Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP)

Definition - What does Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) mean?

An electrostatic precipitator (ESP) is a device which removes dust or other finely divided particles from a gas by charging the particles inductively with an electric field, then attracting them to highly charged collector plates.

Electrostatic precipitators are large boxlike structures, typically containing hundreds of plates. They can remove particles as small as 1 micrometer with an efficiency of more than 99%.

An electrostatic precipitator is also known as a precipitator or electrostatic air cleaner.

Corrosionpedia explains Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP)

Electrostatic precipitators are highly efficient filtration devices that minimally impede the flow of gases through the device, and can easily remove fine particulate matter such as dust and smoke from the air stream.

These pollution-control devices are often found in factories that emit gases which include particles that pollute the atmosphere. Since its invention, electrostatic precipitators have been the primary air-pollution-control technology for particulate control in power generation and industrial processes throughout the world. It is commonly found in industrial plants that produce materials like iron, petroleum, chemicals, metals, electricity and cement.

There are two types of electrostatic precipitators:

  • Wet - Removes wet particles, including acid, oil, resin and tar
  • Dry - Removes dry particles like dust and ash

Four factors generally affect the optimum efficiency of an electrostatic precipitator:

  • Size of the electrostatic precipitator
  • Efficiency of the mechanism that collects the particles
  • Chemical composition of the particles to be precipitated
  • Voltage supplied by the power system to the electric field

ESPs can be designed to meet stringent particulate emission standards with minimal pressure loss and high equipment reliability for extended plant operation.

Some of the usual applications include:

  • Removal of dirt from flue gases in steam plants
  • Cleaning of air in ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Removal of oil mists in machine shops and acid mists in chemical process plants
  • Cleaning of blast furnace gases
  • Recovery of valuable materials such as oxides of copper, lead and tin
  • Separation of rutile from zirconium sand
  • Cleaning of air to remove fungi and bacteria in establishments producing antibiotics and other drugs, as well as operating rooms
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