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Experimental study of a string-based counterflow wet electrostatic precipitator for collection of fine and ultrafine particles.


Wet electrostatic precipitators (WESP) have been widely studied for collecting fine and ultrafine particles, such as diesel particulate matter (DPM), which have deleterious effects on human health. Here, we report an experimental and numerical simulation study on a novel string-based two-stage WESP. Our new design incorporates grounded vertically aligned polymer strings, along which thin films of water flow down. The water beads, generated by intrinsic flow instability, travel down the strings and collect charged particles in the counterflowing gas stream. We performed experiments using two different geometric configurations of WESP: rectangular and cylindrical. We examined the effects of the WESP electrode bias voltage, air stream velocity, and water flow rate on the number-based fractional collection efficiency for particles of diameters ranging from 10 nm to 2.5 μm. The collection efficiency improves with increasing bias voltages or decreasing airflow rates. At liquid-to-gas (L/G) as low as approximately 0.0066, our design delivers a collection efficiency over 70% even for fine and ultrafine particles. The rectangular and cylindrical configurations exhibit similar collection efficiencies under nominally identical experimental conditions. We also compare the water-to-air mass flow rate ratio, air flow rate per unit collector volume, and collection efficiency of our string-based design with those of previously reported WESPs. The present work demonstrates a promising design for a highly efficient, compact, and scalable two-stage WESPs with minimal water consumption.Implications: Wet Electrostatic Precipitators (WESPs) are highly effective for collecting fine particles in exhaust air streams from various sources such as diesel engines, power plants, and oil refineries. However, their large-scale adoption has been limited by high water usage and reduced collection efficiencies for ultrafine particles. We perform experimental and numerical investigation to characterize the collection efficiency and water flow rate-dependence of a new design of WESP. The string-based counterflow WESP reported in this study offers number-based collection efficiencies >70% at air flow rates per collector volume as high as 4.36 (m3/s)/m3 for particles of diameters ranging from 10 nm - 2.5 μm, while significantly reducing water usage. Our work provides a basis for the design of more compact and water-efficient WESPs.

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