Dust Collector Sizing: Is Your Facility’s System Too Small?

Dust collector sizing is an essential first step when installing a dust collection system in your facility. Though it may be tempting to price out a dust collection system that costs less, any savings realized upfront would be quickly offset by higher energy consumption and increased operational and maintenance costs associated with an underperforming system. 

Dust collection systems are designed to collect, capture, and separate harmful dust,, and particulates from the air at production, processing, and manufacturing plants. The systems are engineered to remove and process contaminated air, which would otherwise be detrimental to human health, the environment, and equipment, and replace it with clean air. However, the dust collector must be correctly sized to function effectively.  

Selecting the right-sized dust collector for a facility does matter. Correctly sized dust collectors are highly effective systems capable of achieving up to 99.9% efficiency. There is no advantage in opting for a smaller dust collector that will not meet the operational needs of its intended space. Dust collectors that are too small are plagued with problems, from insufficient airflow to overloading the system filters, resulting in a higher air-to-cloth ratio that will lead to costly performance and maintenance issues. Ultimately, undersized systems lead to unhealthy work environments, machine and equipment downtime for maintenance, and problematic compliance issues. Here’s what happens when dust collector sizing falls short of requirements and expectations: 

Undersized Collectors Equal Insufficient Airflow

A dust collector too small for a facility will not have the necessary airflow volume for the system to function as intended. Airflow is measured by the air filtered in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM), and it is considered a barometer of efficiency in the performance of dust collector systems. In other words, CFM indicates how much air a dust collection system can move each minute. It must be able to push or pull the air through the system at a certain rate to be effective. An undersized system overloads the filter elements resulting in too high of a static pressure requirement for the exhaust fan, which results in lower air volume.

The Problem With Overloading Filters

When filters are prone to overloading, it reduces the airflow through the system and decreases system efficiency. Dust will not collect at collection points as designed and may saltate dust in horizontal duct runs resulting in plugged ductwork. Besides not collecting dust and particulates as intended, overloaded filters will have to be replaced more often, which can slow production through increased system downtime. But there are health, environmental, and compliance concerns to consider when potentially harmful particulates are circulating through the facility, settling on machinery and equipment, and being released into the atmosphere rather than properly filtered due to an undersized system. To prevent overloading the filters and putting people at risk, ensure the filtration system’s air-to-cloth ratio is the right size for the dust collector. 

Air-to-Cloth Ratio

The air-to-cloth ratio measures a dust collector’s filter velocity and ensures the system performs efficiently. It is calculated by the volume of airflow (the CFM) that passes through the filter media per minute divided by each square foot of filter area. When undertaking dust collector sizing, calculate the correct air-to-cloth ratio required for the facility. In terms of efficiency, it matters. The ratio cannot be too low or too high. Sizing a system with a lower air-to-cloth ratio means expending more funds than necessary. You’ll have clean air but will be unnecessarily burdened with more debt or unnecessary operational expenses. On the other hand, by sizing a ratio too high, you will end up with an undersized, underperforming collector with high operational and maintenance costs.

The higher the airflow and dust concentration in a facility, the greater area of filter media necessary to ensure optimal performance. This requires a lower air-to-cloth ratio for the filter media. An undersized dust collector is prone to a higher air-to-cloth ratio, which lowers system performance. A higher air-to-cloth ratio is due to the area of filter media being insufficient for the amount of dust generated about the size of the facility. A high air-to-cloth ratio means a higher dust concentration in a smaller area, which quickly clogs and overloads the filter media. This results in frequent changeouts, an increase in the cost of replacement, and the costs associated with system downtime for maintenance.

Proper dust collector sizing will ensure your facility has the best-suited dust collection system for your company’s work environment. The wrong size dust collector for a facility will only cause problems and headaches for everyone. CPE Filters can custom tailor a dust collection system to ensure it has the necessary airflow volume to prevent overloading filters and the correct air-to-cloth ratio required to function effectively and efficiently. Contact us today to get started!