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This article takes an in depth look at Air Scrubbers.
You will learn more about topics such as:
What is an Air Scrubber?
How an Air Scrubber works
The types of Air Scrubbers
Benefits of Air Scrubbers
And much more…
Chapter One - What is an Air Scrubber?
An air scrubber is an air purification system that removes particulate matter from the air through the use of moisture or by cooling or filtering the airstream as it enters the scrubber. The two types of air scrubbers are wet and dry; they are differentiated by the method they use to remove particles. The primary function of an air scrubber is to make air breathable after it has been contaminated by toxic fumes, chemicals, gases, and pollutants.
Air scrubbers are an essential part of industrial operations that produce pollutants or toxic gasses. Their use ensures that any air that leaves a company‘s facility is free of contaminants, hazardous emissions, or any form of pollutants. Aside from their function as an air cleaning device, air scrubbers are beneficial means for removing unpleasant odors and supplying fresh clean air.
Chapter Two - How an Air Scrubber Works
The level of concern for the quality of the air we breathe has been rapidly growing over the last fifty years. What was considered to be an acceptable part of business has been identified as a threat to society and our quality of life. In reaction to the demands for environmental controls, companies and governmental agencies are continually striving to develop appropriate standards and regulations to ensure the air we breathe is safe and pollutant free.
A major step in the war against pollution is the rapid growth and use of air scrubbers, which are devices designed and engineered to remove contaminants and toxic materials from the air. Available in sizes to meet the needs of large companies as well as those of homes, air scrubber technology has proven to be a huge step in solving the air pollution problem.
The air scrubber process happens in stages, with each stage designed to perform a separate and unique function. The process starts with a series of filters that are tasked with removing larger particles that could hamper the operation of the scrubber.
In any air filtration system, there will be large particles that may hamper the process and clog parts of the mechanism. Though these particles are regarded as large, they are not visible to the naked eye and can be as small as 2.5 micrometers (µm) and up to 5 µm in diameter with some as large as 90 µm to 100 µm. These are the types of particles that irritate your eye without being seen.
Prior to air entering an air scrubber, the minute particles must be removed and filtered out of the air stream; this is completed by a pre-filtration system using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter capable of removing 99.95% of contaminants. Pre-filters protect larger filters from clogging and enhance filter lifespan. Another benefit of a pre-filter is its ability to maintain a regular and even airflow rate.
Though the pre-filter is substantial enough to remove many small particles, those that are smaller than one µm will still pass through. In order to ensure a complete removal of all particulate matter of any size, a primary filter is placed at the second stage of the air scrubber process.
The primary filter is also a HEPA filter and is capable of removing particles as small as 0.3 µm. The second filtration further cleanses the air stream down to the most minute particles, ensuring efficient operation of the air scrubber. As can be seen in the image below, the primary filter is thicker and heavier than the pre-filter.
A carbon filter is not a standard part of an air scrubber. They are an additional filter that is added for specific environments and conditions. The normal function of an air scrubber is to clean the air of toxic materials, pollutants, chemicals, and other dangerous and potentially damaging substances. This is their main purpose and design.
There are manufacturing processes and services that produce noxious and damaging odors such as portable toilet services, juice factories, and solid waste disposal facilities. The production of odors is unpleasant for workers and generates a great deal of complaints from neighbors.
The addition of a carbon filter to an air scrubber removes gas and vapor molecules, which are the causes of smells and odors. A carbon filter attracts odors and absorbs them. One gram of carbon can absorb 2000 sq meters or 2391 sq yd of smelly, noxious, and unpleasant odors.
Carbon Bed Filter
Carbon bed filters remove organic materials from inorganic fluid streams. The activated carbon, placed in a filtering frame, absorbs organic particulate matter as the fluid stream passes through the carbon. The purified material is ejected through an outlet nozzle. The carbon for the filter has granular activated carbon that is processed from coal, which has undergone high temperature steam activation.
The processing of removing carbon from coal enhances the absorption properties of the carbon for all molecular weight impurities. Carbon from coal has a longer process life and few product issues. Activated carbon can absorb 20% of its weight in impurities.
Carbon bed filters are used in sensitive environments including military applications, food processing, and pharmaceutical labs. They are widely used in places where oil may be present in the air.
Every design of an air scrubber is different and unique to its manufacturer. Special features and additives, beyond the carbon filter, are included to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the mechanism. In one ideation of an air scrubber, ultraviolet (UV) lights are added.
