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As you may know, particulate matter (particles) is one of the industrial air pollution problems that must be controlled. Of the major particulate collection devices used today, electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) are one of the more frequently used.

They can handle large gas volumes with a wide range of inlet temperatures, pressures, dust volumes, and acid gas conditions. They can collect a wide range of particle sizes, and they can collect particles in dry and wet states. For many industries, the collection efficiency can go as high as 99%. ESPs aren't always the appropriate collection device, but they work because of electrostatic attraction (like charges repel; unlike charges attract).




Every particle either has or can be given a chargepositive or negative. Let's suppose we impart a negative charge to all the particles in a gas stream. Then suppose we set up a grounded plate having a positive charge. What would happen? The negatively charged particle would migrate to the grounded collection plate and be captured. The particles would quickly collect on the plate, creating a dust layer. The dust layer would accumulate until we removed it, which we could do by rapping the plate or by spraying it with a liquid. Charging, collecting, and removingthat's the basic idea of an ESP


The precipitation process involves 4 main functions Corona generation Particle charging Particle collection Removal of particles

The applied voltage is increased until it produces a corona discharge, which can be seen as a luminous blue glow around the discharge electrode. The free electrons created by the corona are rapidly fleeing the negative electric field, which repulses them. They move faster and faster away from the discharge electrode. This acceleration causes them to literally crash into gas molecules, bumping off

electrons in the molecules. As a result of losing an electron (which is negative), the gas molecules become positively charged, that is, they become positive ions . So, this is the first thing that happensgas molecules are ionized, and electrons are liberated. All this activity occurs very close to the discharge electrode. This process continues, creating more and more free electrons and more positive ions. The name for all this electron generation activity is avalanche multiplication .



ESP has thin wires called discharge electrodes, which are evenly spaced between large plates called collection electrodes, which are grounded. Think of an electrode as something that can conduct or transmit electricity. A negative, high-voltage, pulsating, direct current is applied to the discharge electrode creating a negative electric field. You can mentally divide this field into three regions The field is strongest right next to the discharge electrode, weaker in the areas between the discharge and collection electrodes called the interelectrode region, and weakest near the collection electrode. The region around the discharge electrode is where the particle charging process begins.





As the electrons leave the strong electrical field area around the discharge electrode, they start slowing down. Now they're in the inter-electrode area where they are still repulsed by the discharge electrode but to a lesser extent. There are also gas molecules in the inter-electrode region, but instead of violently colliding with them, the electrons kind of bump up to them and are. This imparts a negative charge to the gas molecules, creating negative gas ions. This time, because the ions are negative, they too want to move in the direction opposite the strong negative field. Now we have ionization of gas molecules happening near the discharge electrode and in the inter-electrode area, but with a big difference. The ions near the discharge electrode are positive and remain in that area. The ions in the middle area are negative and move away, along the path of invisible electric field lines, toward the collection electrode.




Charging of Particles: These negative gas ions play a key role in capturing dust particles. Before the dust particles can be captured, they must first acquire a negative charge. This is when and where it happens. The particles are traveling along in the gas stream and encounter negative ions moving across their path. Actually, what really happens is that the particles get in the way of the negatively charged gas ions. The gas ions stick to the particles, imparting a negative charge to them. At first the charge is fairly insignificant as most particles are huge compared to a gas molecule. But many gas ions can fit on a particle, and they do. Small particles (less than 1 m diameter) can absorb tens of ions. Large particles (greater than 10 m) can absorb "tens of thousands" of ions.

Eventually, there are so many ions stuck to the particles, the particles emit their own negative electrical field. When this happens, the negative field around the particle repulses the negative gas ions and no additional ions are acquired. This is called the saturation charge. Now the negatively-charged particles are feeling the inescapable pull of electrostatic attraction. Bigger particles have a higher saturation charge (more molecules fit) and consequently are pulled more strongly to the collection plate. In other words, they move faster than smaller particles. Regardless of size, the particles encounter the plate and stick, because of adhesive and cohesive forces.



Particles are charged by negative gas ions moving toward the collection plate by one of these two mechanisms: FIELD CHARGING or DIFFUSION CHARGING In field charging, as particles enter the electric field, they cause a local dislocation of the field. Negative gas ions traveling along the electric field lines collide with the suspended particles and impart a charge to them. The ions will continue to bombard a particle until the charge on that particle is sufficient to divert the electric lines away from it. This prevents new ions from colliding with the charged dust particle. When a particle no longer receives an ion charge, it is said to be saturated. Saturated charged particles then migrate to the collection electrode and are collected.


