October 9, 2021

How Does a Dust Collector Work? | A Clear Cut Guide

A dust collector is a system that removes dust and debris from the air in any work area. The system cleans the air by forcing it through many airtight filters. When the air is cleaned, it is discharged to the outdoors or recirculated. This is after the system has reached the proper emission standards. Many pollutants are produced during production operations, so there are dust collectors to remove the pollutants from the air.

In other words, it is designed for collecting toxic contaminants. The dust collector has many components that complement each other to accomplish the task. These include a blower, a dust filter, a cleaning system, a collection container, and a means of collecting fine dust.

The types of dust-collecting equipment include fabric filter baghouses, inertial separators known as mechanical cyclones, cartridge collectors, wet scrubbers, and electrostatic precipitators. Baghouse dust collectors gained popularity since they have 99% efficiency. The types of pollutants removed depend on the industry. Dust collectors are made with specific designs to meet the needs of each environmental condition.

The main components of a dust collector

Blower

A blower comes in the dust collection system in a simple design. Consider the volume of air before you install one. The air volume is in cubic feet per minute (CFM). 

Static pressure is also of importance throughout the system. Since temperature, substances in the air, and moisture level differ in places, that has to attract your attention. The blower, also known as the fan, consists of a mechanism that draws the pollutant into the ductwork away from the workplace. 

The contaminated air goes to the filtration and cleaning systems. Standard blowers include centrifugal and axial.  The centrifugal model has wheels in the housing, whereas the axial type has propellers.

Dust filter

As the name dust filter implies, it filters dust particles from the air. The dust filter component is the cleaning portion of the dust collection system. The filter has no standard size. It works with the blower since it pulls the air from the workspace into the filter. 

The air-to-cloth ratio is the amount of air that passes through a square foot of the filter. That is when the filter removes the pollutants from the air. Measure the quality of the filtration system with the ratio. The lower the ratio, the higher the quality of the filtration system’s efficiency.

Filter cleaning system

The filter cleaning system holds up the particulates that build up on the surface of the filter, and it gets filled and clogged hence the need to clean the filters before a problem emerges. The cleaning systems involve shutting down the machine, and the system has to be disconnected when cleaning. 

The system has a pressure sensor that monitors the static differential on the filter. Since the system measures the pressure on the filter, signals are sent depending on the state. Higher levels signal the diaphragm valve to let compressed air into the filter. That allows the removal of accumulated particles. 

It is known as the pulse jet baghouse or pulse jet dust collector. That is a popular mode of particulate air pollution control equipment. Other systems have an alarm system that gives you notifications whenever there is high pressure. Other control devices make operators aware there is a collection failure or low-pressure levels across the filter. 

Dust receptacle 

When the particulate escapes from the filter, it passes through the system and falls into a container. The container is called a receptacle, and the particulate will be awaiting collection. The receptacle comes in different designs depending on the type of material and the loading rate. 

The enclosed box has collected material that is funneled into a receptacle. The drum or bag is a system that requires a drum or bag to matter. A rotary valve is almost like a bag, but the matter flows through a valve into a drum.  A screw conveyor system moves it along to a disposal location.

Setting up a dust collector

Start by unpacking the box. Gather all the tools and materials needed to begin. These include a dust collector, filter, hose, tools set, tool ports, hose clamps, and a handle docking port kit. The dust collector and the canister filter require one to follow the attached instructions. 

Mark studs and drill pilot holes

Choose a position where you like the dust collector mounted. There should be an outlet close by. Look out for the studs and mark the center point on each. The studs should be at least 65inches from the ground—Drill 3/16″ pilot holes through the wall and into the stud. 

Attach cleats to the wall

Attach the cleats to the wall using 4 x 5/16 inch lag bolts and washers. The pilot holes guide you for mounting, and the lag bolts are driven tightly into the wall studs.

Install lag bolts into cleats

Install lag bolts into cleats on the underside of the workbench, threading them up through the holes. Attach washers and nuts to the bolts, and tighten them. This will distribute the weight of the workbench evenly over the entire surface area.

Hang the dust collector

Hang the dust collector from the lag bolts by aligning the holes in the dust collector’s brackets with the bolts.

The suction from the dust collector will pull the sawdust and other debris through the hose and into the canister or bag. The dust collector should be attached to the power source before turning it on.

To ensure your dust collector is working correctly, test it by holding a piece of scrap wood against the saw blade. The suction from the dust collector should pull the wood towards the blade. If it doesn’t, check to ensure no leaks in the hose and that the canister or bag is not full.

Tighten the bolts to the cleats

Tighten the bolts attaching the dust collector to the cleats on the underside of the workbench. This will help to keep the dust collector in place while in use.

The dust collector is an integral part of any woodworking shop, as it helps to keep the air clean and free of sawdust and other debris.

Airflow

A well-functioning airflow system ensures maximum performance. Some troubleshoot issues come from insufficient airflow, and poor airflow affects the performance since the design accommodates a certain percentage of airflow to work.  

There is an expected volume of air that ensures proper distribution of air. There should not be an instance whereby the air is lacking in the system, and the process will be incomplete. 

The Motor

The dust collector uses an electric motor that supplies energy to drive the fan. The dust collector motor provides enough power to operate fans during the process. It has to accommodate both temperature and flow rate. 

The ductwork

Dust collection systems have ductwork to draw in the air. The ductwork is the heart of the dust collection system. It is a simple component, but it controls the performance of the system. To ensure proper performance, consider the tool size when you want the pipe size. 

These should be compatible. Consider the air requirements, pipe length, the number of machines serviced, and the types of particulates extracted.

How to waste material is removed from the air

The dust collection system reduces and removes unwanted particles and fumes that are a possible danger to your health. These particles are removed from gases that come during the manufacturing process and the surroundings. 

The dust collecting system purifies and filters dust released into the work environment and the atmosphere. Pollutants differ by industry, and industrial dust collector models are specific to the extraction method required for each industry. Dust collector systems draw dust and particulates from the air through a filter. 

The filter first captures and separates the air and discharges clean air back into the workplace. The process involves filtering, separating, and capturing dust and particulate, and releasing sanitized air.

How the air is purified

Dust is separated from a gas stream through centrifugal force. The air is purified in the collection chambers. A strong airflow forces the dust particles against the walls, including both heavy and bigger particles. 

How to control the airflow

Adjust an outlet damper on the collector fan to control airflow. It needs to be adjusted frequently as conditions in the system change over time. If you know how to adjust an outlet damper properly, it is not uncommon for the filter’s life in a system to be shorter.

Optimize airflow control using an inlet damper, modify the fan by replacing the pulleys, or use a variable frequency drive (VFD) digital control system.

David D. Hughes
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