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A. Buekens
Department of Chemical Engineering

CHIS 2, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Keywords: Atomizers, Brownian movement, Corrosion, Erosion, Impaction, Interception, Jet,

Mist Elimination, Packed Bed, Stefan Flow, Venturi, Wet Deposition.
1. Survey
2. Liquid Atomizers
3. Scrubber Types
4. Venturi Scrubber Practice
5. Particulate Scrubber Design
6. Estimating Collection Efficiency and Pressure Drop
7. Wet Scrubbing of Gaseous Compounds
8. Mist Elimination
9. Wet deposition
10. Conclusions
Related Chapters
Biographical Sketch
Wet scrubbers are used when dry dust collection creates excessive explosion hazards, when
dust collection is combined with acid gas removal, and when the dust is to be applied as
Wet scrubbers are capable of collecting submicron dust if they operate at a very high pressure
drop. Inconvenient is the occurrence of erosion, corrosion, and a wet plume of entrained
droplets that can only be eliminated by high-efficiency fibrous mat demisters.
Wet electrostatic precipitators are a premium solution for a deep low temperature removal of
volatile gases, salt fumes, and other specific applications.
Atomizers are used in numerous industrial processes, including spray cooling and
conditioning of flue gases.
Wet deposition is a major process in cleaning the atmosphere from particulate matter; it is
based on rainout and on washout.
1. Survey
Wet scrubbers can serve two different duties, namely, the absorption of water-soluble gases or
vapors, and arresting dust. Since the mechanism is fundamentally different their design and
operating mode also differs and combining both duties is not always appropriate.
Dissolution of soluble gases is basically driven by:
1) Contacting surface, available for mass transfer between the gas phase and the liquid, and

2) Difference between actual concentration and equilibrium conditions.

Hence, absorption normally requires a very large gas to liquid interface surface.
Arresting dust particles by wet scrubbing proceeds by high velocity impaction of dust
particles in their first contact with droplets. After this initial impact the relative velocity
becomes too small to create collisions, so that the initial contact of particles and droplets
drives almost entirely a successful separation of dust and is little helped by providing
supplemental surface.
Dust collection can be subdivided into three-steps, with the first step often only implicitly
1) Preconditioning of dust, i.e. saturation of the original dust particles with vapors from the
scrubbing liquor. Thus particles become denser and acquire a larger affinity for the scrubbing
liquor. Preconditioning proceeds by injecting a metered amount of finely divided scrubbing
liquor into the gas, leading to almost instantaneous evaporation, bridging the temperature gap
between the original hot gas temperature (requiring a heat-resistant material) and the scrubber
operating temperature (often with glass fiber mats-reinforced polyester as a corrosion resistant
construction material),
2) Contacting the dust laden gas with a water spray or surface at very high relative speed,
since dust is largely captured by inertia, i.e. a high-speed collision with droplets, followed by
being incorporated into these,
3) Separating the dust-laden droplets from the gas stream. This last step seems
straightforward, but high-energy contact of gas and water often generates fine droplet
dispersions so that the resulting mist must be carefully collected. Failing to do so causes
emission of salts and jeopardizes compliance with stringent Codes.
2. Liquid Atomizers
2.1. Scope
Many industrial processes (spray cooling, conditioning of flue gases, humidification, fire
fighting, oil burners, spray drying, granulation of pills etc.) require some liquid or melt to be
atomized into fine or very fine drops. The orifices of spray nozzles are designed to break-up
liquid into a multitude of droplets, for the purpose of increasing surface area, or concentrating
liquid to create high impact force. In many applications, droplet size is critical:

Gas scrubbing, cooling or conditioning depends on exposing a maximum liquid surface

area to a gas stream.

Other applications require large droplets, e.g. when a spray must project into a fast
moving gas stream.
Liquid atomizers serve such purposes. They can be driven by liquid pressure, or by using a
compressible auxiliary medium (air, steam or a gas). The latter use internal mixing, for clean,
non-viscous liquid, or external mixing, for viscous and particle-laden fluids. Choosing a
suitable atomizer nozzle requires specification of factors, such as:

flow-rate versus pressure characteristics,

spray angle,
material of construction and the piping which feeds the nozzle.

Three important characteristics of any spray are:

the amount of liquid it contains,

how the volume is distributed within the spray envelope, and
the sizes of the droplets that make up the spray.

Measuring flow rate and pressure characteristics of most nozzles is relatively simple, but this
is frequently not true for pattern and droplet size data.
2.2. Droplet Particle Size
Many industrial processes require the availability of fine atomized droplets and the techniques
to produce finely atomized sprays have been largely improved in the recent years, with new
types of atomizers being developed. In addition, sophisticated process techniques have
heightened the demand for a precise definition about the characteristics of the spray.
Most interesting parameters are:

Arithmetic Mean Diameter, or AMD (D10): calculated from the diameters of the drops in
the sample spray.

Volume Mean Diameter, or VMD (D30): diameter of a drop whose volume equals the
arithmetic mean of volume values of the drops in the spray.

Sauter Mean Diameter, or SMD (D32): diameter of a drop with a volume/surface ratio
value the same as the arithmetic mean of volume/surface values in the sample spray under
The following histograms and diagrams are usually used to define a sample spray:

Volume percentage cumulative curve,

Distribution curve of droplet diameters,
Distribution curve of droplet velocities.

During laboratory testing a computer-driven laser interferometer is used to detect and record
the spray parameters, while fluid capacities and feed pressure values are monitored. Above
parameter values make it possible to define data about atomization degree, heat exchange
efficiency and jet behavior in a given operational ambient.
2.2.1. Liquid-pressure atomizer
These droplets may be obtained in a liquid-pressure atomizer, simply by forcing the liquid
at high pressure through a small dimension orifice.
Two major inconveniences are to be expected by such a method:

It requires costly high-pressure pumps and lines.

