Wet electrostatic scrubbing for high efficiency submicron particle capture
D'Addio, Luca (2011) Wet electrostatic scrubbing for high efficiency submicron particle capture. [Tesi di dottorato] (Inedito)
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Exposure to fine particulate matter has been associated with serious health effects, including respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and mortality. Very fine inhalable particles can remain suspended in the atmosphere for a long time, travel long distances from the emitting sources and, once inhaled, they can reach the deepest regions of the lungs and even enter in the circulatory system. Therefore, the smaller the particle size, the higher its toxicity. In typical combustion units used in process industry, the end-of-pipe technologies include trains of consecutive abatements devices. Nevertheless, the traditional particle abatement devices are mainly designed and optimized to treat particles with sizes above or around 1µm, and they are far less effective towards the submicron dimensions. Among the end-of-pipe technologies, the Wet Scrubbers (WS) are widely utilized in industry due to their capacity to capture simultaneously gaseous pollutants and particles. The main particle collection mechanisms involved in WS are those related to directional interception and inertial impact, which allow high particle abatement efficiency for particles in micrometric range. Both the mechanisms are instead ineffective in the submicron range, thus resulting in low collection efficiencies. It the past 40 years, it was demonstrated that the presence of electric charge of opposite polarities on the particles and the sprayed droplets can increase the capture efficiency due to Coulomb forces between the two phases. The presence of this additional contribution in a scrubber is an upgrade of the traditional wet scrubbing and the new process is commonly referred as Wet Electrostatic Scrubbing (WES). Experimental investigation of the pertinent literature confirmed the ability of WES to increase the particle capture efficiency respect to the classic wet scrubber, but submicron range is generally not directly investigated so that the best operating conditions to increase submicron particle abatement efficiency is still an unsolved problem. This optimization problem is mainly related to the difficulties to model wet electrostatic scrubbing process due to the high number of the variables involved, resulting in a complex experimental evaluation of the main collection mechanisms that are responsible of the particle capture. Above all, a significant hindrance to the assessment of a proper description of wet electrostatic scrubbing is the complexity of the electro-hydrodynamics of the charged water spray. In this work, a new experimental methodology was adopted to perform experiments in controlled conditions in order to allow an easier investigation of the effects of the main physical variables on the abatement of submicron particles emission. This experimental approach is based on the use of a lab scale batch reactor, in which charged particles produced by combustion are inserted. In the reactor, a train of uniform droplet size and charge is used to remove the suspended particles. This approach has the main advantages to make possible to investigate specific parameters (like the effect of droplet charge or its size) under well-defined conditions and therefore model the particle abatement process. Therefore, the objective of this work is the experimental analysis and the modeling of wet electrostatic scrubbing process for submicron particles with the new methodology developed and the evaluation of the influence of the main physical variables on the capture of submicron particles. The results obtained confirm that the particle abatement is significantly enhanced by charging both particles and droplets, and that the particle abatement rate is directly proportional to the particles and droplet charges and droplet concentration. Furthermore, tests with uncharged particles and charged droplets do not show any relevant increase in the scrubbing efficiency with respect to common wet scrubbing in the investigated conditions. The experimental results obtained were compared with the predictions of classical particle scavenging models valid for ambient temperature and humidity conditions. These models were rarely applied to submicron particles and found a reliable experimental support from the performed experiments. On the other hand, this comparison also confirm the reliability of the experimental methodology in the study of wet electrostatic scrubbing and encourage the development of further tests in experimental conditions more similar to that of industrial scrubbers.
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