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Electrostatic Precipitators

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    One World Electrostatic Precipitators Electrostatic precipitators are machines designed to reduce pollution in industrial applications. Typically fitted to the stacks of factories and power stations, electrostatic precipitators are designed to filter out dust particles from exhaust gases produced by industrial work. 99. 9% of the dust particulates is captured by the precipitator, reducing the amount of dirty air passing into the atmosphere. “Introduction to Precipitators”, 2oo7) Air pollution is a major problem in Hong Kong and across the globe. Power stations generate tonnes of pollution every year, deteriorating the air quality of the city. The waste they create is filled with dust and particulates, which can be detrimental to the population’s health. In this case, electrostatic precipitators are fitted to filter out much of the dust and particulates. In Hong Kong, electrostatic precipitators were introduced to the Castle Peak Power Station in 1990. “Sustainability Report”, 2009) While in 2008 power consumption increased 80% over 1990-levels, emissions of particulates from the Castle Peak facility actually decreased by 79%, which shows the effectiveness of electrostatic precipitators in reducing harmful emissions created by power generation. Much effort has been also made in adapting electrostatic precipitators to remove particulate matter from emissions from diesel engines, such as those found on buses. (Peregin, 2009) In Malta, engineers have developed a prototype of such a device that will help clean exhaust gases coming from buses.

    Their aim is to reduce the amount of pollution so they can reduce the amount of sicknesses and ailments that can be attributed to particulates. Dr Cremona believes that there could be “a huge market for [the invention], especially in developing countries like China where there are some 10 million vehicles that could use it. ” (Peregin, 2009) If the invention works, it could help improve the air quality in Malta, where 98% of buses and coaches run on diesel engines. (“Transport statistics”, 2009) Diagram of ESP [Source: BBC] The above diagram shows the layout of a typical electrostatic precipitator.

    As the exhaust passes through the precipitator, it picks up a negative charge and is attracted to positively-charged collection plates. This allows the waste gas to pass out of the stack cleaned and free of most particulates. (Pople, 2007) (“Static electricity”, n. d) Once the particulates are filtered out of the waste gas and collected, they can be used for other purposes. Already discussed are the main benefits of using electrostatic precipitators in the industry, that is, the removal of airborne particulates from the exhaust gas.

    Those particulates – ash, dust and other objects – can be reintroduced into the manufacturing process as raw material. For example, the waste material collected can be used in the manufacture of glass or ceramics. But while electrostatic precipitators are good at removing particulates from waste gases, they have one major limitation; they are only good at removing particulates from waste gases. They do not help in the reduction of nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas) or sulphur dioxide, two common and harmful atmospheric pollutants.

    This reduces its effectiveness as an all-round environmental protection measure, but it still does not detract from its effectiveness as a particulate filter. A recent estimate for Austria, France and Switzerland (combined population of about 75 million) is that some 40 000 deaths per year can be attributed to ambient PM . Similarly high numbers have been estimated for respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, bronchitis episodes and restricted activity days. The Global Burden of Disease project has recently expanded its analysis of the impact of common risk factors on health to include environmental factors.

    It has been estimated that exposure to fine particulate matter in outdoor air leads to about 100 000 deaths (and 725 000 years of life lost) annually in Europe. (“How does… “, 2005) The previous quote shows that air pollution is something very detrimental to the health of the general population. This can be prevented by the use of electrostatic precipitators. Once air particulates have been removed, a significant part of the risk of damage to people have been removed as well.

    As stated in the quote above, one hundred thousand lives in Europe are lost annually due to ailments and illnesses caused by or complicated by particulates. Using electrostatic precipitators prevent more deaths from taking place. Particulates and air pollution are also very harmful to the environment. Excessive air pollution and emissions of gases such as sulphur dioxide can cause acid rain, which acidifies the soil, rendering it unsuitable for growth of crops and greenery. Much of the harmful gases come from manmade sources, such as power plants, factories and vehicles.

    Particulates also a cause of smog, which can cause plenty of ill effects. Exposure to the ozone, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide contained in the smog can cause inflamed lung passages and pain while inhaling. Cleaner air can help a city economically. In recent years, many expatriates have returned to their country of origin due to the deteriorating quality of the air in Hong Kong, reducing the skilled workforce available in the city. In 2005, US$300 million was lost due to medical bills and lost productivity caused by the bad air pollution.

    Prospective new hires are even turning down job offers because of health fears. (Wan, 2006) Measures to ensure that the air is cleaner, such as electrostatic precipitators, would also cost companies and people money. Money to install, money to run and money to maintain. But the economical gain in this case outweighs the economical loss that comes from implementing measures to protect the environment. There are also many social benefits to cleaning the air that inhabits our environment. One of the most commonly used excuses for not doing exercise is because the weather or the environment is not suitable enough.

    Cleaning the air would encourage people to go out and enjoy physical activity more often, improving their overall fitness as well as their health. Bibliography (2007). Introduction to precipitators. Retrieved September 5, 2009, from Electrostatic Precipitator Knowledge Base Web site: http://www. neundorfer. com/knowledge_base/electrostatic_precipitators. aspx Peregin, C. (2009, August). Inventor hopes to rid world of black exhaust fumes. The Times of Malta, Retrieved September 5, 2009, from http://www. timesofmalta. om/articles/view/20090821/local/inventor-hopes-to-rid-world-ofblack-exhaust-fumes Pople, S. (2007). Complete physics for IGCSE. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. (n. d) Static electricity. Retrieved September 5, 2009, from BBC – GCSE Bitesize Web site: http://www. bbc. co. uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/add_aqa/electricity/ staticelectrev2. shtml (2009). Sustainability report. Retrieved September 5, 2009, from CLP Group – Air Quality Performance Web site: https://www. clpgroup. com/SocNEnv/SER/aboutRpt/Pages/ our_sustainability_report. aspx (2009, March). Transport statistics 2008.

    Retrieved September 6, 2009, from National Statistics Office, Malta Web site: http://www. nso. gov. mt/statdoc/document_file. aspx? id=2432 (2005). How does Particulate Matter affect human health? Retrieved September 6, 2009, from GreenFacts Web site: http://www. greenfacts. org/en/particulate-matter-pm/level-3/02-healtheffects. htm#1p1 Wan, H. (2006, May). Bad air leaves firms gasping. The Standard. Retrieved September 5, 2009, from The Standard Web site: http://www. thestandard. com. hk/news_detail. asp? pp_cat=13&art_id=19199&sid=8075973&con_type=1 Word count: 1205

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