The small orifice of a hydraulic atomizer is easily clogged, impairing reliability.

The atomization of a liquid by means of a compressible auxiliary fluid like air, steam or a gas,
is defined pneumatic, two-phase or twin-fluid atomization.
2.2.2. Air-assisted atomizers
In a majority of cases air-assisted atomizers are being used, in which compressed air
supplies most of the energy required for atomizing the liquid. These devices provide a high

velocity air stream impacting onto a liquid flow, obtaining liquid atomization by simple shear
This technology allows producing fine and very fine droplets, satisfying the requirements of
almost any industrial application. A wide range of spray patterns atomizer types and
accessories have been developed in the time to suit many different industry requirements.
An air atomizing system has, however, two inherent limitations:

water and air must be filtered, because of narrow inside passages,

jets with limited spray angles are obtained, because of the high speed of the spray.
Multiple orifice air nozzles are used to overcome this problem.
In spite of their inherent low efficiency and because of the low flow rates involved,
conventional atomizers are the most convenient solution for most of the current applications.
2.2.3. Internal or External Mixing
The set-up can be so designed that air and liquid:

are mixed inside the atomizer, and ejected through the same orifice, or
impact, mix and generate the atomized spray after having been ejected from the atomizer
through separate orifices.
The most commonly used type uses internal mixing (Figure 1) with a wide range of flow
values and spray patterns available. The two fluids come in contact inside the nozzle, and the
resulting mist spray exits from the nozzle orifice(s). Changes in the pressure value of one of
the fluids will affect the flow rate of the other one: increasing air pressure will result in lower
liquid flow rate and finer droplets, and vice-versa.
Viscous or contaminated liquids are generally atomized with an external mix set-up. Here the
two fluids exit from separate orifices, they impact and mix outside the nozzle, pressure values
can be easily and independently adjusted and their flow rates easily controlled.
Increase in air pressure will result in finer atomization, but normally the spray droplet size is
slightly larger as compared to an internal mix set-up.
These set-ups can only produce a flat spray pattern.

Figure 1: Types of Internal and External Mixing

2.2.4. Ultrasonic atomizers
Ultrasonic atomizers produce very fine sprays, with rather uniform drop dimensions, and
supply low capacity sprays, lower than 0.1 m 3 per hour. The sound waves generate a typical
noise and the local noise level must be tested lower than legally admissible levels.
Ultrasonic atomizers atomize liquid through a two-step process:

Liquid is ejected through a number of small orifices into the nozzle outlet channel, where
a high velocity air stream provides for the first liquid breakup, through shear action onto the
jets surface.
The air stream carrying the droplets impacts onto a resonator placed in front of the nozzle
outlet orifice, generating a field of high frequency sound waves. Flying through the sound
wave field, the droplets undergo an additional breakup step.
Ultrasonic atomizers produce the finest sprays, as a full cone spray with a narrow spray
angle. Since water and compressed air are ejected from different orifices, their pressure can be
adjusted separately, avoiding mutual influence; this allows for obtaining satisfactory operating
conditions along a very wide range of fluid capacities. Ultrasonic atomizers offer the
following distinct advantages:

The droplets show a low mean value and a very narrow range for SMD values (see,
Control of Particulate Matter in Gaseous Emissions). This means very predictable spray
behavior, without drops much bigger or smaller than the spray SMD value: for example there

will be no large drop falling to the ground before complete evaporation and causing a wet

The high variations in local air pressure induced by the sound waves prevent dust and
lime particles from building up at the orifice and impairing atomizer performance.
2.3. Spray Modeling
A spray of evaporating particles can be modeled mathematically. The source terms in the
spray equations are specified at the injector, based on the droplet data taken from experiments.
Liquid drops are moving and evaporating in a gas; the droplets can undergo break-up and
collision processes.
The application of the distribution function leads to conservation equations of mass, impulse,
and energy in the form of the instantaneous Navier-Stokes equations in the Eulerian
formulation. Then, the ensemble-averaging procedure is applied to get the final form of
governing equations. A volume used in the averaging must be large compared to the drop
The spray is represented by a finite number of discrete parcels and every parcel contains a
number of droplets with the same properties. The particles are tracked through the flow field
in the Lagrangian fashion. The gas/spray interactions are accounted for by introducing
appropriate source terms in the governing equations. The Monte Carlo method is applied in
the sense that one samples randomly from assumed probability distribution functions,
governing droplet properties at injection, collision, and turbulent modulation.
3. Scrubber Types
3.1. High-velocity Units
3.1.1. Venturi scrubbers
A Venturi scrubber is conceptually the simplest, most compact, yet also most efficient wet
dust collector. Its collection efficiency extends down to 0.2 particles, if very high linear gas
velocities (typically 50 to 150 m s-1) are reached in the throat, where the gas is first contacted
with water. Hence, collection efficiency mainly depends on the pressure drop experienced
during this operation.
In its simplest form a Venturi scrubber consists of a long tube, composed of consecutive
converging and diverging sections, with steeply rising velocity in the convergent section,
contact with the scrubbing liquor in its throat, and a conversion of kinetic energy into pressure
in the downstream divergent diffuser.
Designs differ mainly in the way water is introduced, e.g.

using spray nozzles, generating fine or coarser droplets,

having water flowing down by gravity along the walls towards the throat,
letting water being aspired by under pressure created in the throat (cf. Bernoullis
Equation), or even by

impacting a high velocity gas flow onto a water surface, causing wide dispersion of

A second classification is based on the geometry of the converging and diverging sections;
instead of a simple, but lengthy tubular arrangement more compact designs are possible, such