As airborne contaminants pass along the air stream of the air scrubber, UV lights inactivate airborne pathogens and microorganisms such as mold, bacteria, and viruses. The disruption of the DNA of contaminants makes them useless. In the process, the pollutants are killed and rendered inert. While filters can trap pollutants and contain them, UV air purification kills pollutants and pathogens.
In order for an air scrubber to work at peak efficiency, it has to have a mechanism for pulling the air stream into the filtration and air cleaning system. The generic term for this part of an air scrubber is a blower; it comes in several varieties depending on the manufacturer. In some instances, the blower is referred to as a fan.
Regardless of the various designs and configurations, the blower or fan serves the purpose of pulling the air stream into the mechanism such that the air can be cleansed of odors and particulate matter. In some cases, the blower can have variable speeds to accommodate the rate and pressure of the air stream.
Spray Tower Scrubber
A spray tower scrubber has the gas stream fed into the spray chamber and sprayed with chemicals that contain scrubbing liquids applied by spray nozzles. Droplet size is controlled to increase particle contact and droplet separation from the gas stream. The flow of spray tower scrubbers chamber can be positioned for a cross flow, countercurrent flow, or concurrent flow and include baffles for increased gas liquid contact.
The process of a spray tower scrubber forces polluted fumes through a fluid vapor, which traps the gas particles. Spray tower scrubbers are capable of trapping particles of 10 µm as well as gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, chromic acid, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, chlorides, and fluorides.
Dry Air Scrubber
Dry air scrubbers use sprayed reagents that enter the exhaust stream at incredibly high speed to target particular pollutants. The reaction between the reagent and the pollutants causes the polluted material to fall out of the air stream. The captured material and the spray are burned off in the heat of the air stream or caught in a filter; this makes a dry air scrubber environmentally friendly.
A dry air scrubber is more economical to operate since it does not require the removal or storage of waste water. The main use of dry scrubbers is capturing solvents and acidic gasses.
Leading Manufacturers and Suppliers
Chapter Three - Types of Air Scrubbers
Air scrubbers come in a wide array of types to fit any conditions, particulate waste, and environments. Over the last several years, air scrubber technology has had to change to meet the many types of pollutants produced by modern industry. The need to control smoke from smoke stacks and carbon monoxide have expanded to include a wide assortment of chemicals used to produce today‘s modern conveniences.
Air scrubber manufacturers have perfected their products so that air scrubbers can be engineered to specialize in specific types of pollutants, chemicals, and toxic substances. As researchers have investigated waste materials from manufacturing, they have discovered that different industries produce different substances. This has led to the development of air scrubbers that can target one or many pollutants.
Electrostatic precipitators use electrical energy to remove dust and contaminants from gasses. The design of an electrostatic precipitator has to match the polarity and charge of the material to be removed such that it binds to them and captures them. Each configuration of electrostatic precipitator can be adjusted, so it targets the specific needs of an application.
A plate precipitator is the most basic type. It consists of rows of wires connected to large flat plates that are spaced equally apart. As the air stream passes over the plates, a negative voltage is passed between the wires and plates that causes the ionized particles to attach to a grounded plate where they are removed from the air stream and collected.
Dry Electrostatic Precipitator
In a dry electrostatic precipitator, high voltage electrodes send a charge into the particles in the gas. The charged particles are attracted to a ground collecting surface. The collected particles are removed by vibrations that cause them to fall off into a hopper.
Dry electrostatic precipitators operate at temperatures above the dew point of the gas stream and are designed to collect wood and coal ashes from boilers and incinerators. The major benefit of dry electrostatic precipitators is their ability to collect and move collected toxic materials in a dry condition; this eliminates the use of water and pollution concerns.
Wet Electrostatic Precipitator
A wet electrostatic precipitator uses a highly charged electrical field to attract and collect particles to a grounded surface in an air or gas stream. The negatively charged particles are collected on a metal plate or wires from which they are washed by water spray, irrigation, or condensation into a collection container. They are known for their ability to remove airborne liquid droplets, such as sulfuric acid mist.
WESP air scrubbers can have a tubular, circular plate, concentric plate, or flat plate design with an external cooling system to keep the walls of the WESP air scrubber clear and clean. Additionally, the design of WESP air scrubbers gives them a smaller footprint and lower cost. They are used in gas exhaust streams containing sticky, condensable hydrocarbon pollutants and potentially combustible and explosive materials.
An additional feature of WESP air scrubbers is their pre-quench water spray that cools and saturates gases prior to their entering the electrical field. They have a 99% efficiency rating for the removal of particles as small as 0.01 µ with 1.0 WC pressure drop.
