Making the Case For Investing in Triboelectric Monitoring - Part 1

Posted by Justin Dechene on Aug 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

NOTE: This is the first installment of a two part article. Click here to read part two!

Engineers need to present compelling reasons to persuade decision-makers to invest in triboelectric dust monitoring systems. Often companies only spend what's required on compliance.  And simply saying “it will save money and make things simpler” is often not enough to convince them to take up the cause and invest not just the money, but also their time and resources into the project. Persuading them may require changing how they view emissions compliance responsibilities in general. 

Engineer trying to decide on how to present a triboelectric dust monitoring equipment investment to decision-makers

Changing the Way Compliance Is Viewed

Often times, many “decision-makers” view compliance issues as a “check the box” type requirement, rather than an integral part of the business operation that has a direct bearing on profitability. Convincing administrators that these innovative dust monitoring solutions bring not only simplified compliance, but also offer potential for savings and quick ROI, can be difficult without gathering measurable evidence beforehand.

When these systems are brought to the decision table for discussion, many administrators will ask how they’re worth the investment, and what benefits they can bring to the company. It is important to present it as less of a technical decision and more of a legitimate business decision. This can be done by highlighting the weaknesses in the existing monitoring system and clearly outlining its negative impact from a business perspective (downtime, increased labor costs and man-hours, lost production, ancillary costs, lost profits, etc.). Make sure to present a detailed summary of past compliance events along with direct and indirect costs associated with them. This establishes the current compliance situation and the cost to the company. It also gives context for your future discussion of technical specs, features and benefits.

Now comes the time to present alternative solutions (e.g. a late model Tribo-BLDS) that can improve on this situation. The key is to present a viable alternative that will remedy the aforementioned issues. When presenting triboelectric monitoring as a solution to a current compliance arrangement, focus your presentation on four key areas (two of which we will discuss in this article)

Four Areas Triboelectric Dust Monitoring Can Produce Returns

Improved Emissions Control

The latest generation of triboelectric detectors are the most accurate and reliable method of measuring particulate emissions. Other monitoring devices/systems such as opacity monitors, visual methods (EPA Method 9 and 22) and baghouse differential pressure are less accurate, may require extensive and/or frequent calibration, or are subjective and not reliable in industries with tough emissions standards (most newer MACT standards require that bag leak detection systems be installed).

Additionally, by providing extremely sensitive and accurate emissions measurements, triboelectric detectors help operators determine the effectiveness of their emissions controls, which is useful when investigating new control technologies or techniques (e.g. new style filters, process modifications, operational changes, etc.)

Quantifiable Benefits - “Fines and shutdowns due to exceeding emissions limits set out in our air permits cost us $X over the last X years. Triboelectric monitoring will help reduce incidents by providing early warning and provide accurate feedback on new control methods.”

Easier Compliance Reporting

Triboelectric detectors are simpler to use than other methods, reducing time required to take readings, compile data and draft reports. Visual inspections (EPA Method 9 and Method 22) require yearly certifications for testers, are subjective, and unreliable [only confirm rough estimate of opacity (method 9) or whether visible emissions are present or not (method 22).] Less-sensitive opacity meters only alert when emissions reach levels that require incident reporting (i.e. reportable events) and often require calibration, can foul easily and give false readings. Baghouse differential pressure readings while an excellent way of monitoring baghouse performance, are not reliable guides to emissions levels and often must be checked manually at each unit.

In contrast, triboelectric systems record real-time emissions data, are sensitive enough for the most stringent of emissions standards (measure down to 0.000002 g/dscf (0.005 mg/m3), and more reliable. Multiple sensors can be networked together with a plant’s control systems, PLC and other devices for centralized viewing and recording of data. Additionally, specialized software from Auburn Systems allows for easy compiling of required data for air permits reporting. No more tedious “cut and paste” action required by other systems.

Quantifiable Benefits - “Gathering data and generating reports currently requires XX man-hours on average per report, costing us approximately X per report. A triboelectric monitoring system will simplify the process (cite specific benefit based on the current process used at your facility).”


So far we have seen that persuading decision-makers to invest in compliance technology is not simply a matter of showing some marketing materials and saying “it will make things run better”. Engineers/technicians will need to help change the way compliance is viewed and make a case for investing time and capital into the project. This can be done by outlining the current system and its limitations, then presenting historical data from the plant showing the losses generated by current limitations and then highlighting how the new technology can improve on those failings.

We have seen two areas where triboelectric dust detection equipment can lead to direct savings for plants. In part 2 of our article, we will discuss two additional areas where these systems can bring significant savings that will catch the attention of decision-makers.


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Topics: Baghouse Maintenance, Triboelectric Detection