Conventional Venturi, but with a very short convergent entrance section, a normal sized
diffuser (divergent section), and a simple cylindrical, centrifugal droplet separator,
Venturi with an annular diffuser with a possibility to widen or constrict the annular space,
Radial flow scrubbers.
When the gas flow rate to be treated is variable, it is necessary to adapt the cross-section of
the throat, thus maintaining a constant linear velocity and hence collection efficiency. In a
simple tubular design the throat can be made in rubber and pinched pneumatically. Other
types feature a mechanical control to adapt this cross-section area.
The amount of water injected can be varied as well. Often the water moves in closed circuit,
incorporating a settling basin to separate collected dust as slurry. Given the high gas velocities
erosion and abrasion are factors to consider, as well as corrosion following the absorption of
acid gas compounds. Water treatment may cause considerable cost in Venturi dust collectors.
The droplets normally coalesce to a size of the order of 0.1 mm and can be separated by
centrifugal forces (conventional cyclones), by lamellae separator, based on sick-sack flow,
inertial forces and wetted collecting surfaces, or
if required - wire or fiber gauge
Entrainment of droplets from scrubbers may be significant. Hence, droplet separators are
important. Sometimes a two-step arrangement is preferred, with a first contact using recycle
water, a second wetted with pure make-up water.
3.1.2. Jet scrubber
The construction and operation of a water jet scrubber resembles that of the Venturi scrubber,
with as distinctive features:
1) The water jet is thus self aspiring, drawing in the gas to be treated and,
2) The injected water supplies the energy for both water dispersion and dust collection.
Since the dust collection efficiency is only medium it is not unusual to operate jet scrubbers in
a cascade of two or even more units.
3.1.3. Swirl scrubbers
Swirl scrubbers exist in a large number of possible makes, all featuring the impaction of a
high velocity gas stream (10 to 15 m s -1) onto the collecting water surface. Organizing the
high-speed impact, dust to droplet contact and the subsequent droplet removal may proceed in
numerous fashions as follows from Figure 2.

Figure 2: Different types of Swirl scrubbers

3.1.4. Rotary scrubbers
In the wet walled cyclone the scrubbing water is sprayed into the feed ducts, and the collected
dust is separated together with the droplets in the cyclone.
Rotary scrubbers may use moving mechanical parts to impart sufficient relative velocity for
impaction of a high velocity gas stream onto the collecting water droplets or surfaces. In a
simple set-up water droplets are sprayed into the entrance duct of a fan.
3.1.5. Packed Scrubber Towers
Scrubber towers are standard equipment in scrubbing of soluble gases. The simplest type is an
empty vessel, fitted with spray nozzles. Packing with Raschig rings or Berl saddles would
enhance scrubbing, at the cost, however, of clogging. Finally, some designs have self-cleaning
features, e.g. a bed of irrigated ping-pong balls.

3.2. Domains of Use

The dust-laden gas is contacted with scrubbing liquor; the dust is captured in this liquor and
discharged as slurry or solution. Often the wet collector performs additional functions, such as
the absorption of obnoxious gases, and the cooling of the treated gas. In contradistinction to
an electrostatic precipitator, a wet collector can handle explosive mixtures of dust (e.g. soot)
and air. Soot particles are not wetted by water, however, so that their collection in water is
difficult. Oil scrubbing may prove to be more successful.
Wet collection can be subdivided in 3 consecutive operations:

Cooling of the flue gas to 70 - 80 C, by injection of water or heat exchange;

Inertial impaction of dust on finely dispersed droplets;
Separation of droplets from the cleaned gas.

The flue gas can be cooled in a separate spray-cooling tower, or in a first, dry stage of the wet
collector. Cooling is a means of conditioning dust particles: the latter act as condensation
nuclei for water vapor, grow heavier, becoming easier to separate. Moreover, dispersed
aerosol particles are attracted towards condensing droplets (Stefan-flow effect
see, Electrostatic Precipitators).
Provision should be made for unhindered thermal expansion in the hot zone of the
scrubber. The dry and wet parts of the plant are carefully separated, to conserve the refractory
material, e.g. acid proof brick, on the hot side. Erosion is a problem in high-energy scrubbers.
A rubber or plastic lining protects the construction metal in the wet part, but each deficiency
has fatal consequences in terms of corrosion. Hence, scrubbers are mainly made in plastics
reinforced with impregnated glass-fiber mats.
An emergency water reservoir is required in case of water supply failure!
3.3. Collection Efficiency
Collection of dust particles is based on impaction of dust on a droplet. Collection efficiency
hence increases with:

Number of finely divided droplets;

Size and mass of the particles;
Relative motion of dust particles and of collecting droplets.

Efficiency is enhanced by increasing the gas velocity or by improving the atomization of the
liquid, albeit at the cost of a higher power consumption, but it is practically unaffected by
contacting time or dust loading. Once out of the contacting zone, droplets and particles move
at almost the same speed, so that collection probability becomes low, with diffusion as a
major mechanism. When the dust loading is too large the wet collector can be preceded by a
mechanical collector, which eliminates the coarse particles and avoids erosion and plugging
It has been stated that particle collection efficiency is independent of the type of wet collector
used, all scrubbers giving substantially the same degree of collection of a given dust,
regardless of whether the operating pressure drop is obtained by using high gas flow or high
water flow rates. Experimental evidence (Figure 3) indeed shows a lower limit to power
consumption, but particular collectors consume more than the corresponding to this lower

Figure 3: Specific energy consumption as a function of collection efficiency: data for various
types of scrubbers
3.4. Construction
The simplest type of wet scrubber consists of an empty spray tower (Figure 4). The relative
velocity of rising gas and falling droplets (typically 0.5 - 1 mm) is limited to 1 - 3 m s -1, so that
the collection efficiency is very low for small dust particles. Moreover, low gas velocity leads
to wide towers when a large gas flow is to be treated. For these reasons the spray tower is
used as a combination of cooling tower, conditioner, preliminary separator, and evaporatorconcentrator of scrubbing slurry mainly.

