A Bug in the Electrostatic Precipitator
Imagine for a moment that you are a big moth, flying through a forest. Suddenly, you see a beautiful light shining from a porch in the distance. You race towards it, entrapped by its beauty. Surely a thing this magnificent will be a wonderful place to rest. As you get closer, you notice a lot of other moths already lying down inside the caged light. You were right; it is a good place to rest! You get closer, pass through the entrance, already picking out your perfect spot to call your own when – ZAP! An electronic charge passes through you and you are thrown to the ground, never to fly again.
A very common situation like this is similar to what happens inside an electrostatic precipitator when it is used to control air pollution. When an unwanted substance (like the moth, RIP) enters the environment, an electrostatic charge is applied and the particle is removed by way of force. In this case however, the moth would most likely be too big of an object for the electronic precipitator to remove as they usually deal with dust, smoke, or other similar materials. In some cases, difficult material like acid and tar can be collected.
Advantages to using electrostatic precipitators is that they have a relatively low instillation cost and serve as a highly efficient way to control air pollution, since they only apply energy to the particles being collected. Cleaning the systems is also a breeze, since it can be done without interrupting the flow of the machine.
So the next time you are sitting on your porch drinking a cold beverage and listening to Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits and you hear that bug zapper go off in the distance, think first of that poor moth, but also of how electrostatic precipitators are keeping our air and environment a cleaner place.