How a wet dust collector can prevent a violent explosion (and more!)


Courtesy of ProVent, LLC

Explosive dust is a major concern among metal finishing operations, and recent changes in the National Fire Protection Association regulations have made compliance more difficult. Metalwork grinding and sanding produces a fine metallic dust that, even after being filtered from the air, can smolder, catch fire, or even explode violently if it’s exposed to a spark. Aluminum, lithim, magnesium, niobium, tantalum, titanium, zirconium, and steel all require special care with their dusts.

Enter the wet dust collector. By switching to wet dust collection, many companies are improving their fire safety compliance and putting the kibosh on the chances of a major explosion ruining their financial future.

Wet dust filtration uses fans to suck the air out of the workspace and through, depending on the technique used, either a vat or a sheet of falling or sprayed water. Whichever technique is used, the particulate in the air hits the water and, through a variety of physical mechanics, is pulled from the air, which proceeds outward free of dangerous particles. A centrifuge removes the metallic sludge from the water, which can be reused indefinitely. The sludge can be dried and put to use as metal powder, or (more often) is mixed into concrete where it can be useful (and harmless.)

Wet dust collection doesn’t limit itself to large-scale, building-wide scales, either. Individual work tables using downdraft technology to blow particulate immediately out of the air and into the wet filtration system can limit each individual’s particulate output and allow normally-incompatible operations like aluminum grinding and steel sanding to take place adjacent to one another without danger.

For operations that need the larger-scale filtration, it’s frequently wise to combine wet dust collection with other methods of filtration. Depending on whether you have coarse dust in the air (>50 microns) or very fine dust (cyclone dust collector or a dry filter, respectively, to take care of the kinds of particulate most likely to make it through a wet dust collector unfiltered.

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