Figure 4: Spray towers with: (a) two spray banks, (b) circumferential sprays, (c) axial sprays
A higher relative velocity (10 - 50 m s -1) and a finer droplet size (0.04 - 0.2 mm) can be used,
when the flue gases are fed tangentially into the spray-tower. Centrally located sprinklers
spray water into the gas stream, which with a whirling movement mounts winding along the
tower circumference (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Spray tower with: (a) tangential inlet, (b) fixed whirl vanes
Filling the spray tower with a packing (ceramic or plastic rings, saddles, etc.) markedly
increases the total wetted surface area, while maintaining low pressure drop (typically 1.5 - 2
cm water column per m packing height). The absorption rate of soluble gases increases with
wetted surface area. Main operating problems are: plugging the packing with sludge or
flooding the column, when the upward gas flow becomes so high that it prevents liquid to
flow down from the packing.
The floating bed scrubber features a bed of floating plastic spheres, retained between an upper
and a lower grid, as self-cleaning packing material (Figure 6). The bed of spheres is fluidized,
and the vigorous mixing prevents fouling and plugging of the bed. Slurry is withdrawn at the
bottom of the water layer.

Figure 6: Spray tower with bed of self-cleaning, floating particles

In orifice scrubbers a high velocity gas stream impinges on a water bath (Figure 7) Entrained
droplets either by inertia or by centrifugal force are separated from the gas stream and return
to the water bath. Slurry of settled dust is withdrawn periodically from the bottom of the water
bath. Collection efficiency increases with total gas flow, since the gas delivers the required

Figure 7: Combined scrubber system featuring: mixed-flow contacting jets, coarse droplet
separator and mist eliminator
In the Venturi scrubber the flue gases flow at high velocity through a large convergingdiverging jet. Water is introduced in or immediately before the constriction, and is atomized
by the high velocity of the gas (30 - 240 m s -1). The kinetic energy of the gas is partly
recovered in the diffuser, by conversion into pressure energy. The entrained droplets are
separated in a wet cyclone. The collection efficiency is high, but variable with the gas flow.

The variation of gas flow can be compensated for in the radial flow scrubber with automatic
control of the cross-section in the constriction area. Two circular plates, the relative vertical
position of which can be varied, form the diffuser. The gas flows outward, in between the two
plates. The droplets are removed in a spiral bucket ring.
In the wet walled cyclones, the orifice and the Venturi scrubber the liquor is atomized and
accelerated by the gas stream. The pressure drop over the scrubber hence increases with the
liquid to gas flow ratio.
Rotation scrubbers consist of a fan or a compressor into which water is injected. The flue
gases thus are forced through a water curtain. The collection efficiency is independent of gas
flow, the required energy being delivered by the mechanical movement. In principle, multistage operation is possible, but even at single stage excellent collection efficiency is obtained.
The water jet scrubber aspires the gas to be cleaned by means of a water jet, operated at a
pressure drop of 2 - 6 bars. The efficiency of dust collection is high, and independent of gas
flow. Absorption of pollutants is highly effective. Investment is low, but power consumption
is high. Foam formation often occurs, where the water jet impinges on the stagnant water.
Entrainment of dust-laden droplets adversely affects the collection efficiency of wet
scrubbers. A suitable collector, e.g. a demister, zigzag inertial separator, cyclone, removes the
droplets upon leaving the contacting unit.
Scrubbers are typical equipment for the chemical and the process industry. Only few types
have been effectively marketed in Europe for application in refuse incineration.
3.5. Operating experience

Scrubber Type

Pressure Drop

dm3 m-3

kWh per 1 000 m3

Scrubbing tower

0.7 - 1.5

200 - 2500

0.05 - 5

0.2 - 1.5

Jet scrubber

0.8 - 0.9

10 - 25

5 - 20 (per

1.2 - 3

Vortex scrubber

0.6 - 0.9

8 - 20

1500 - 2800


Rotary Scrubber

0.1 - 0.5

25 - 70

400 - 1000

1 - 3 (per stage)



