Industrial Dust Collectors – An Overview of the Main Types and Their Uses

Posted January 1, 2024

Dust is an inevitable byproduct in many industrial processes, from woodworking to metal fabrication. Left unchecked, it can create serious health hazards for workers as well as maintenance issues for equipment. Thankfully, a wide range of dust collection systems exist to capture and contain dust.

Knowing the main types of industrial dust collectors and their ideal applications allows facilities to choose the right solutions to keep their plants clean and workers safe. Here is an overview of the most common varieties and how they work.

Cartridge Collectors

Cartridge dust collectors, also sometimes called baghouse dust collectors, use fabric filters to trap airborne particulates. The cartridges consist of fabrics like polyester felt that have been pleated to increase surface area.

Dirty air flows into the unit and through the cartridges, depositing dust on the fabric as it passes through. Filters can be pulse-jet cleaned by short blasts of compressed air that knock the dust off the cartridges so it falls into a collection bin below. This allows extended filter life between replacements.

Cartridge collectors offer high-efficiency filtration down to 5 microns or less, suiting them to fine dusts. They can handle high volumes and are often used in applications like chemical plants, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and food processing. Their enclosed, bag-like design also promotes worker safety by containing the filtered dust.

Cyclone Collectors

As their name suggests, cyclone dust collectors use centrifugal force to spin and separate particulates from an air stream. Dirty air enters near the top of the cyclone at an angle, creating a vortex. The vortex action causes heavier dust particles to move outward and fall into a collection bin at the bottom of the unit.

Because they have no filters, simple cyclone collectors can handle heavy dust loads without clogging. They are ideal for applications like wood shops that produce substantial amounts of chips, sanding dust, and other coarse particulates.

However, cyclone collectors are less effective on fine dusts under 5 microns. Hybrid designs called cyclone pre-cleaners are popular. They use a cyclone’s vortex action to remove the bulk of large dust, paired with filters to catch remaining fine particles the vortex missed.

Wet Scrubbers

As their name implies, wet scrubbers use liquid or water to trap airborne dust and fumes. The most common designs are:

  • Wet Impingement – Particulates impact liquid droplets that absorb them.
  • Venturi Scrubbers – Liquids mix with dust particles and capture them.
  • Rotating Scrubbers – Centrifugal motion separates dust using liquid.

The liquid (usually water) traps the dust and carries it to a collection tank for disposal. Scrubbers handle tough industrial pollutants like metal fumes or acid gases. They also knock down dust particle sizes well due to the liquid trapping action.

Drawbacks are the need for water supply/handling and dealing with contaminated runoff. Scrubbers suit applications like chemical plants, smelters, mines, and anywhere wet suppression of fine dust or fumes is needed.

Electrostatic Precipitators

Electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) electrically charge airborne dust particles using large electrodes. The particles pick up a negative charge, while positively charged large collection plates attract and capture the dust.

Because there are no filters to clog, ESPs can accommodate heavy dust loads. The electrical charging also allows them to trap very fine particulates under 1 micron. Common applications include cement plants, steel mills, mines, and electric utilities where fine particulate control is critical.

On the downside, ESPs require more expensive upfront costs and maintenance for the electrical components. Sparking can also occur if dust buildup creates excessive voltage between electrodes. Still, for high volumes of fine dusts, ESPs offer high collection efficiency with simple maintenance.

Choosing the Right Collector

Selecting the optimal dust collector depends heavily on the application’s details:

  • Dust material – Wood, chemical fumes, food powders all require different capture methods.
  • Particle sizes – Large visible dust versus fine respirable dust.
  • Airflow volume – Heavy industrial versus light commercial.
  • Continuous versus intermittent use – Frequency of filter cleaning needed.
  • Budget – Disposable collectors versus higher capital cost but lower operating cost long-term.

Proper ducting and hooding to capture dust at the source is also crucial. Collector efficiency is wasted if dust escapes back into the workplace rather than entering the unit.

Professional assessment of all factors leads to the best match between application requirements and collector capabilities. For over 20 years, Spilvac has served Australian industries with expert dust collection audits, equipment supply, and maintenance. Contact our team today to review your facility’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Industrial Dust Collectors

What are the most important factors in choosing an industrial dust collector?

The key factors are dust type and particle sizes, required airflow volume, and desired filtration efficiency. Matching these needs to collector capabilities leads to optimal selection. Professional dust collection audits are recommended.

What maintenance is required on industrial dust collectors?

Maintenance needs vary by type. Filter replacement and occasional compressed air filter cleaning are common. Fans, blowers and motors need inspection and repairs over time. Proper ongoing service maximizes collector effectiveness and lifespan.

When should my facility upgrade its current dust collectors?

Upgrades are warranted when existing units can no longer handle increased dust loads from expanded operations. Excess cleaning needs, loss of performance, and dust escaping back into the facility all indicate undersized or aging equipment.

What industries most often use industrial dust collectors?

Nearly any facility doing machining, sanding, grinding or other mechanical material handling needs dust control. Common examples include woodworking, metal fabrication, food processing, pharmaceuticals, cement,utilities, and industrial manufacturing.