Demonstrating Efficiency Through New Industry Standards
Scientific Dust Collectors
Scientific Dust Collectors manufactures superior equipment for dry dust collection. “We clean the filters better than anyone else in the world,” says Mike Gerardi, General Manager at SDC. “That’s our claim to fame; that’s what makes us scientific. We pay attention to the cleaning mechanisms, and our cleaning systems work best in the industry.”
Scientific Dust Collectors was established in 1979 by a group of company engineers in Louisville, Kentucky. In the late 1970s, as the pollution control industry was beginning to grow, the founders of SDC began to concentrate on developing a technology that could minimize the pollutants released into the air by dust collection equipment. Their solution used a nozzle-based system to clean the filters more efficiently than the competing products available at the time. SDC patented this innovation and has incorporated it into almost every piece of equipment it manufactures. Since that time, the company has developed a broad range of novel technologies and holds fourteen patents.
In 1995, SDC moved its headquarters to Alsip, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Today, the US and Canada are the two primary markets for SDC, although it does have some customers outside of North America. It is a division of Venturedyne, Ltd., a large corporation with multiple divisions in various fields related to pollution control and magnetics detection/separation.
With twenty-five to thirty employees, SDC is still a relatively small company, and this has allowed it to maintain a focus on customer service. “We believe in trying to be responsive, and we listen to what our customers say,” says Gerardi. “Because we are small, we are flexible, and one of the things I am proudest of in all my years here is that many of our customers are repeat customers.”
As the pollution control industry continues to grow, so does SDC. It remains relevant in its market by manufacturing the highest quality equipment, providing efficient cleaning systems, and introducing new products.
“One of the things that we do differently than most other dust collector manufacturers is we make our own stuff. We design, engineer and manufacture our own equipment,” says David Wick, sales manager at SDC. Rather than sending a design to a local job shop, SDC chooses to design, build, and assemble its cleaning equipment in-house to have complete control over the product’s quality.
The company builds quality baghouses, cartridge dust collectors, bin vent dust collectors, high-pressure filter receivers, cyclones, and downdraft tables. SDC’s baghouse dust collector is its primary product. A baghouse is a structure containing a number of cylindrical fabric filter bags that collect a layer of dust on the surface of the fabric until no more air can pass through, at which time the caked particulate is removed and the clean bags are ready to resume filtering. The cleaning is done on-line without having to shut the process down.
Baghouse dust collectors are ideally suited to capture dusts that are larger or more difficult to clean. Dusts that are high temperature or hygroscopic are better suited for collection in baghouse dust collectors. In addition, larger dust sizes (greater than 50 microns) and higher grain loadings (over five grains per cubic foot) are ideal for baghouse units. Dusts that have a tendency to form films that solidify should be handled in fabric baghouse collectors. If hydrocarbons are present in the airstream, the same problems may occur. For these types of applications, baghouses are recommended because the dust cake may require flexing before the cake will burst. Some examples of dust that are collected using fabric filter baghouses are: flyash, coal, cement, lime, fiberglass, paper, plastic, sawdust, and other stringy or irregular shaped dusts.
Cartridge dust collectors are ideally suited to capture granular shaped dusts. These are free-flowing materials that collect on the outside of the cartridge filter pleats and are easily released from the media during the cleaning cycle. Cartridge collectors are ideally suited for smaller particle dust sizes (less than 50 microns) and low grain loading levels (less than five grains per cubic foot). Some examples of dusts that are collected using cartridge collectors are grinding or sandblast applications, welding fumes, laser and plasma cutter fumes, graphite, pharmaceutical powders, and fine chemical powders. These dusts require minimal flexing of the media during the cleaning process; thus, cartridge collectors will work satisfactorily on these products. When the dusts are difficult to handle, hygroscopic, or high temperature, a fabric filter baghouse is a better alternative for trouble-free dust collection and longer filter life.
SDC suggests its performance superiority relies on its patented high velocity cleaning technology and best practices in dust collector manufacturing. The company’s high side inlets, wide filter spacing, inlet baffling, and the elimination of the flow restricting Venturi allow for a guarantee in performance, efficiency, and filter life.