0.05 - 0.2

40 - 150

3000 - 20000

0.5 - 5

1.5 - 6

Table 1: Comparison of characteristic data for wet scrubbers

Table 1: Comparison of characteristic data of wet scrubbers

Scrubbers of the Venturi-type were used quite early in the U.S.A. During the sixties several
proprietary systems were put into service, featuring different systems of pre-cooling or
conditioning the flue gases and of recycling the turbid and acidic liquors, used where water
consumption and effluent flow had to be curtailed. The main operating problems were
corrosion by acidic gases, erosion by abrasive dust, and formation of steam plumes.
Wet scrubbers were introduced in Europe in the 1970s, giving rise to numerous materials
selection problems. Eventually, these problems were solved with plastic materials in the wet
section, which requires protection from overheating or fire, e.g. during maintenance.
4. Venturi Scrubber Practice
4.1. The most efficient Wet Scrubber
Venturi scrubbers are the most efficient fine particle collecting wet scrubbers since it gives the
maximum gas velocity for a given pressure drop and hence the maximum theoretical
collection efficiency. The collection mechanism is predominantly inertia impaction, relying on
the high kinetic energy generated by accelerating the gas through a restriction to give good
inertial collection onto droplets distributed in the gas stream. This acceleration is achieved at
the expense of a high gas side pressure drop and power consumption.
Liquid is introduced at either the inlet of the Venturi or at the Venturi throat. In both cases, the
liquid velocity is low in comparison to the gas velocity. The high relative velocity between
gas and liquid in the throat ensures good particle collection efficiencies even down to the
submicron range. As the droplets accelerate and attain the velocity of the gas, the collection
efficiency decreases due to the reduction inertia impactions between the droplet and the
particles to be collected. For submicron particles, Brownian motion and possible electrostatic
forces contribute to the overall collection mechanism. As the gas exits the Venturi throat it
decelerates but the high inertia liquid droplets maintain their velocity. Further inertia
collection then occurs beyond the Venturi throat. An entrainment separator that removes the
dust-laden droplets from the gas stream generally follows the Venturi.
The simplest Venturi is the fixed throat Venturi. The gas cleaning efficiency will remain
constant as long as the gas flow is constant. When the gas flow varies and a constant gas
cleaning efficiency is desired, a variable throat Venturi should be considered.
4.2. Pressure Drop Considerations
In general, the pressure drop across a Venturi consists of two parts: a dry or frictional loss that
also occurs, when no liquid is present, and a wet portion. The wet pressure losses are
associated with the formation of droplets and their acceleration. Five separate components can
be identified describing the total pressure drop across a Venturi:

Frictional loss of the gas, due to the shear stress acting on the gas at the wall. It is
proportional to the surface roughness and the square of the gas velocity, by analogy with pipe
Acceleration loss of the gas, from the change in kinetic energy as the gas is accelerated in
the converging section of the Venturi. The losses occur principally in the diverging section as
a result of flow separation. Using shallow diffuser angles can minimize this loss. Traditionally
an angle of less than 15 has been used in Venturi designs.

Acceleration loss of droplets. This pressure drop is a function of Venturi geometry, the
means of liquid introduction, throat velocity and liquid to gas ratio. The relative velocity

between gas and liquid causes a drag force, which accelerates and shatters the liquid droplets.
If these are small and the throat is long, the droplets obtain the same velocity as the gas. When
the gas exits the throat it begins to decelerate. At some point the gas velocity drops below the
liquid droplet velocity resulting is a drag force, but this time in the opposite direction: liquid
droplets will transfer energy back to the gas, resulting in some pressure recovery.

Acceleration loss of liquid film flowing on the walls. Some acceleration occurs in the
converging section of the Venturi but the bulk of the pressure loss occurs at the start of the
throat. At the point, where the liquid film is atomized into droplets the film component of the
pressure drop decreases and the pressure loss is taken up by acceleration of the droplets.
Static loss due to the difference in height between the scrubber inlet and outlet. This is the
pressure rise resulting from the change in elevation of the gas and (especially) liquid.
The operating pressure drop may vary within a wide range, depending on application and
cleaning efficiency required. Venturis can be classified into three groups depending on the
pressure drop across the unit:

Low-pressure drop Venturis have a pressure drop less than 25 cm water column (WC).
Medium pressure drop Venturis have pressures drops between 25 and 50 cm WC.
Venturis having higher pressure drops are classified as high-pressure drop or highefficiency Venturis.
In certain applications the gas flow through the Venturi can vary considerably. To maintain a
constant cleaning efficiency under varying gas flow, a variable throat Venturi is used.
Venturis with rectangular cross section usually have hinged walls, which are adjusted to
change the throat area. A series of gears and/or levers and an actuator located outside of
Venturi moves and controls the position of the hinged wall.
When the Venturi has a circular cross section, the throat area can be adjusted by having a
fixed throat with an annular plug or disc located in the middle, which can be moved up and
down, to vary the size of the throat.
A variant of the traditional Venturi is the Radial Flow Scrubber (RFS) design offered by
Lurgi. The gas enters the throat area through a converging section similar to a traditional
Venturi. A movable disc blocks the gas through flow and forces it to move radially outwards,
perpendicular to the original direction. Thus, the horizontal, radially expanding, annular space
is the equivalent to the Venturi diffuser.
4.3. Corrosion and Wear in Venturis
The circulating liquid in a Venturi will be a weak acid solution containing contaminants
removed from the gas. The materials selected for the Venturi must resist to these
contaminants, both from a corrosion and erosion point of view. The parts of a Venturi that are
particularly vulnerable are the Venturi inlet, throat, parts downstream of the throat and the
outlet elbow.

Venturi Inlet. Injecting liquid tangentially at the inlet thus providing a

liquid film onto the surface can prevent high temperature corrosion and
erosion upstream of the throat. The liquid feed nozzles may be shielded to
prevent direct contact with the gas.

Venturi Throat and Downstream. The high gas velocity does not permit a
stable liquid film to form on the vessel surface, so there is little protection

for corrosion and erosion. A liner made from material resistant to corrosion
and erosion can be installed in the throat area.

Venturi Outlet Elbow. The outlet elbow is prone to erosion due to the high
velocity gas and liquid droplets impinging on the outside radius of the
elbow. A specialty liner can be used in this area to minimize erosion in the
most extreme cases. Alternatively, the elbow can be constructed in a 'tee'
arrangement. The bottom of the 'tee' would contain a pocket of liquid,
which will protect the bottom of the vessel.

5. Particulate Scrubber Design

To design a particulate wet scrubber, information concerning the characteristics of the flue gas
stream to be treated must be obtained for both average and maximum ranges of:

Dust Properties, including particle size distribution, concentration and composition.

Particle size distribution is the most important factor affecting scrubber design and operation.
However, distribution data is rarely available and must be estimated from similar sources.
Average and maximum concentrations must be obtained to properly size the solids removal
system. Chemical composition is important to determine if these materials will cause erosion,
corrosion, plugging or precipitation problems.

