Remediation Technologies Screening Matrix, Version 4.0 4.58 Scrubbers
(Off-Gas Treatment Technology)
  Description Synonyms Applicability Limitations Site Information Points of Contact
Data Needs Performance Cost References Vendor Info. Health & Safety
Table of Contents
Technology>>Air Emissions/Off-Gas Treatment

>>3.14 Air Emissions/Off-Gas Treatment

      >>4.58 Scrubbers
Introduction>> Scrubber is an air washer with refinement device  which is used for cleaning gases from soluble or particulates. It even treats fumes on line.


Figure 4-58:
Typical Scrubber Diagram

Generally, there are two broad classifications of air pollution controls referred to as scrubbers:

Wet Scrubbers

Wet scrubbers remove air pollutants by inertial of diffusional impaction, reaction with a sorbent or reagent slurry, or absorbtion into a liquid
solvent.  These types of scrubbers can be used to control particulate matter (PM), including particulate matter less than or equal to 10 micrometers (µm) in aerodynamic diameter (PM10 ), particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5 ), and hazardous air pollutants (HAP) in particulate form (PMHAP ); and inorganic fumes, vapors, and gases (e.g., chromic acid, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, chlorides, fluorides, and SO2 ). These types of scrubbers may also occasionally be used to control volatile organic compounds (VOC). Hydrophilic VOC may be controlled with an aqueous fluid, and hydrophobic VOC may be controlled with an amphiphilic block copolymer in the water. However, very little data exist for this application. When using absorption as the primary control technique, the spent solvent must be easily regenerated or disposed of in an environmentally acceptable manner (EPA, 1991).

Configurations of Wet Scrubbers

Orifice scrubbers form a category of gas-atomized spray scrubbers in which a tube or a duct of some other shape forms the gas-liquid contacting zone. The particle-laden gas stream is forced to pass over the surface of a pool of scrubbing liquid at high velocity, entraining it as droplets as it enters an orifice. The gas stream flowing through the orifice atomizes the entrained liquid droplets in essentially the same manner as a venturi scrubber. As the gas velocity and turbulence increases with the passing of the gas through the narrow orifice, the interaction between the PM and atomized liquid droplets also increases. Particulate matter and droplets are then removed from the gas stream by impingement on a series of baffles that the gas stream encounters after exiting the orifice. The collected liquid and PM drain from the baffles back into the liquid pool below the orifice (Perry, 1984; EPA, 1998). The scrubbing liquid is fed into the pool at the bottom of the scrubber and later recirculated from the entrainment separator baffles by gravity instead of being circulated by a pump as in venturi scrubbers. Many devices using contactor ducts of various shapes are offered commercially. The principal advantage of this scrubber is the elimination of a pump for recirculation of the scrubbing liquid (Perry, 1984; EPA, 1998).

A venturi scrubber accelerates the waste gas stream to atomize the scrubbing liquid and to improve gas-liquid contact. In a venturi scrubber, a “throat” section is built into the duct that forces the gas stream to accelerate as the duct narrows and then expands. As the gas enters the venturi throat, both gas velocity and turbulence increase. Depending upon the scrubber design, the scrubbing liquid is sprayed into the gas stream before the gas encounters the venturi throat, or in the throat, or upwards against the gas flow in the throat. The scrubbing liquid is then atomized into small droplets by the turbulence in the throat and droplet-particle interaction is increased. Some designs use supplemental hydraulically or pneumatically atomized sprays to augment droplet creation. The disadvantage of these designs is that clean liquid feed is required to avoid clogging (EPA, 1998; AWMA, 1992; Corbitt, 1990). After the throat section, the mixture decelerates, and further impacts occur causing the droplets to agglomerate. Once the particles have been captured by the liquid, the wetted PM and excess liquid droplets are separated from the gas stream by an entrainment section which usually consists of a cyclonic separator and/or a mist eliminator (EPA, 1998; Corbitt, 1990). Current designs for venturi scrubbers generally use the vertical downflow of gas through the venturi throat and incorporate three features: (1) a “wet-approach” or “flooded-wall” entry section to avoid a dust buildup at a wet-dry junction; (2) an adjustable throat for the venturi throat to provide for adjustment of the gas velocity and the pressure drop; and (3) a “flooded” elbow located below the venturi and ahead of the entrainment separator, to reduce wear by abrasive particles. The venturi throat is sometimes fitted with a refractory lining to resist abrasion by dust particles (Perry, 1984).