Tubular Electrostatic Precipitator
A tubular electrostatic precipitator consists of high voltage tubes that are arranged parallel to each other in a circular, square, or hexagonal honeycomb formation. The gas can flow up from the bottom of the unit or down from the top.
A major benefit of the tubular design is its ability to remove large dust particles efficiently and easily. Nearly 90% of the pollutant material is removed from the air stream. Tubular electrostatic precipitators are used where viscous or thick particles are present.
Portable Air Scrubber
Portable air scrubbers are used during renovations or other types of large scale indoor projects where contaminants will be exhausted into the atmosphere and a permanent air scrubbing system is not viable. They include a system of exhaust tubes that lead from the interior of the project to the outdoors.
Portable air scrubbers have a series of HEPA filters designed to clean the air before removing it. Also included are photocatalytic purifiers that work like UV light to turn pollutants into inert substances.
Negative Air Scrubber
A negative air scrubber creates negative air pressure in a contained area to capture and collect contaminants. In nature, air flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. Sustained negative air pressure creates an inward flow of air from leaks or openings in a structure, preventing contaminants from leaving the work area.
The use of a negative pressure air scrubber is especially critical when old, outdated buildings and structures are being renovated. Asbestos is a material that was used years ago but is outlawed today; it is found in many older buildings. Releasing asbestos into the atmosphere can lead to very serious legal and environmental complications. A negative air scrubber pulls in contaminants, such as asbestos, from the area and prevents them from leaving the structure.
A negative air scrubber can move 2000 cu ft/min or 56 cu m/min and includes a triple stage HEPA filtration system capable of capturing mold, asbestos, bacteria, dust, and airborne contaminants. The continuous and efficient operation of a negative air scrubber provides a clean, safe, healthy, and productive environment.
Packed Bed Scrubber
Packed bed or packed tower scrubbers are specially designed wet scrubbers for chemical scrubbing of gaseous contaminants. A packed bed is a hollow tube, pipe, or container that is filled with material that can contain a catalyst such as zeolite pellets and granular activated carbon, a packing media to facilitate intimate contact between a scrubbing reagent liquid and the gas to be scrubbed.
In a vertical version of the packed bed air scrubber, contaminated gas flows upward through the tower while scrubbing liquids flow downward. Absorption of the gasses takes place in the packing section, allowing clean gas to exit the top of the tower. In a horizontal version of the packed bed air scrubber, contaminated gas flows horizontally.
Cyclone Spray Chambers
A cyclone spray chamber includes a combination of a cyclone tower and spray tower. The air stream enters the tower at high speed; this generates the cyclonic action. The movement of the cyclone forces heavier air droplets containing contaminants and particulate matter against the wall of the chamber, allowing the lighter clean air to escape. Cyclone spray chambers are highly efficient but require more energy to create their extreme working pressure.
Venturi Air Scrubber
A venturi air scrubber has a venturi shape with a throat in the middle of the chamber. It is a wet water jet method for cleaning the air stream. Dust filled air is accelerated as it enters the converging part of the venturi and is atomized in the throat where the dust particles collide with water droplets. The heavy droplets enter the cyclonic portion of the scrubber where they are tossed against the wall and run down the wall into the bottom collector.
Chemical Specific Air Scrubbers
Various manufacturing processes produce specific types of chemicals or pollutants such as ammonia, chlorine, various types of dust, and acids. Each contaminant requires an air scrubber specifically designed and configured to remove the pollutant material. In most cases, these are wet scrubbers that use some form of chemical due to the ineffectiveness of water as a cleaning agent.
Chemical and Gas
Chemical and gas air scrubbers are most efficient when there is correct contact between the material to be removed and the scrubbing agent. In most cases, these are packed bed scrubbers with recycle pumps and mist eliminators.
A particulate scrubber is able to handle gas streams with moisture or at a high temperature. They are smaller units and can remove particles as well as gas.
An ammonia scrubber is a specialized type of wet scrubber that works by funneling the ammonia stream through a packed bed tower scrubber that sprays the ammonia stream with a chemical solution designed to react with the ammonia. The unique chemical spray normally contains a large amount of sulfuric acid; this is a cost effective choice of ammonia removal.
A chlorine air scrubber is also a packed bed scrubber that uses a neutralizing agent such as soda ash. As the chlorine gas is pulled into the system, the cleaning agent is released and makes contact with the gas, which is then neutralized and passed to a packing medium.
