Electric soot collector cuts particulate emissions from wood heaters
A wood fire is a cosy way to warm up, but sadly they have adverse effects on human health and the environment. But a new soot collector device could help reduce particulate emissions by attracting particles with an electric field.
Wood smoke carries tiny particles that can get into the respiratory system and wreak all kinds of havoc on health. They can cause illnesses like bronchitis, trigger and worsen asthma attacks, and even contribute to cardiovascular problems. The worst offender is particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers wide, known as PM2.5.
For a new study, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have developed a device that can capture these fine particles. Known as a high-temperature electric soot collector (HiTESC), the system is made up of a high-voltage electrode that generates an electric field. This is installed in the combustion chamber of a wood-fired stove or heater, where it attracts charged particles produced by the flames. These settle onto the surface of the electrode, where they are then oxidized at high temperatures.
The team tested the system in a masonry heater, comparing particle emissions from days with the HiTESC device running to those with it switched off. They found that HiTESC had a reduction efficiency of 45 percent, for very fine particles of 1 micrometer wide (PM1).
“The advantages of HiTESC are its simple construction, low space requirement, and low energy consumption,” says Heikki Suhonen, first author of the study. “In addition, it doesn’t require a separate cleaning mechanism. HiTESC can also be retrofitted in logwood-fired combustion appliances to achieve future emission regulation limits, without using costly exhaust after-treatment systems.”
The team says that the reduction efficiency could be improved by optimizing the electric field produced by the electrodes, and by designing combustion devices with these electrostatic systems built-in.
The technology is currently being commercialized by a start-up called Noeton.
Source: University of Eastern Finland