In fiber-bed scrubbers, moisture-laden waste gas passes through beds or mats of packing fibers, such as spun glass, fiberglass, or steel. If only mists are to be collected, small fibers may be used, but if solid particles are present, the use of fiber-bed scrubbers is limited by the tendency of the beds to plug. For PM collection, the fiber mats must be composed of coarse fibers and have a high void fraction, to minimize the tendency to plug. The fiber mats are often sprayed with the scrubbing liquid so particles can be collected by deposition on droplets and fibers. For PM removal, the scrubber design may include several fiber mats and an impingement device. The final fiber mat is typically dry for the removal of any droplets which are still entrained in the gas stream (EPA, 1998; Perry, 1984).

Mechanical scrubbers comprise those devices in which a power-driven rotor produces the fine spray and the contacting of gas and liquid. As in other types of scrubbers, it is the droplets that are the principal collecting bodies for the dust particles. The rotor acts as a turbulence producer. An entrainment separator must be used to prevent carry-over of spray. The simplest commercial devices of this type are essentially fans upon which water is sprayed (Perry, 1984).  Mechanically-aided scrubbers are usually preceded by a cyclone or other precleaner for removal of coarse dust and larger debris (Avallone, 1996; AAF, 1999).  This type of scrubber relies almost exclusively on inertial interception for PM collection, and is capable of high collection efficiencies, but only with commensurate high energy consumption (EPA, 1998; Josephs, 1999).

An impingement-plate scrubber is a vertical chamber with plates mounted horizontally inside a hollow shell. Impingement-plate scrubbers operate as countercurrent PM collection devices. The scrubbing liquid flows down the tower while the gas stream flows upward. Contact between the liquid and the particle-laden gas occurs on the plates. The plates are equipped with openings that allow the gas to pass through. Some plates are perforated or slotted, while more complex plates have valve-like openings (EPA, 1998). The simplest impingement-plate scrubber is the sieve plate, which has round perforations. In this type of scrubber, the scrubbing liquid flows over the plates and the gas flows up through the holes. The gas velocity prevents the liquid from flowing down through the perforations. Gas-liquid- particle contact is achieved within the froth generated by the gas passing through the liquid layer. Complex plates, such as bubble cap or baffle plates, introduce an additional means of collecting PM. The bubble caps and baffles placed above the plate perforations force the gas to turn before escaping the layer of liquid. While the gas turns to avoid the obstacles, most PM cannot and is collected by impaction on the caps or baffles. Bubble caps and the like also prevent liquid from flowing down the perforations if the gas flow is reduced (EPA, 1998). In all types of impingement-plate scrubbers, the scrubbing liquid flows across each plate and down the inside of the tower onto the plate below. After the bottom plate, the liquid and collected PM flow out of the bottom of the tower. Impingement-plate scrubbers are usually designed to provide operator access to each tray, making them relatively easy to clean and maintain. Consequently, impingement-plate scrubbers are more suitable for PM collection than packed-bed scrubbers. Particles greater than 1 µm in aerodynamic diameter can be collected effectively by impingement-plate scrubbers, but many particles <1 µm in aerodynamic diameter will penetrate these devices (EPA, 1998).

Spray scrubbers consist of empty cylindrical or rectangular chambers in which the gas stream is contacted with liquid droplets generated by spray nozzles. A common form is a spray tower, in which the gas flows upward through a bank or successive banks of spray nozzles. Similar arrangements are sometimes used in spray chambers with horizontal gas flow. Such devices have very low gas pressure drops, and all but a small part of the contacting power is derived from the liquid stream. The required contacting power is obtained from an appropriate combination of liquid pressure and flow rate (Perry, 1984). Physical absorption depends on properties of the gas stream and liquid solvent, such as density and viscosity, as well as specific characteristics of the pollutant(s) in the gas and the liquid stream (e.g., diffusivity, equilibrium solubility). These properties are temperature dependent, and lower temperatures generally favor absorption of gases by the solvent. Absorption is also enhanced by greater contacting surface, higher liquid-gas ratios, and higher concentrations in the gas stream (EPA, 1991). Chemical absorption may be limited by the rate of reaction, although the rate-limiting step is typically the physical absorption rate, not the chemical reaction rate (EPA, 1996).

Condensation scrubbing is a relatively recent development in wet scrubber technology. Most conventional scrubbers rely on the mechanisms of impaction and diffusion to achieve contact between the PM and liquid droplets. In a condensation scrubber, the PM act as condensation nuclei for the formation of droplets. Generally, condensation scrubbing depends on first establishing saturation conditions in the gas stream. Once saturation is achieved, steam is injected into the gas stream. The steam creates a condition of supersaturation and leads to condensation of water on the fine PM in the gas stream. The large condensed droplets are then removed by one of several conventional devices, such as a high efficiency mist eliminator (EPA, 1998).