Another advantage offered is energy savings. On generic collectors, the Venturi passes a liquid or gas through a narrowed passage that increases the speed of the flow and reduces its pressure. SDC removes the flow restricting Venturi and is able to save its customers two inches of water column, which is a reduction of two inches of static pressure. In higher-volume dust collection systems, this can significantly save electrical and compressed air costs.
“If a customer has a seventy-five-horsepower motor that they’re running all the time and we can save them two inches of static pressure, that is true electrical savings, and the more they operate and the higher the horsepower being used, the more energy savings are available to them,” says Gerardi. “That’s unique, and we’re the only ones that do it.” As many large manufacturers continue to develop green initiatives and improve lean processes, SDC hopes to make a name for itself as the leading provider of baghouse dust collectors.
The challenge is in raising awareness and educating others in the industry about the benefits of its dust collectors. People too often continue to use traditional methods despite advancements because they are more comfortable with what is familiar. Luckily, there is much more concern about efficiency and proper maintenance these days, and this has increased the company’s customer base. SDC guarantees the effectiveness and longevity of its filters in writing. The company has found a better way to collect dust, and fortunately, new standardization in the industry will help validate its claims.
Prior to 1987, the dust collection industry lacked a clearly defined specification for measuring equipment performance, and the only real standard had been air-to-cloth ratio. The air-to-cloth ratio measures the amount of air that passes through a given area of filter. It can help measure the quality of those filters and can help determine how many filters will be needed, but it does not consider many important factors such as operating conditions and the collector’s design. This lack of a clear specification made it difficult for companies like SDC to accurately quantify equipment performance and effectively compare its products to those of competitors.
In 1987, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed a new specification called Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), which given heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers the ability to rate air filters on a scale of one to twenty. On the MERV scale, a rating of one through four is used for a low-performance filter like a standard residential air conditioning unit capable of filtering dust and pollen, while twenty represents high-performance filters for use in laboratory environments and clean rooms.
While the MERV rating system was designed as a metric for HVAC equipment, before long, the dust collection industry began using it to rate its own filters. MERV provided a standard for measuring filter performance, but it was not a perfect match for dust collection, having been designed for a completely different application.
Finally, in 2016, ASHRAE released Standard 199, a specification designed explicitly for testing the performance of dust collection equipment. This standard means that dust collection engineers can rate equipment in a strict and thorough six-stage process. Each stage tests a particular aspect of the equipment’s performance under very precise conditions. This results in a rating that can be easily compared to other Standard 199 rated products on the market.
Throughout the history of the dust collection industry, engineers have been forced to fall back on inadequate rating systems, but thanks to ASHRAE’s new standard, SDC can truly demonstrate the quality of its products.
“This is our chance to show the world how great our cleaning system really is. We’re excited about ASHRAE because it’s going to give some of the companies, including some of the large companies that have never heard of Scientific Dust Collectors, a way to objectively look at the test data. Our results aren’t published yet but they will be soon, and we believe the marketplace is going to be pleased with what we will be showing them,” says Gerardi.
Prior to the release of ASHRAE’s Standard 199, SDC did its own testing and published its own results. The company could demonstrate the quality of its products, but because the results came directly from SDC, the company was depending on customers to have trust in the integrity of the data it was releasing. Fortunately, the company has built a good, honest reputation with its customers, and they are confident in its abilities.
Now that the company is utilizing ASHRAE’s standard, customers can be confident in SDC products without having to blindly trust company claims about testing, engineering, and math. The new standard has given the company the opportunity to have a third party(s) verify its claims, and based on the lack of any published results to date, will be the only company to do so.
For the average end user, SDC’s adoption of the standard might mean a significant improvement in production capacity. Companies that generate pollutants have to file for permits based on how much dust and other pollutants are put into the atmosphere. Standard 199 will give SDC’s customers an extremely accurate measurement that could allow them to push production as close to permitted maximums as possible, rather than having to work with estimates and a much larger buffer. It can also enable these companies to file more accurate reports and reduce pollutant output, leading to more efficient operation and an improved bottom line.
“The ability to look at the results and compare that to others helps them say which equipment will work for them. There will be some companies that will be quite uncomfortable with that, but after all these years, we welcome this,” says Gerardi.