Exhaust Gas Characteristics, including average and maximum flow rates, moisture
content, and chemical composition. The flow rates determine the size of the scrubbing system.
Moisture content and chemical composition are important in determining the corrosion
potential, pH levels, saturation conditions, spent liquid treatment and disposal requirements of
Vendors provide estimates or guarantees for the following important scrubber operating

Static Pressure Drop, dependent on desired removal efficiency and mechanical design of
the scrubber system.
Liquid Flow Rate, based on the evaporation rate and type of scrubbing system utilized.
Values need to be identified for both normal and maximum operating conditions. Also, if
applicable, the recirculation rate and permissible levels of suspended solids in this liquid need
to be fixed.
Collection Efficiency, i.e. removal rates at both normal and maximum levels.
Removal of Entrained Droplets, type and efficiency of the mist removal system.
6. Estimating Collection Efficiency and Pressure Drop
A number of theories have been developed from basic particle-movement principles to
explain the action of wet scrubbing systems. These start from firm scientific concepts, but
yield qualitative results only when predicting collection efficiencies or pressure drops: the
interaction of particulate matter with a given size distribution with water droplets having
another size distribution is not easy to express quantitatively. As a result, empirical parameters
are needed in design.
Collection efficiency is frequently expressed in terms of penetration.

Penetration is defined as the fraction of particles, f (system), in the exhaust stream that passes
through the scrubber uncollected. Penetration is the complement of collection efficiency.
An equation for f (system) can be developed for a particular scrubber design, as a function of
pressure drop, particle size, and liquid to particulate ratio.
A vendor can measure operating variables and collection efficiency of an existing or pilot
scale unit. Unfortunately, much of this information is proprietary. In addition, an equation
designed for a Venturi scrubber may not work well for evaluating the design of an orifice or
cyclonic scrubber. A summary of equations used for predicting collection efficiency can be
found in handbooks.
Theoretical models estimate penetration as a function of particle size. These correlations can
be applied to the particle size distribution of a proposed system to estimate overall collection
efficiency. However, there are often complex mathematical relationships involved, and data
inputs are not readily available or non-existent and must be estimated. One procedure operates

the Cunningham slip correction factor,

the particle aerodynamic geometric mean diameter,
the droplet diameter,
the Reynolds Number,
the drag coefficient for the liquid at the throat entrance,
the parameter characterizing the liquid-to-gas ratio,
derive the overall penetration,
Calculate the collection efficiency
Determine whether the local regulations for particulate emissions are being met.

A more general theory for estimating collection efficiency is the contact power theory, based
on a series of experimental observations made by Lapple and Kamack in 1955. The
fundamental assumption is: "When compared at the same power consumption, all scrubbers
give substantially the same degree of collection of a given dispersed dust, regardless of the
mechanism involved and regardless of whether the pressure drop is obtained by high gas flow
rates or high water flow rates."
In other words, collection efficiency is a function of how much power the scrubber uses, and
not of how the scrubber is designed. The choice between two different scrubbers with the
same power requirements may depend primarily on ease of maintenance. On this basis
Semrau in 1959 and 1963 developed the contact power theory empirically, relating the total
pressure loss of the system to collection efficiency.
The total pressure loss is expressed as the power expended to inject the liquid into the
scrubber plus the power needed to move the process gas through the system and should not be
confused with penetration.
A third concept that originated with plate towers is the number of transfer units. A plate tower
with three plates has three separation stages or transfer units. Transfer units similarly apply to
packed towers, even though they have continuous rather than discrete separations.
7. Wet Scrubbing of Gaseous Compounds
Wet scrubbing is based on the excellent solubility of most acidic gases in water.

The temperature of the flue gas, upon leaving the boiler plant or the spray-cooling tower,
generally has a design value of 160 - 220 C. The actual value fluctuates with the load of the
upstream plant, and gradually rises with increased fouling of the boiler or heat exchanger.
Prior to scrubbing, the flue gas should be cooled to a temperature below 100 C, in most cases
- around 75 C.
Supplemental Cooling of the flue gas may be obtained by:

Atomization of cooling water in the flue gas. About 0.1 kg of water per m 3 of flue gas are
required for that purpose,

Installation of supplemental heat exchange surfaces. The latter are subject to dew point
corrosion. Hence it is unusual to cool the flue gas indirectly below 160 C, except when using
relatively exotic materials (glass, graphite, titanium-clad or rubber lined steel).
Still, indirect cooling may also be used for reheating the purified flue gas and increasing its
buoyancy. Moreover it reduces the amount of water to be injected into the flue gas, which is
important where water is at a premium.
In principle it is possible to combine collection of dust and absorption of acidic compounds in
a single operation, which would save the investment. In practice a separation of those two
duties has been generally favored because of the occurrence of a number of operating
problems in a combined operation. Hence the following procedure is generally favored:

Collection of dust particles in an electrostatic precipitator,

Removal of acidic gases by wet scrubbing,
Partial recirculation of scrubbing liquor and treatment of the bleed stream,
Reheating of the cleaned flue gas, an option shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8: Gas scrubbers with heat exchanger for reheating of clean gas
8. Mist Elimination
8.1. Scope
Most mechanical and all wet dust collectors are capable of handling entrained droplets, on the
same basis as solid particles. Baghouse filters cannot operate under moist conditions, because
the filter layer will clog. Electrofilters are subject to electric short-circuiting, unless they are
designed especially for this purpose (WESP = Wet Electrostatic Precipitator, see Electrostatic
Precipitators), as well as to corrosion. The latter may occur at cold bridges to the support
structures, and at hygroscopic deposits.
Dust collectors require special attention when out of operation. Sometimes they are
electrically heated, to avoid condensation.
Sedimentation, or inertial and centrifugal forces, projecting droplets against an already wetted
surface, can separate coarse droplets.
A mist is much more difficult to handle, for its particles are small and often stabilized by
tribo-electric electric charges. In particular acid mist can wade through successive stages of
process plant.