A dust air scrubber is a form of wet air scrubber that removes particulate matter by forcing the air stream into a wetted throat at high velocity where it strikes the wall of the throat. The collision breaks the particulates into droplets that fall into a sump where they form a slug for removal. To further quench the particles, the air from the sump passes through a mist eliminator during removal.
Chemical producers that emit sulfur based materials are required by law to remove any toxic byproducts from their processing. The most common form of air scrubber for sulfuric acid is a wet packed bed scrubber with a recirculated liquid caustic solution such as sodium hydroxide that neutralizes the acid and removes vapors with a mist eliminator. The process of removing sulfuric acid is multistage and begins with the packed bed.
Pollution Control Units (PCU)
Commercial kitchens produce a variety of pollutants that do not meet the dictates of commercial exhaust standards. In response to the lack of guidance and standards, Underwriter Laboratories and air scrubber manufacturers developed UL 8782, an Outline of Investigation of Pollution Control Units (PCU). The specifications contained in UL 8782 define PCU assemblies for commercial cooking operations and the types of ducts used to exhaust heat, smoke, and grease laden vapors.
The stipulations of UL8782 align with NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operation, the International Mechanical Code, and the Uniform Mechanical Code. UL8782 contains tests and safety concepts from UL Standards in regard to commercial kitchen exhaust systems.
Chapter Four - Benefits of Air Scrubbers
The most important benefit of air scrubbers is their ability to cleanse the air of toxic materials and pollutants. It is the main reason that air scrubbers are so widely used. Air scrubbers are the primary method for preventing contamination of the environment and pollution of the air.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) keeps close watch on the quality of the air since polluted air can have minor to severe health effects. It is the vigilance of the EPA and the concerns of manufacturers and producers that has led to the popularity of air scrubbers and their wide use.
Air scrubbers can be found in several environments, from homes, factories, offices, and commercial locations. Essentially, wherever clean air is needed, an air scrubber will be used.
Removes Airborne Contaminants
Enclosed spaces are two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. According to the EPA, indoor air in buildings, homes, and manufacturing plants is five times more dangerous than the air we breathe outside.
Air scrubbers are the ideal solution to the problem since they are capable of removing 99.99% of any pollutants, contaminants, or toxins. Every commercial operation has some form of air scrubber for the protection of its workers. These exceptionally beneficial devices protect the health of workers as well as that of customers.
Compliance with the Law
Each year, the list of chemicals that must be controlled has been steadily increasing in compliance with the enactment of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. On the list are 189 hazardous air pollutants (HAP), from acetaldehyde to xylenes that are required to be controlled to prevent accidental release. Of the 189, 100 chemicals are listed as extremely hazardous air pollutants (EHAP); these require government approval for the methods of release prevention and control programs.
The growing environmental concern in society has led to the development and use of methods that will prevent and control the destruction of the environment by the emission of HAPs and EHAPs. Though many methods are being tested and tried, air scrubbers have proven to be a very reliable and dependable answer to the problem.
Many facilities rely on an air conditioning system as a means of cleaning the air and preventing the spread of pollutants. Though such systems are useful in controlling air flow, they do not provide the strength of an air scrubber.
According to manufacturer data, air scrubbers are 50 times more powerful than HVAC systems in eliminating and controlling airborne contaminants and pathogens. An air scrubber‘s air cleaning and filtration system removes 90% of pollutants and contaminants in the first half hour of its use.
Air fresheners are advertised as a method for removing odors and adding a fresh scent. In actuality, an air freshener is another form of air pollution; it is a chemical substance that is added to already contaminated air. Unlike an air scrubber, an air freshener adds another detrimental substance to the air.
An air scrubber uses charged ions to kill and remove bacteria, odors, contaminants, pollutants, and chemicals, including the smell of air fresheners. Odors that are created by spoiled food, rotting substances, and manufacturing processes are completely removed and replaced with fresh, uncontaminated air.
HVAC System Addition
HVAC systems labor as they change the temperature of the air and collect pollutants. The constant wear on the system shortens its lifespan. The installation of an air scrubber drastically reduces the workload of an HVAC system, thereby lengthening its life span and usefulness.
Cleansed air is easier to circulate and cool. With minute fragments of pollen and dust removed, an HVAC system can concentrate on cooling air and ignore any form of pathogens.
Approximately 36 million people suffer from some form of allergy with pollen being the most common. Pollen is an extremely fine and minute powder that is produced by trees, flowers, grasses, and weeds. It is a natural way for plants to propagate their species, but it produces an uncomfortable reaction in people who are allergic to it.