Dry Scrubbers

Spray dry scrubbers are a widely used flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) technology.  This technology is limited to a flue gas volume of about 200 MWe plants on average, therefore this technology is used in small to medium sized coal fired plants. A removal efficiency of over 90% SO has been achieved using these scrubbers.  Some advantages of using this technology are low waste disposal costs, low water consumption and a low pressure drop.  Some typical contaminants treated include PAHs, HF, HCl, heavy metals and the previously mentioned SO2 .


Caustic Scrubbers, Water Scrubbers

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The target contaminant groups for scrubbers are HCL, H2SO4, Chlorine, SO2, acidic vapors and alkaline vapors. Most scrubbers for incinerators handling vapors or liquid wastes are of packed bed design. Acid gases are usually the target of scrubber operations.

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The following factors may limit applicability and effectiveness:
  • Definite solubility limits of composition and temperature dependent exist for all minerals in water. Deposition can be avoided by increasing liquid blowdown rate, using only caustic for neutralization or replacing hard scrubber makeup water with deionized water will keep a low level of dissolved salts in the scrubber liquid.
  • Operating with excessive dissolved solids. Sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) is a product of neutralizing Cl2 with NaOH.. if the scrubber blowdown liquid is acidified (as in a waste water treatment plant) the NaOCl breaks down, releasing Cl2 gas.
  • Improper waste water treatment. Most incinerator flue gas scrubbers are constructed of the least expensive acid proof materials such as polypropylene or similar, and are sensitive to high temperatures. Prior to scrubbing, the hot flue gas must be cooled.
  • Waste combustion forms small particles for which additional equipment must be specified. Most flue gas scrubbers recirculate  to reduce the rate of blowdown to water treatment. Circulating pump cavitation can sharply reduce the rate of scrubbing liquid available and damage the pump.
  • Incorrect pump specification, faulty pump suction piping design, poor scrubber sump design or foreign matter clogging the pump suction.

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Data Needs:

A detailed discussion of these data elements is provided in Subsection 2.2.3. (Data Requirements for Air Emissions/Off-Gases). 

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Performance Data:

Scrubbers can effectively reduce concentrations of certain water soluble acid, base and organic contaminants. They are used primarily for environmental protection, environmental health, and increasing government regulation. Since the scrubber is so effective at capturing particulates, a filter is necessary to remove them from the system. The filter may be a cleanable or disposable type.

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The annualized cost estimates ranges from $3000-$172,000 per m3 /sec.

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EPA, Air and Pollution Technology Fact Sheet: Condensation Scrubber. Provides information about condensation scrubbers.

EPA, Air and Pollution Technology Fact Sheet: Mechanically aided scrubbers. Provides information about mechanically aided scrubbers.

EPA, Air and Pollution Technology Fact Sheet: Fiber- Bed  scrubbers. Provides information about Fiber-Bed scrubbers.

EPA, Air and Pollution Technology Fact Sheet: Orifice   scrubbers. Provides information about orifice scrubbers.

EPA, Air and Pollution Technology Fact Sheet: Venturi  scrubbers. Provides information about venturi scrubbers.

EPA, Air and Pollution Technology Fact Sheet: Impingement-Plate/Tray-Tower Scrubber. Provides information about Impingement-Plate/Tray-Tower Scrubber.

EPA, Air and Pollution Technology Fact Sheet: Packed-Bed/Packed-Tower Wet Scrubber. Provides information about Packed-Bed/Packed-Tower Wet Scrubber.

EPA, Air and Pollution Technology Fact Sheet: Spray-Chamber/Spray-Tower Wet Scrubber. Provides information about Spray-Chamber/Spray-Tower Wet Scrubber


Site Information:

Site Information is not currently available.

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Points of Contact:

General FRTR Agency Contacts

Technology Specific Web Sites:

Government Web Sites

Non Government Web Sites

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Vendor Information:

A list of vendors offering Air Emission/Off-Gas Treatment is available from EPA REACH IT which combines information from three established EPA databases, the Vendor Information System for Innovative Treatment Technologies (VISITT), the Vendor Field Analytical and Characterization Technologies System (Vendor FACTS), and the Innovative Treatment Technologies (ITT), to give users access to comprehensive information about treatment and characterization technologies and their applications.

Government Disclaimer

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Health and Safety:

Hazard Analysis

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