems Work
In general, most air filter systems use an electronic blower to push or pull air through a filter or several filters. The impurities and contaminants, such as dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, metallic powder, gases, and chemicals can be collected for proper disposal or recycling as needed, while the air is returned to circulation or exhausted into the atmosphere. Specific types of air filters include bag filters, box filters, fan filters, panel, and cartridge filters. Each type uses some sort of filter media. As air or gas passes through the filter, a mat, or barrier, the impurities become trapped or, in some cases, dissolved per chemical reactions. Common materials employed in the construction of the aforementioned filters include acrylic, activated carbon, aluminum wire, electrostatic fabric, fiberglass, paper, polyurethane foam, polyester, cotton, and non-woven materials.
The choice of material construct should take into account the intended use of a filtration system. Common considerations include porosity, efficiency, flow rate, filter length, pressure drop, and ply. Each filter may be used alone or in conjunction with others for optimal air purification. While some filters are reusable through repeated washing, others are designed for limited use followed by replacement. Alternatives to traditional air filtration systems include ion diffusers, which neutralize air and ozone air filtration; these destroy rather than trap particles. Available in many types and configurations, air filtration systems are available in standard and custom configurations for easy installment and optimal efficiency.
How to Control Industrial Air Pollution
Industrial pollution has reached a critical point in history, causing more harm to the atmosphere than any other human activity. The gases and liquids released by manufacturing plants and industrial units are turning our environment more and more hazardous, and the need for measures to control industrial pollution has never been so high. Below is a list of methods manufacturing organizations can embrace to lessen the effects of industrial air pollution.
- Follow the Correct Procedures
- Typically, industrial air contaminate leaks are caused by low adherence to environmental storage and waste procedures. If a material or production method is unsafe for the environment, it should be replaced by some other material or method that has been pronounced safe. The ideal manufacturing state is to employ materials that reduce the formation of pollutants. Fuels like coal and wood that are rich in carbon and sulfur release a huge amount of pollutants into the air. As a replacement, electricity or LPG can be used. Moreover, making modifications to the inlet and outlet processes and changing process equipment components are steps that manufacturers can take to control the emission of contaminants. Similarly, processes that eject smog or vapor can be altered by an electric furnace to treat the release.
- Equipment Maintenance
- Due to improper use or lack of maintenance, industrial machines tend to consume more fuel and emit more toxins than their residential counterparts. By keeping process equipment well-maintained, manufacturers can adhere to environmental protection guidelines. Companies should employ dedicated resources to perform appropriate and timely upkeep. Emission of pollutants can be greatly reduced by routine checkup and maintenance.
- Using Pollution Control Devices
- Air filtration systems should be installed to minimize the emission of chemicals through equipment exhaust streams. Most industrial air filters are based on gravitational settling technology. These air filters include a large chamber in which polluted gas is sent at a very slow speed so that the particulate materials get enough time to settle into the chamber due to gravity. Cyclone dust collectors can also be a great utility in controlling the pollution from an industrial exhaust (gas or liquid) stream. Air scrubbers are also effective air pollution control units.
- Some other equipment types that can be used to reduce air pollution include wet scrubbers, fabric filters, electrostatic precipitators, spray towers, etc. These devices are efficient in controlling industrial pollution.
- It is next to impossible to stop the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere completely, but if only a minute amount of noxious elements is sent into the environment, it can be absorbed by the atmosphere itself. For that purpose, dense vegetation and gardening can also be a resourceful method to reduce pollution.
How to Comply with New Environmental Air Regulations
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stipulated federal regulations regarding air pollution emissions from industrial manufacturing facilities, limiting the type and quantity of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) the facilities may emit during processing. VOCs and HAPs pose threats not only to the safety of the environment and local ecosystems, but to human health as well. The number of HAPs, 188 in total, are suspected or proven to cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health effects. Based on the federal regulations laid down in the Clean Air Act, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) is a set of emissions standards based on scientific studies spanning several years designed to protect the health and safety of both the environment and public.
The industries that will fall directly under new stricter regulations are:
- Petrochemical Processing
To remain compliant with federal emissions regulations, facilities must install emission control systems to keep air pollution output below the levels specific to facility size and pollutant type. Oxidizers perform a process in which air pollutants such as hydrogen sulfide are broken up and reformed into safe, non-toxic carbon exhaust. This process, called oxidation, is performed by burning air pollutants and is at the heart of most of these systems.
Depending on the type of air pollution being controlled, facilities may also use:
- Wet Scrubbers or Dry Air Scrubbers
- Devices in which exhaust air is forced into a spray chamber, wherein the water particles cause the dust to drop from the air stream.
- Baghouses (Fabric Collectors)
- Dust collectors containing fabric bags, which trap dust while allowing gases to move through the collector.
- Electrostatic Precipitators
- Utilize grounded electrodes called collection plates to ionize and capture dust and particulate matter in contaminated air. These systems are often used prior to other pollution control equipment.
- Emission Control Systems
- Devices that monitor and diminish harmful byproducts from combustion and other processes.
- OC Destruction
- The oxidation process in which VOCs are heated by incineration or subjected to microorganisms (biodegradation) to produce carbon dioxide and water.
- Air Filtration Systems
- Remove impurities from the air with a number of different filtration and purification schemes.
Facilities may also use data-providing Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS) to aid in the control, monitoring, and reporting of pollutant emissions. VOC and HAP emissions have significantly decreased because of this equipment, but the emission of carbon, a non-volatile organic compound, is becoming of greater concern to environmentalists, lobbyists, state, and federal legislators in recent years due to global climate change. Recent and proposed state and federal emissions regulations are beginning to concentrate on lowering carbon emissions further, a regulation which may require manufacturers to seek alternatives to oxidizers and incinerators. To comply with the recent regulations, different industries will be required to analyze which system or combination of systems will serve their needs.