The majority of air conditioning or HVAC systems are unable to filter out pollen due to how tiny pollen molecules are. This is not the case for air scrubbers, which can catch and remove the smallest, most minute form of pollen or pollution. The use of an air scrubber serves as a form of pollen control and helps ease allergies. Through the use of deionization and a system of sophisticated filters, air scrubbers cleanse and treat the air such that the air becomes clean, clear, and pollen free.
Total Materials Removed
Indoor air is polluted by particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOC), and microscopic organisms. Particulate matter refers to dirt, pollen, various types of chemicals, and skin and hair residue. Organic compounds include a wide assortment of odors and smells as well as vapors and smoke.
There are innumerable types of microscopic life forms that float about in the air. They include bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew. The majority of floating microbes are harmless but can be odor causing and serve as a form of pollutant.
In the many years that air scrubbers have been used as a method for fighting air pollution, they have proven to be capable of removing 99% of all microbes, particulate matter, and VOCs.
The initial cost of installing an air scrubber may seem prohibitive and expensive since the purchase of an air scrubber can vary between $1000 to $4000. As with any form of equipment, the installation and initiation may be costly, but there are substantial benefits when the equipment is put to use. This is especially true in the case of an air scrubber, which can save on a wide variety of costs in terms of maintenance, disease, and illness.
An air scrubber saves on cleaning costs, electricity, and medical bills by removing the particles in the air that force an air conditioning system to work harder as well as removing disease causing pathogens.
Chapter Five - Uses for Air Scrubbers
There is an ongoing discussion regarding indoor air and its quality. An ever growing number of reports, studies, and several research projects have found a direct link between indoor air and public health. Several devices are available that are designed to clean and purify the air; these include air purifiers, HVAC systems, moisture adding systems, or moisture removing systems.
Of the many devices, air purifiers and humidifiers are the best known and most popular. They are found in homes, factories, offices, and businesses as a guaranteed method for cleaning the air and removing adverse particulate matter. Recently, companies and individuals have discovered air scrubbers, which are a more productive and efficient method for removing odors and cleaning the air.
Mold is a common problem in any structure regardless of the environment and weather. It is a fast growing fungus that can take over any indoor space and leads to significant damage to air quality, damage to surfaces, and very serious health issues.
Air scrubbers are an ideal solution to issues with mold since they are designed to work against severe pollution in large areas.
In the majority of cases, a portable air scrubber removes mold from the air of an environment and may only be needed until the condition is contained.
Many believe they are allergic to dust. In actuality, they are allergic to dust mites—living creatures that exist in dust. An air scrubber kills dust mites and removes them from the air. Every type of air scrubber is capable of completely and emphatically eliminating 100% of dust mite contamination.
Dissemination of Oxidizers
As an air scrubber cleans the air, it releases oxidizers that spread through the atmosphere and assist in eliminating pathogens on surfaces and in the air. Though not necessarily a listed aspect of an air scrubber, it is a benefit that enhances and cleans the environment as well as prevents the collection of dust.
Particulate matter released from an air scrubber becomes supercharged and is able to attack, destroy, and eliminate fungi, mold, and bacteria. Regardless of the location of offensive matter, the charged particles seek it out and destroy it.
Natural Air Cleaning
An air scrubber is a natural and eco-friendly method for cleaning the air. Unlike air fresheners that further pollute the air, air scrubbers transform and recondition the air by removing toxins naturally and safely.
In essence, air cleaning is the primary function of an air scrubber. They are designed to significantly reduce and eliminate VOCs, contaminants, mold, odors, gases, and other pollutants. Air scrubbers are found everywhere, from factories that use acids and gases to produce their products to residences that desire cleaner and more healthy living conditions.
Manufacturers and air scrubber users have contributed to a considerable amount of research regarding the filtration capabilities of air scrubbers. The evidence from the data indicates that an air scrubber is 99.99% successful in purifying and eliminating toxic matter from the air stream.
An air scrubber is an air purification system that removes particulate matter from the air through the use of moisture or by cooling or filtering the airstream as it enters the scrubber.
A major step in the war against pollution is the rapid growth and use of air scrubbers, which are devices designed and engineered to remove contaminants and toxic materials from the air.
Over the last several years, air scrubber technology has had to adjust and change to meet the many types of pollutants produced by modern industry.
Air scrubber manufacturers have perfected their products so that their air scrubbers can specialize in specific types of pollutants, chemicals, and toxic substances.
The most important benefit of air scrubbers is their ability to cleanse the air of toxic materials and pollutants.
Leading Manufacturers and Suppliers
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