Diffusion charging is associated with the random Brownian motion of the negative gas ions. The random motion is related to the velocity of the gas ions due to thermal effects: the higher the temperature, the more movement. Negative gas ions collide with the particles because of their random thermal motion and impart a charge on the particles. Because the particles are very small (sub micrometer), they do not cause the electric field to be dislocated, as in field charging. Thus, diffusion charging is the only mechanism by which these very small particles become charged. The charged particles then migrate to the collection electrode.


In the inter-electrode region, negative gas ions migrate toward the grounded collection electrode. A space charge, which is a stable concentration of negative gas ions, forms in the inter-electrode region because of the high electric field applied to the ESP. Increasing the applied voltage to the discharge electrode will increase the field strength and ion formation until spark over occurs. Spark over refers to internal sparking between the discharge and collection electrodes. It is a sudden rush of localized electric current through the gas layer between the two electrodes. Sparking causes an immediate short-term collapse of the electric field (Figure 1-8.) For optimum efficiency, the electric field strength should be as high as possible. More specifically, ESPs should be operated at voltages high enough to cause some sparking, but not so high that sparking and the collapse of the electric field occur too frequently. The average spark over rate for optimum precipitator operation is between 50 and 100 sparks per minute. At this spark rate, the gain in efficiency associated with increased voltage compensates for decreased gas ionization due to collapse of the electric field.


When a charged particle reaches the grounded collection electrode, the charge on the particle is only partially discharged. The charge is slowly leaked to the grounded collection plate. A portion of the charge is retained and contributes to the inter-molecular adhesive and cohesive forces that hold the particles onto the plates. Adhesive forces cause the particles to physically hold on to each other because of their dissimilar surfaces. Newly arrived particles are held to the collected particles by cohesive forces; particles are attracted and held to each other molecularly. The dust layer is allowed to build up on the plate to a desired thickness and then the particle removal cycle is initiated.



Dust that has accumulated to a certain thickness on the collection electrode is removed by one of two processes, depending on the type of collection electrode. As described in greater detail in the next section, collection electrodes in precipitators can be either plates or tubes, with plates being more common. Tubes are usually cleaned by water sprays, while plates can be cleaned either by water sprays or a process called rapping.

Rapping is a process whereby deposited, dry particles are dislodged from the collection plates by sending mechanical impulses, or vibrations, to the plates. Precipitator plates are rapped periodically while maintaining the continuous fluegas cleaning process. In other words, the plates are rapped while the ESP is on-line; the gas flow continues through the precipitator and the applied voltage remains constant. Plates are rapped when the accumulated dust layer is relatively thick (0.08 to 1.27 cm or 0.03 to 0.5 in.). This allows the dust layer to fall off the plates as large aggregate sheets and helps eliminate dust re-entrainment. Most precipitators have adjustable rappers so that rapper intensity and frequency can be changed according to the dust concentration in the flue gas. Installations where the dust concentration is heavy require more frequent rapping.

Dislodged dust falls from the plates into the hopper. The hopper is a single collection bin with sides sloping approximately 50 to 70 to allow dust to flow freely from the top of the hopper to the discharge opening. Dust should be removed as soon as possible to avoid (dust) packing. Packed dust is very difficult to remove. Most hoppers are emptied by some type of discharge device and then transported by a conveyor.






High-voltage equipment determines and controls the strength of the electric field generated between the discharge and collection electrodes. This is accomplished by using power supply sets consisting of three components: 1. step-up transformer 2. high-voltage rectifier 3. control metering and protection circuitry (automatic circuitry).

The Transformer-rectifier (T-R) set steps up the voltage from 400 volts to approximately 50,000 volts. This high voltage ionizes gas molecules that charge particles in the flue gas. The rectifier converts alternating current to direct current. Direct (or unidirectional current) is required for electrical precipitation. Most modern precipitators use solid-state silicon rectifiers and oil-filled, high-voltage transformers. The control circuitry in a modern precipitator is usually a Siliconcontrolled Rectifier (SCR) automatic voltage controller with a linear reactor in the primary side of the transformer.




Primary voltmeter. This meter measures the input voltage, in a.c. volts, coming into the transformer. The input voltage ranges from 220 to 480 volts; however, most modern precipitators use 400 to 480 volts. The meter is located across the primary winding of the transformer. Primary ammeter. This meter measures the current drawn across the transformer in amperes. The primary ammeter is located across the primary winding (wires wound in the coil) of the transformer.

