Triboelectric and the Evolution of Environmental Compliance from Hassle to Benefit

From Opacity Hassles to Operational Value

With such a disjointed set of strategies and devices used for environmental compliance today many wonder how things ended up like this. Let's explore the history of environmental compliance monitoring technologies and see how we ended up where we are today. 

And then, given today's capabilities, explore how some companies turn the traditional regulatory headache into an opportunity for legitimate operational value creation.

Early Days - Visual Observations 

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Supplementing the Use of Differential Pressure with Triboelectric Broken Bag Detection

For many, differential pressure has been the only operation data they have ever monitored on their dust collection system. For decades, DP  has been the go to for monitoring performance, used as an indicator of total emissions and for diagnosing maintenance issues. Even though monitoring technology has advanced significantly since the 1970s when these regulations were first put forth, many plants continue operating under their older requirements.  "That's what we've always done," and "That's what my permit calls for us to do," usually lead the way.  Even today where superior monitoring methods are available, it is common to find plants that feel there is no need to monitor anything more than their DP to achieve compliance. 

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3 Tips to Eliminate Unplanned Downtime Due to Your Industrial Dust Collector

The Huge Cost of Unplanned Downtime

Recent survey of auto industry manufacturing executives shows stopped production costs an average $22,000 per minute. A similar study found that of the facilities that can calculate the cost of downtime, most under estimate it by 300% on average! With this in mind, consider that when an industrial dust collector goes down, it almost always takes its associated system(s) down with it. In fact, in many facilities dust collectors used for pollution control must operate at all times. Any malfunction results in a mandatory shutdown of the entire process and even the facility. With downtime costs running into the tens of thousands per minute in many cases, we can see that these costs far outweigh the average costs to maintain the dust collector properly.

When the cost of downtime / hour or shift is measured in the thousands, properly maintaining an industrial dust collector isn't expensive.

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An Overview of NFPA 654 and a note on recirculating air from industrial dust collectors

Planning for recirculating from a dust collector

NFPA 654 Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids provides general guidelines for combustible dust control in industry. The NFPA also has two standards that cover specific guidelines for explosion protection systems (NFPA 68) and explosion prevention systems (NFPA 69). There are also three other standards for specific industries that require slightly different (usually stricter) regulation. These include NFPA 61 that concerns agricultural facilities, NFPA 484 covering combustible metals and NFPA 664 covering woodworking facilities. 

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Can I use visual Methods 9 and 22 for opacity monitoring under my air permit?

New solutions for air permit monitoring

For generations opacity monitoring was essentially the only monitoring option for dust collector operators across all industries. Many plants continue to operate that way, allowing older air permits to just renew without any changes if possible. Because of this, opacity monitoring still forms a key part of their compliance monitoring, even though there may be better methods of monitoring available.  But when it comes to opacity monitoring what kind of options are available? 

Stack Monitoring for Air Permits

The basic idea of a stack observation of opacity is to try to quantify how much particulate is emitted from the stack by determining how much light it blocks from passing through the plume. This measurement of the plumes light blocking power is called opacity. The more dust in the air the more light is scattered/blocked. Prior to 1974 all emissions monitoring was based on the Ringelmann system first developed in the late 19 century to monitoring coal emissions. This system outlined a set of procedures on how an observer could take a visual reading of opacity by viewing the emission source (e.g. stack) from a distance during daytime.  In 1974, the EPA revised the test into the current EPA opacity observation standard methods in an attempt to make the test more reliable and less prone to observer bias. These methods or instructions for conducting the test are known as EPA Methods 9 and 22. 

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Reporting Software & Triboelectric Dust Monitoring Data Collection

One thing engineers in countless industries often discover when integrating dust monitoring systems in their facilities is the need for an advanced software system for managing and organizing emissions data. Many monitoring suppliers actually produce their own data management software tools, compatible with their detection systems and others, that serve just this purpose.

When evaluating dust monitoring data software options, your best bet is a system that both meets your compliance reporting needs and your company’s individual needs; similar to selecting monitoring hardware, this shouldn’t be a bottom-line, “check-the-box” compliance decision.

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The Savings Opportunities Hidden in Emissions Compliance Reporting

One of the major factors that many engineers or company decision-makers often forget about compliance is how air quality control technology can also bring financial benefits to facilities, most often in the form of reduced labor, material savings and risk prevention.

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Methods for Measuring PM Emissions and Fabric Filter Performance Part 2

As we considered in our article Different Methods for Measuring PM Emissions and Filter Performance, plants face a difficult task comparing data derived from various methods of measuring PM emissions. Often  fabric filter manufacturers, dust collection system OEMs and other product manufacturers use units that are different than those used by regulatory authorities for emissions standards and for specific requirements of air permits.  

In the last article we considered methodologies used by control equipment manufacturers and their purpose such as grains per standard dry cubic foot, or parts per million. Now we will consider those used by regulatory agencies, their reasons for doing so, and how we can convert back and forth between them when needed. 

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Use Your Next Air Permit Renewal to Improve Three Baghouse Frustrations

A Hassle, but an opportunity

Many air permits are outdated. Sure, they're still approved and "compliant" but they were written around technology that was available at the time. Typically that is much less accurate than what's available today, and often relies on systems which require frequent calibration, have significant labor requirements, fail to provide early warning of impending issues and involves data management and reporting burdens. But often when an air permit renewal date approaches, it's just one more hassle - and many permits are simply resubmitted with the same language time after time.

But for many plants, their compliance assurance monitoring plans (CAM Plans) are seriously out of date. 

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Controlling Particle Velocity to Reduce Blockages in Pneumatic Conveying Systems

Common systems and common frustrations

Dilute phase and dense (bulk) phase pneumatic conveying systems are widely used in industrial facilities for moving materials throughout a facility and as part of larger dust collection systems. They are efficient and effective - but they're also the cause of many frustrations. Frequent blockages, unplanned downtime, material attrition, energy cost and maintenance are all common complaints. In all cases, keeping the system free of blockages is crucial for proper operation. Blockages can lead to process disruption and lost production. They can also cause damage to the conveying system or other connected equipment. In other situations they create severe fire or explosion hazards when handling combustible dusts. 

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