8.2. Brink mist eliminator

Mists of sulfuric, nitric or phosphoric acid are difficult to collect. A proven solution is the
Brink mist eliminator, marketed for more than 30 years. The original Brink design consists of
fibers packed between two concentric cylindrical screens. Currently, the unit consists of a
special wound fiber bed, and a drainage or re-entrainment control layer of coarse fiber
downstream of the finer collecting fiber. Liquid that would re-entrain from the fine fiber bed
is drained in the control layer (Figure 9).

Figure 9: Mist Elimination

Collection Efficiency vs. Particle Size

In certain applications, the presence of insoluble particles in the gas stream causes
8.3. Impaction, Interception and Brownian Movement
A comparison is made in Table 2 among Impaction, Interception and Brownian movement as
the main collection mechanism:

Table 2: Comparison among Impaction, Interception and Brownian movement as a main

collection mechanism
9. Wet deposition
9.1. Survey
Wet deposition removes pollutants from the atmosphere by two distinct mechanisms:

Wash-out of gases and of particles, collected by falling droplets on their way down, and
Rainout: Here, the particulates, salts and gases act as nuclei forming raindrops (or ice) in
a cloud. (see Aitken particles in Control of Particulate Matter in Gaseous Emissions) Rainout
is an important self-cleaning process in the atmosphere, but is not operative at close range of
the source.
Washing out causes an exponential decline of the pollutant load, defining a washout
coefficient (s-1) given by:

Ct : concentration at time t
C0 : concentration at time 0
: Washout coefficient.

The physical basis for washout is quite different for dust and for soluble gases (compare Dust
Collection, Control of Particulate Matter in Gaseous Emissions. and Wet Scrubbing, Control
of Gaseous Emissions.).
Soluble gases are transferred with a rate proportional to:

a mass transfer factor that can be explained by the two-film theory, the surface renewal
theory, or the penetration theory,
the surface available for transfer, and
the driving force, i.e. the difference between the concentration at saturation and the real
concentration (cf. Two film Theory).
Solid particles are washed out at the moment of impaction.
Falling rain droplets push the air aside on their way down; small particles may follow the air
movement, and escape from being collected. The falling drop impacts and intercepts coarser
particles. Possibly, not all impacted particles are also effectively collected in the droplet, but
this finer distinction is normally neglected. Slinn derived an empirical equation featuring three
terms, one for describing the diffusion of the particles towards the droplet, the second related
to the interception of particles by the droplets and the third to the effect of impaction:

Re : Reynolds Number = RVs/v
Sc : Schmidt Number = v/D


Pe : Pclet Number Re. Sc

St : Stokes Number TVIR





: 2/3

: r/R

: kinematic viscosity

: Relaxation time for particles


: diffusion constant

: particle radius

: droplet radius

Vs : falling velocity, for a droplet with radius R

The collection efficiency E is represented as a function of particle radius, r and droplet size,
R. Large particles are collected by impaction, small ones by diffusion. For a particle size
between 0.01 m and 1 m dry deposition becomes less efficient, which was also the case for
dry deposition. This explains why these particles are often transported over large distances.

Figure 10: Deposition Velocity as function of the Particle Diameter

The washout coefficient d for particles is proportional with this collected fraction E(r, R), but
also with the volume assumed by the precipitation, namely:


and with the number of dust particles


: number of raindrops with radius between R and R+dR;


: falling velocity of a raindrop with radius R;

n(r) dr

: number of dust particles with radius between r and r+dr.

The integral form for the washout coefficient is hence:

An analytical solution requires that E (r, R) is expressed under a mathematical form
(Slinn), and also the spectrum N(R) (Slade) and the particle size distribution n(r). However,
given the similarity between formula (6) and the integral determining the rain intensity, J
(unit: mm h-1) it is concluded that the washout coefficient depends on rain intensity.

Wet deposition by snow or hail
Snow and hai1 are also capable of removing dust from the atmosphere, but data is very
scarce. Slade stated that snow is most effective in collecting large particles. Sweeping
collection may be more effective than rain for small particles because of the large specific
surface and the electric charges of snow flocks.
9.2. Modeling of wet deposition
In order to account for wet deposition the usual bi-Gaussian model is adapted by replacing the
source term Q by Q (x) to take account of gradual source depletion:

with x/u(he) = t. From formulas (10) and (8) the concentration can be derived. The
deposition flux n is given as:

Integration over the z-axis is required, since wet deposition removes the airborne material
all over the plume height and not exclusively close to ground surface, as was the case for dry
Slade argues about the two terms appearing in formula (9) that both do not necessarily have
the same value: the first being related to wet deposition at t = x/h(he), whereas the second
considers earlier precipitation! In the absence of adequate data, however, a single value is
10. Conclusions
Wet scrubbing is a possible option in dust collection, mainly used in special cases, in which
dry dust collection is impractical. The best choice is normally the Venturi scrubber, whether in
its original, lengthy design, or in radial-flow, spiral-flow, or other developments.

