Dry vs. Wet: Which Industrial Dust Extraction System Is Best for Your Facility?

An industrial dust extraction system is used to capture and collect dust, airborne contaminants, and particulate matter generated during production activities in manufacturing plants, factories, foundries, and like facilities. Dust extraction systems are also designed to filter harmful gases, combustible dust, and particulate matter that may cause a health hazard to employees, a danger to the environment, or pose a risk of deflagration and explosion in the workplace. 

Because types of pollutants differ by industry, industrial dust extraction systems are designed to meet specific dust collection requirements for each industry. Typically, dust collection systems draw dust, gases, and particulates from the airstream and discharge purified air back into the workplace or environment. The objective of each design application is essentially the same—to filter, separate, and capture dust and particulate matter and return sanitized air into the facility. In effect, the systems enhance air quality within manufacturing facilities to meet environmental standards and codes, meet workplace safety requirements and act to prevent the accumulation of dust and contaminants from collecting in and on industrial machinery and equipment that could result in costly housekeeping, maintenance, repairs, and replacement parts. 

In general, two different types of dust extraction methods are used in industrial production environments. One is through a dry dust collection design, the other is by a wet dust collection design. The former principally consists of several fabric filtration systems that collect dust. The latter relies on air pressure and water that “scrub” dust particles before collecting them. There are obvious differences between the two—notably that one system extracts dry dust and the other sticky and moist or hygroscopic dust. There are advantages and specific applications for each collection system. Yet, both serve as a class of air pollution control systems designed to meet EPA and workplace air quality and safety standards.

Dry Dust Collectors

Dry dust collectors are the most common equipment used to extract dust from industrial environments. The most widely used dust collector is an industrial-scale fabric filtration system called a baghouse. Baghouse systems come in several designs, two of the more popular systems being the pulse jet dust collector and the shaker dust collector. Another type of fabric filter design is cartridge collectors, which are used for specific applications or configurations. They are, for example, ideally suited for smaller spaces with the same airflow as larger baghouse systems.

A cyclone collector is also used in dry dust extraction. Cyclone collectors are mechanical inertial separators that, as the name suggests, create an intense circular airflow, a vortex, that separates heavier particles from the airstream. They are often used as a pre-cleaner for larger baghouse filtration systems. 

Dry dust collectors like baghouse systems are highly effective and capable of achieving up to 99.9% efficiency. They can be designed to filter and capture abrasive particles, acid gases, fumes, fine powders, air pollutants, and airborne toxic materials in dust, welding fumes, and particulate residue. Dry dust collectors are used in such diverse industries as food processing and agricultural plants, asphalt, and cement plants, coal processing plants, quarries, steel and iron foundries, chemical and paint manufacturing plants, utilities, power generation and energy plants, and so on. 

Wet Dust Collectors

Often referred to as wet scrubbers, wet dust collectors are designed for particular dust, gases, and contaminants. If the dust generated absorbs moisture, i.e., is hygroscopic, or if the materials are sticky by nature or become sticky in humid conditions, then wet dust collectors are required as dry collection systems would clog during operation.  

Primary wet dust collector systems typically consist of cyclonic designs and venturi systems. In general, wet dust collection combines air pressure and water. The design pulls dust and contaminants from the airstream and passes them through a water stream or spray, where the particles are scrubbed. Once treated, the material is then separated by gravity and forced to the bottom of the tank. 

Wet dust collectors are regarded for their efficiency and can capture very small dust particles. Industrial wet extraction systems are especially useful in treating production processes that create fine, hazardous, or combustible dust and gases. They are employed where there is a risk that such dust could be ignited via a single spark. This would include such work environments as pharmaceuticals and biomedical production, food processing, and the machining industry, where metal sawing, grinding, polishing, buffing, sanding, and abrasive blasting occur. Wet scrubbers collect dust from coal, aluminum, titanium, magnesium, zirconium, tantalum, niobium, fertilizer, and sugar. 

Workplace dust and particulates are generated from any number of industrial production processes. If your industry generates medium to large-sized dry and less combustible dust particulates, then opt for a dry extraction system. A wet scrubber will be needed if your processes produce moist, light, sticky, or combustible dust. Dry dust collectors such as the baghouse systems offer high efficiency. Wet dust collectors reduce the risk of deflagration, fire, or explosion by capturing, scrubbing, and removing the ignition source from the work environment. 

To learn more about whether a wet or dry industrial dust extraction system is better for your facility, please contact the experts at CPE Filters today!