Secondary voltmeter. This meter measures, in d.c. volts, the operating voltage delivered to the discharge electrodes. The meter is located between the output side of the rectifier and the discharge electrodes. Secondary ammeter. This meter measures the current supplied to the discharge electrodes in mill amperes. The secondary ammeter is located between the rectifier output and the automatic control module. The combination of the secondary voltage and current readings gives the power input to the discharge electrodes.

Spark meter. This meter measures the number of sparks per minute in the precipitator section. Sparks are surges of localized electric current between the discharge electrodes and the collection plate.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. AC current high DC under voltage DC over voltage H/W SCR firing Synchronization fail Top float Bottom float Oil temp. high Oil temp. high SCR temp high Over load = = = = = = = = = = =
Primary AC current high trip Sec. DC voltage low trip

Sec. DC voltage high trip Single SCR firing trip Syn. signal fail trip Top float alarm Bottom float trip Oil temp. high alarm Oil temp. high trip SCR temp high trip Over load trip

E-1 E-2 E-3 E-4

= = = =

Safety line (hardware interlock) Program controller is faulty Internal mains faulty Controller communication faulty


INSPECTION DOORS: Inspection doors are provided at different locations of the electrostatic precipitator. They are to be used for checks and inspections during standstill periods only E.g: supporting insulators, heating elements, discharge electrodes, rapping devices, collecting electordes.

COLLECTING ELECTRODE SYSTEM: The collecting electrodes are made of cold rolled profiled plates. The collecting electrodes are movably hung in rows on suspension bars. They are guided at the bottom end by the rapping bars without hampering their thermal expansion. Two collecting electrodes of each row are connected to the rapping bar by supporting pins.

DISCHARGE ELECTRODE SYSTEM: Which are virtually unbreakable. They are fixed at the upper discharge frame so that they are exactly in the centre of two collecting electrodes. GAS DISTRIBUTION: The gas distribution consists of perforated sheets in the inlet transition and the baffle plates in the outlet transition. Every row of perforated sheets in the inlet is connected with the next row by connection bars.


The collecting plates rapping device consists of the rapping hammers. Which are fixed in spirals on the rapping shaft, the shaft itself and the geared motor. Every electrical field has its own collecting electrodes rapping device.

The discharge rapping device consists of the rapping hammers, which are fixed in spirals on the rapping shaft, the shaft itself, the pinwheel, the ratchets, the lifting rod, the rapping insulator and the geared motor. Every electrical field has its own discharge electrodes rapping device.

INSULATOR HEATING: The insulator heatings around the supporting insulators hold the temperature inside the insulator compartments above the dew point temperature of the gas to be cleaned. This prevents that the surface of the insulator itself becomes humid. This would lead to flash over's on the surface under high tension and consequently destroy the insulator. The heating elements are constantly turned ON. They are switched OFF only during longer standstill periods, for example maintenance stops. The insulator heating have to be started at least 4 hours before starting, respectively gas flows through the electrostatic precipitator.


The collecting electrodes are held in rows by rapping bars, which are equipped with anvils. Flail hammers, which are mounted in spirals on the rapping shaft, hit the anvils of the rapping bars. The impact of the blow is transferred to the collecting electrodes, shaking off the dust layer. The hammers are hitting the anvils individually in a certain sequence in order to prevent a temporary overload of the dust conveying system.

The rapping shaft is driven by a geared motor, which is connected by a flexible coupling. The default rapping cycle setting is as furnished below.
1st FIELD ON TIME OFF TIME 6 sec. 10 min. 2nd FIELD 6 sec. 45 min. 3rd FIELD 6 sec. 100 min. 4th FIELD 6 sec. 120 min.

This rapping cycle time is to ensure adequate rapping to the CE system for dislodging the dust.

Bus couplers provided in the ESP- one in between 1st and 2nd field and second in between 3rd and 4th field. The bus coupler will take care of 2 fields through a single transformer.

Every high tension set is equipped with a single pole earthing switch. All parts of the electrostatic precipitator, which are on high tension, can immediately be earthed by the earthing switches.

prior to entering into an electrostatic precipitator, all parts which are on high tension must be manually earthed at the inspection door itself. This is a very important personal safety protection against switching on the high voltage by any possible mistake.



The inspection doors of the electrostatic are locked by a mechanical interlocking system against unauthorized opening. They can only be opened after the high voltage is turned OFF and the high tension sets are earthed. In the reverse case the high voltage cant be turned ON as long as some inspection doors are opened and the high tension sets are earthed.