Particle size distribution is the most critical parameter in choosing the most effective scrubber
design and determining the overall collection efficiency. Major variables are dust properties
and exhaust gas characteristics. Efficient particle removal requires high gas-to-liquid
(relative) velocities. The static pressure drop of a system is dependent on the collection
efficiency required, on the mechanical design of the system and on the Liquid to Particleratio.
Wet scrubbers must be followed by careful droplet and mist separation, since part of the liquor
is otherwise emitted as a rain, a plume, and in some cases
as a fog.
Empirical relationships, theoretical models and pilot scale test data have all been used in
designing wet scrubbers. There is no one simple equation that can be used to estimate
scrubber collection efficiency for all scrubber types. Wet electrostatic precipitators are a prime
choice for cleaning metallurgical or acid plant off-gases, which are difficult to clean
Some aspects of scrubbers are still poorly documented, i.e. conditioning the gas prior to
scrubbing, as well as mist formation and removal.
Related Chapters
Click Here To View The Related Chapters
Aitken particles
Brownian Diffusion
Collection efficiency
Direct Interception
Inertial Impaction
Mist Eliminator
Stefan-flow effect
Venturi Scrubber

:atmospheric particles with diameter lower than 0.1 micrometer.

:device, designed to break-up liquid into a multitude of droplets, for
the purpose of increasing surface area.
:random movement of particles, as a consequence of molecules
colliding, triggering interception and coalescence of submicron
:yield with which a particular particle size is removed under specific
operating conditions.
:saturation of the original dust particles with vapors from the
scrubbing liquor so that they become denser and acquire a larger
affinity for the scrubbing liquor.
:retention of micron-range particles by contact with dust particles,
filter fibers, or other obstacles.
:collection mechanism, based on inertial deviation from carrier gas
:generic term for devices, based on impaction, interception, diffusion,
and electrostatic attraction, to remove droplets and aerosols from a
gas stream.
:is defined as the fraction of particles, f (system), in the exhaust
stream that passes through the scrubber uncollected.
:condensation of fog droplets on Aitken particles eventually followed
by elimination of atmospheric particulate.
:net flow in otherwise stagnant gas, away from the surface of an
evaporating or toward the surface condensing fluid.
:wet dust collector, based upon high-velocity impaction of dust
particles on droplets.

:the scavenging of atmospheric particulate by falling raindrops.
Wet Electrostatic
:a particular type of electrofilter, utilizing liquid flow or sprays to
Precipitator (WESP) wash down the dust particles from the collector surface continuously
or, more often, intermittently.
Baeyens J., Lamberts W., Neyens E. (2003). Dispersion of Air Pollution (Dispersie van luchtverontreiniging),
Procestechnieken en
engineering, 43 (34370), 11-34.
Calvert S., Goldschmid J., Leith D., and Mehta D. (1972). Wet Scrubber System Study. Scrubber Handbook,
Vol. 1, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Report No. EPA-R2-72-118a., PB 213 016, August 1972.;&rank=4&template=epa.
Scrubber Inspection and Evaluation Manual, prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA340/1-83-022, September 1983.
4891fcb85256b66004ee90e/$FILE/12bles5.pdf, Lesson 5 - Industrial Applications of ESPs.
b4256c485256b6c006d8ab4/$FILE/si412c_lesson10.pdf, Lesson 10 - Design Evaluation of Particulate Wet
Scrubbing Systems.
Lapple, C. E., and Kamack H. J. (1955). Performance of wet dust scrubbers, Chemical Engineering Progress, 51,
Semrau, K. T. (1960). Correlation of dust scrubber efficiency, Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association,
10, 200-207.
Semrau, K. T. (1963). Dust scrubber design - a critique on the state of the art, Journal of the Air Pollution
Control Association, 13, 587-593.
Slade D. H. (1968). Meteorology and atomic energy
Energy Commission, July 1968, Report TID-24190.

Part: Dry and wet deposition, U.S. Atomic

Slinn, S. (1977). Some approximations for the wet and dry removal of particles and gases from the
atmosphere, Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 7, 513-543.
Biographical Sketch
Alfons Buekens was born in Aalst, Belgium; he obtained his M.Sc. (1964) and his Ph.D (1967) at Ghent
University (RUG) and received the K.V.I.V.-Award (1965), the Robert De Keyser Award (Belgian Shell Co.,
1968), the Krber Foundation Award (1988) and the Coca Cola Foundation Award (1989). Dr. Buekens was full
professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), since 2002 emeritus. He lectured in Ankara, Cochabamba,
Delft, Essen, Sofia, Surabaya, and was in 2002 and 2003 Invited Professor at the Tohoku University of Sendai.
Since 1976 he acted as an Environmental Consultant for the European Union, for UNIDO and WHO and as an
Advisor to Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, T.N.O. and VITO. For 25 years, he advised the major industrial
Belgian Bank and conducted more than 600 audits of enterprise.
Main activities are in thermal and catalytic processes, waste management, and flue gas cleaning, with emphasis
on heavy metals, dioxins, and other semi-volatiles. He coordinated diverse national and international research
projects (Acronyms Cycleplast, Upcycle, and Minidip). Dr. Buekens is author of one book, edited several books
and a Technical Encyclopedia and authored more than 90 scientific publications in refereed journals and more
than 150 presentations at international congresses. He is a member of Editorial Boards for different journals and
book series.
He played a role in the foundation of the Flemish Waste Management Authority O.V.A.M., of a hazardous waste
enterprise INDAVER, and the Environmental Protection Agency B.I.M./I.B.G.E. He was principal ministerial
advisor in Brussels for matters regarding Environment, Housing, and Classified Enterprise (1989). Since 1970 he

has been a Member of the Board of the Belgian Consumer Association and of Conseur, grouping more than a
million members in Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
He is licensed expert for conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (Air, Water, Soil) and Safety Studies
regarding large accidents (Seveso Directive).

To cite this chapter

A. Buekens, (2004), WET SCRUBBERS, in Pollution Control Technologies, [Eds. Bhaskar Nath, and Georgi
St. Cholakov], in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the
UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford ,UK, [] [Retrieved August 31, 2007]