The Top 3 Strategies For Maintaining An Electrostatic Precipitator

Precipitators have been used for air pollution control for close to 100 years. They remain important because of their ability to efficiently process large amounts of flue gas. But while factories depend on precipitators, they don’t always get sufficient maintenance attention until something goes wrong. 

In this post, Jeremy Vaughn, Senior Parts Manager at our precipitator parts warehouse, shares maintenance strategies. Jeremy spent several years as a Field Service Engineer and Field Service Engineering Manager, and he says the top 3 strategies for maintaining your electrostatic precipitator are:

  • Regularly inspect its moving parts 
  • Keep it hot and happy
  • Ensure access to replacement parts

Maintaining Your Precipitator

Inspect and Document Your  Precipitator’s Moving Parts

Some companies install what are called “European” precipitator designs. European designs have internal hammers and a lot of moving internal parts. They are like Rube Goldberg machines inside.  These moving internal pieces that can fail, get jammed up, and even fall into another piece of equipment, causing it to fail. 

Southern Field-EEC installs and maintains what some people call an “American” precipitator design with few moving components. One of its moving parts is a drag scraper, which is an assembly of large chains with scraper bars that scrape across the floor. As particulate falls, the drag scraper grabs it and rakes it over into another conveyor that carries it away. Those components are susceptible to many different failure modes, so it’s important to regularly assess the condition of the bearings, sprockets, and chains. 

Documenting wear on a precipitator’s internal moving parts is very important. This all begins with thorough inspections and reporting to help establish a timeline of wear.   For example, if within your records, you can see that you had ⅛” of wear 5 years ago, and 2 years ago, you had ¼” of wear. Then you now know that you’re losing about ⅛” every 3 years, and at this rate, it’s going to be gone by this time next year. That helps us determine the priority of repairs during an outage and for anticipated repairs in the future.  

You are only equipped to make that decision if you monitor your moving parts and keep detailed documentation with your inspection report.

Keep it Hot and Happy

The other key to maintaining a precipitator is “keep it hot and happy.” Precipitators run hot flue gas through the precipitator at about 280 to 300 Fahrenheit, and when that drops below about 220 to 230 degrees, you start getting flue gas condensation. This includes all kinds of chemical compounds like sulfuric acid that will create a corrosive environment inside the unit. We’ve seen a ¼” plate completely gone just one year after it was installed.  You want to do everything you can to reduce this from happening. That is why we say keep precipitators hot and happy. 

Keep your casing in good condition with good insulation to maintain temperature and avoid flue gas condensation.  For instance, let’s look at how weather may encourage the importance of insulation and casing.  During winter, your outside temperature may be 20 degrees, and your precipitator is operating with 300-degree air rushing in. If you don’t have good insulation, you get flue gas condensation. Keeping your penthouse blowers/heaters, casing, and conveyor heaters in good condition is key.   They keep the exterior of the precipitator hot to avoid condensation. But maintaining your casing is still essential whether you have heaters or not.

If you have a flue gas condensation problem, the inside of your precipitator can start to look like swiss cheese with holes in your unit that allow for tramp air. That will tend to make you overdrive your fan. Developing a thorough inspection report to guide your next planned outage can help you avoid this. 

Contact us here to learn more about improving your precipitator efficiency! 

Industrial Parts for Your Electrostatic Precipitators

We stock a large selection of custom parts for the precipitators we support in our warehouse. Our location in Jacksonville gives us access to a deep-water port, a busy interstate system, and a convenient airport so we can get parts anywhere in the US and even internationally within a day. 

Most of our customers also like to keep an inventory of routine maintenance parts. We work with customers to assess their equipment to develop a recommended parts list. This has become especially important as supply chain issues have made some things difficult to source. We believe the best way to prevent supply chain issues from causing problems is to keep a good supply of parts on hand and work with a trusted supplier who has engineering expertise in the parts department. 

If you want to develop your parts list, contact our parts department! We offer expert consultation and expedited shipping. Our warehouse has over 475 individual parts currently in stock, including OEM parts from EEC precipitators, as well as parts for Flakt/Alstom, Wheelabrator, Joy/Western, HRC, and others.  See our precipitator parts catalog here, or call our parts hotline at 800-727-8332.

Contact us to find out more about our precipitator inspection services. Your precipitator will thank you!