Renewables Industry and Dust Collection

Clean Air Matrix

RoboVent engineers are experts in every category of air filtration and ventilation. The four categories below represent the major options for treating your contaminated air. RoboVent has designed solutions for each of these categories and has manufactured air filtration systems of unrivaled quality.

For more information about these categories, see Indoor Air Quality 101.

Ambient_Filtration

Large blowers and air filtration equipment draw contaminated air from the plant (typically at the ceiling level), filter it and return it to the plant. This is a proven solution in plants welding large parts with overhead cranes. It reduces the haze in the air, resulting in a cleaner working environment, with no negative pressure or heat loss.

SourceCapture_Filtration

Air in the immediate area of the welding activity is captured in a hood system, then filtered and returned to the plant. This is the best solution whenever possible. It allows for a more flexible system and removes the smoke directly from the operator's breathing zone. There are many types of source capture, including overhead hoods, crossflow hoods, fume arms and fume guns, some of which work better than others.

Ambient_Exhaust

Large exhaust fans draw contaminated air from the plant and exhaust it directly into the environment, typically through the roof or walls. This is a traditional method and often results in negative air pressure. Also, it is very difficult to climate-control your plant and the system may not work well in the winter.

SourceCapture_Exhaust
Air in the immediate area of the welding activity is captured in a hood, sent through ductwork, and exhausted directly into the environment. This is a lower capital cost alternative to filtration, but tends to result in high operating costs and large, unsightly ducting systems that work less efficiently with modifications. It also results in negative pressure problems.

Introduction to Dust and Fume Collection for Renewables Manufacture

One of the strongest areas of today’s economy is renewable energy and the manufacture of equipment needed for its generation. Demand for this equipment is strong, and manufacturing in the sector is booming. Solar panels, wind turbines, and new infrastructure components are reinvigorating domestic factories. Many manufacturers are hoping to scale up their operations.

As manufacturing in the green sector increases, however, we must be mindful that manufacturing processes stay green, as well. Allegations of environmental pollution or breaches in workplace safety are the last thing any renewable manufacturer wants to be known for. In certain areas of manufacturing, employers have very specific reasons to be careful. For example, the use of silica to produce solar panels requires vigilant attention to the newly strengthened regulations governing silica dust. Maintaining clean air in order to meet regulations is only one of many reasons to focus on air quality in this growing economic sector.

Dust and Fume Collection Challenges in the Renewables Industry

Silica is the basis of most solar panels, and silica dust can be created when silicon wafers are sliced. Regulating this dust is a recent focus of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In 2016, the agency issued new standards to control this dust in the workplace. Evidence had been growing for years that previous limits on silica dust were not keeping workers safe. OSHA’s new rules are significantly more stringent than previous standards.

While some manufacturers of solar panels will already be in compliance, many will have to take serious measures to address the change. OSHA’s new limit on silica dust cuts the permissible exposure limit (PEL) by half. The new limit is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. As with most PEL’s, this limit is measured as an 8-hour time-weighted average. Due to the dangers of silica dust, manufacturers can’t settle for filtering out 80% or so of the dust, as they might with other dusts. With silica, a manufacturer needs to aim for capturing and controlling at least 99.9% of the dust.

The importance of controlling silica dust goes beyond complying with regulations—the dust strongly impacts workers’ health, as well. When inhaled, silica dust can travel deeply into the lungs and cause a number of health problems. The dust is implicated in lung cancer as well as chronic bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. Over time, it can damage other bodily systems, most notably the kidneys. Prolonged exposure can lead to silicosis, a serious disease caused by damage to the lining of the lungs.

The manufacture of other renewable energy equipment requires a focus on air quality, as well. Building the large metal components for wind turbines, for example, creates serious weld fumes. In particular, the welding of stainless steel—a common practice in this trade—creates weld fumes containing the metallic compound hexavalent chromium. OSHA has a specific regulation for this substance due to its well documented toxicity. Particulates of this substance are extremely small, due to the high temperatures involved in welding. When inhaled, these tiny particulates can travel deep into the body. Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen and, when inhaled, has been linked to incidences of cancer. However, this compound is only one of many dangers that travel in weld fumes. Many weld fumes also carry manganese and beryllium, toxic substances that are also regulated by specific OSHA standards.

Whether manufacturers are building wind turbines or large pieces of green infrastructure, the welding of large components presents certain dangers. Because welders must move along a large piece of equipment, source capture of weld fumes is difficult. Conventional capture solutions, such as fume arms and backdraft tables, are difficult or impossible to employ in these situations.

Solutions for Dust and Fumes in the Renewables Industry

RoboVent understands the renewables industry, and we have an air quality solution for any application. Whether the problem is silica dust, weld fumes, or something else entirely, our comprehensive solutions are thoughtfully designed and based on decades of experience in air filtration. For example, the Fusion Series dust collectors provide power and performance at an unprecedented level of efficiency. These collectors are designed to save energy while delivering the finest filtration possible. This equipment will help you stay green from the ground up.

For a more flexible operation, RoboVent’s line of portable collectors lets you capture dust and fumes at their point of creation. These collectors use fume arms or hoods to make sure welders are protected, as well as everyone in the facility. For a welding operation that has workers moving quickly over large pieces of equipment, a fume gun such as RoboVent’s Extractor is an ergonomic, efficient solution that protects workers and ensures your facility is meeting air quality regulations.

As always, RoboVent guarantees satisfaction. Our manufacturing standards are the highest in the industry, and our warranty is the best in the business.

Solutions

Robovent Manual Welding Ventilation Solutions

Manual Welding Ambient Systems

Ambient solutions for manual welding stations capture weld fumes from the environment, improving the air for workers and the entire facility.

Finegrinding Fiberglass Dust Exposure

Fine Grinding Fiberglass Dust Collection and Filtration

Fibrous glass particulates, like those associated with fiberglass fine grinding, can be a health hazard in dust form. RoboVent specializes in solutions for these kinds of concerns.

Glass-making Dust Collection

Glass-making ingredients produce dusts that are a current regulatory focus, but RoboVent can solve these air quality challenges quickly and cost effectively.

Laser Cutting Dust Collection

Laser cutting is fast and efficient, but controlling dust is key to protecting workers and an unobstructed beam. RoboVent has solutions custom-made for the process.

RoboVent Chemical Dust Collectors

Chemical Dust Collection and Filtration

Chemical dusts are more dangerous than most, but RoboVent's decades of experience allow us to deliver the most effective solution for even the most difficult challenge.

Silica Dust Collection

Silica is used in countless industrial applications. A recent change in air quality regulations has made silica dust a pressing concern for many employers.