Temperature of gas Gas volume Moisture content Gas velocity within the ESP Inlet dust concentration Size of the dust particle Dust resistivity Dust composition

The electrical properties detoriate with increase in temperature. Flashover limit decreases thereby operating voltage have to be brought down to avoid back corona. This weakens field strength and consequent force on the particles. So migration velocity decreases and thus ESP performance deteriorates. A lower temperature also is detrimental. If it falls below acid dew point, corrosion gives rise to every possible problem on structural and mechanical aspect of ESP

Increase in gas volume decreases specific collecting area. so increase in gas volume decreases the collection efficiency. Specific collecting area = Total effective collecting surface / Gas volume.

Moisture content has a large influence on the performance on ESP. it directly effects voltage and current characteristics thereby resistively of dust. Increases in moisture and improves the precipitation performance.

The velocity of gas effects the migration velocity. Due to high gas velocity migration velocity is decreased. The low gas velocity also decreases the ESP efficiency due to gas ratification i.e. hot gas passes through upper zone and cold gas passes through lower zone.

Increase in inlet dust burden increases outlet emission level even after maintaining same efficiency

Precipitator performance should increase with increase in particle size because the largest particles receive charge more quickly and attains migration velocity.

Worst effect of high resistivity dust is the formation of back corona. Due to back corona spark over between the discharge electrode and collecting electrodes also occurs. Energy consuming also increases. To avoid back corona we must decrease the current density. So operating voltage decreases and hence consequent loss occurs in collection efficiency Fly ash resistivity below 2X1010 ohm-cm dont affect the performance of ESP voltage and corona current. Above 1012 ohm-cm causes sparks and sever back corona. Critical resistivity is 2X1010 ohm-cm.

Performance of ESP largely influenced by the composition and morphology of dust like presence of SULPHUR oxides, ALKALI metals (Sodium, Lithium, Potassium) which increase the moisture absorbing capacity of the dust and thus decreasing its resistivity.

The purpose of gas distribution is to achieve uniform gas flow and thereby distribute the inlet dust burden evenly over the whole cross section of the field without under utilizing or over burdening a particular zone. A permissible limit in the distribution is kept within 20% to achieve the desired performance.

Ensure that men and material clear from the ESP after maintenance. Ensure that all inspection doors are locked/closed properly. Ensure that earth switch must be open. Ensure that all mechanical interlocks are correct and the respective keys should be preserved properly in place provided for smooth operation. Start the insulator heatings at least 4 hours before starting the plant. Start the hopper heating at least 4 hours before starting the plant. Start the high tension T/R sets at the in let flue gas temp 120 deg.C. Start the dust conveying system Start the rapping system


Switch OFF the high tension T/R sets, by bringing down the set values to zero. Leave the auxiliaries e.g. hopper heaters, seal air blower, rapping system and conveying system running. After 4 hours of Boiler shutdown keep the auxiliaries OFF ( as per ash levels).


Switch OFF 1st field and 2nd field T/R. Remove the keys corresponding from the panel. Insert the key at T/R end and rotate the grounding switch to earth position. Change the bus coupler individual position to 2nd field position. Change the found switch of TR2 to HT position Remove the keys and charge the fields through T/R-2.

1. Maintain the process parameters within the specified limits 2. Keep the EXP temp. below the max. permissible limit of 200 Deg.C. 3. Evacuate the ESP hoppers at a regular interval. 4. Adjust the TR setting to operate ESP fields with minimum sparks 5. Keep the required readings in a log book for reference 6. Put the correct GRADE of oil in rapping motor gear-box. 7. Allow proper combustion in the boiler to avoid fire/damage to ESP. 8. Avoid accumulation of un-burnt in the hoppers as it may lead to hopper fire and damage to ESP.

1. Do not exceed the specified temp. limit. This can damage the equipment/plant. 2. Do not bypass the interlock. 3. Do not enter the ESP without cooling and gas analysis against presence of any poisonous gases. 4. Do not stop the conveying equipments below the ESP when the equipments are in operation. 5. Do not by pass any safety requirement. 6. Do not keep ESP fields on if the hopper level is high. 7. Do not ignore any fault signal from any equipment. 8. Do not run the rapping motors without gear box oil. 9. Do not use the hopper as silo. 10. Do not over rap the ESP. 11. Do not run the ESP with faulty controller.