When you use any amount of chemicals in an industrial or municipal setting, these chemicals can be hazardous to the health of everyone in the facility if they aren’t handled with care. Many chemical applications will produce vapor fumes that can be dangerous to a person’s health as well as the environment. If these fumes aren’t dealt with accordingly, they can also damage tank integrity and efficiency. In order to get rid of these fumes, you should look into acid fume scrubbers.

An acid fume scrubber is a device that’s designed to assist in chemical and pollution control. When installed correctly, an acid fume scrubber can mitigate toxic vapors, chemical gases, odors, acid fumes, and particulates. These fumes are passed through a medium within the device that can absorb and dissolve any harmful and unwanted fumes. Acid fume scrubbers are particularly important for industrial facilities that are tasked with adhering to federal regulations that pertain to air pollutants.

While an acid fume scrubber is similar to an odor scrubber, it has additional functionalities and features that allow you to get rid of many different types of air pollutants that odor scrubbers may be unable to efficiently eliminate. Among the most common chemicals that an acid fume scrubber would be needed for is hydrochloric acid. National emissions standards are in place for hydrochloric acid and similar chemicals.

If your industrial facility uses an ample amount of chemicals, you should know how acid fume scrubbers work and if they apply to your situation. This article offers a detailed look at acid fume scrubbers and the types of scrubbers that you can select from.

How Does an Acid Fume Scrubber Work?

Fume scrubbers are designed for the purpose of neutralizing or eliminating harmful fumes that result from storing chemicals. In many cases, these systems can be custom-designed to ensure a proper fit in your facility. It’s possible for an acid fume scrubber to be designed with either a vertical or horizontal orientation. Before you purchase an acid fume scrubber for your facility, it’s important to understand the differences between the two types of scrubbers that you can select from.

The two main acid fume scrubbers available to you include wet scrubbers and dry scrubbers. If you’ve ever used odor scrubbers in the past, you should know how these two scrubbers differ from one another. The most common acid fume scrubber for industrial settings and chemical applications is a wet scrubber. When you’re storing or using chemicals, a gaseous stream is created. If a wet scrubber has been installed in your building, the gaseous stream will be driven directly to your scrubbing solution before it’s discharged to the air.

If you opt for a wet scrubber, the most common scrubbing solution is water. However, there are some situations that require a different solution than water. It’s possible for the water to have lower solubility than the chemical fumes that have been generated, which indicates that a reagent or chemical scrubbing solution would be necessary. If you want the scrubbing solution that you use to be at its most effective, it’s important that the solution has a high solubility with any of the produced gases.

If you use water and find that the solubility is low, the chemical solutions that you could use include everything from hydrogen sulfide to amines. Likely the most common solution that’s used in acid fume scrubbers is sodium hydroxide. Keep in mind that the scrubbing solution of your choice will invariably deplete over time, which you should be on the lookout for. When chemical gases are dissolved in the solution, the solution will be slowly depleted as the dissolved gases increase in volume. To mitigate these issues, it’s highly recommended that you stick to regular maintenance and inspection schedules.

You could also decide to use a dry scrubber when attempting to get rid of gaseous fumes. While effective, these scrubbers are primarily designed to get rid of any acidic gases that have been generated from standard combustion processes. The gas-absorbing material that’s housed in this type of scrubber is a dry material as opposed to a wet solution.

The fumes that get sent into the scrubber are absorbed by the dry material, which ensures that these fumes are neutralized. Even though there are several different materials that can be outfitted in a dry scrubber, likely the most commonly used material is activated carbon. The material you decide to use in your dry scrubber system will also deplete over an extended period of time.

Over time, the material becomes less and less effective as a result of the chemical binding sites found on the material becoming depleted as well. You can extend the longevity of your dry scrubber by performing routine maintenance and by replacing the dry material at regular intervals. In most cases, wet scrubbers are considered to be more reliable than their dry counterparts.

Why Are Chemical Scrubbers Needed?

chemical scrubbers diagramChemical scrubbers are needed for practically any industrial facility that uses and stores chemicals. No matter what processes these chemicals are being used for, they will emit fumes that can be hazardous to the ongoing health of anyone in the building. It’s also possible for the tank integrity to be damaged because of prolonged exposure to chemical fumes. Likely the worst effects of chemical fumes relate to the environment. The extent of the damage that’s done to the environment can vary and largely depends on the volume of the chemical that reaches the environment as well as the type of chemical that’s being used.

It’s possible for chemical fumes to remain in the environment for years, which can be harmful to the surrounding ecosystems and anyone who lives in the vicinity. At high amounts, chemical fumes can enter the food chain and damage wildlife. It’s because of the damaging effects of chemical fumes that federal regulations have been implemented for chemical emissions.

In most chemical storage situations, you will need to have a tank venting system installed. These systems can vent fumes that are generated through such applications as:

  • Piping fluid flow
  • Product filling
  • Standard chemical storage
  • Dispensing
  • Stirring, mixing, or some other type of agitation
  • Heating of tank or chemical solution

In order to properly vent chemicals from tank systems, your vent pipes must be set to the correct diameter and will need to be open to the atmosphere. However, a standard venting system should only be used with non-corrosive and non-volatile chemicals. If the chemicals you’re using or storing will generate fumes that exceed federal regulation limits, a fume scrubber should be used. Some of the many chemicals that could require the use of a fume scrubber include:

  • Ammonia
  • Acetic acid
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Nitric acid
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Chlorine
  • Hydrogen bromide
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Silicon dioxide
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Bromine
  • Sodium hypochlorite

Even if you only use small amounts of any of these chemicals, it’s essential that you use an acid scrubber to effectively mitigate or remove the harmful chemical fumes before they are released into the atmosphere. If your facility fails to adhere to federal regulations regarding chemical emissions, heavy fines could be levied against anyone who is deemed to be responsible.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Acid Scrubbers

industrial settingIf you’re thinking about using acid fume scrubbers in your facility, you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages that come with using these systems. The primary advantages of using an acid scrubber include:

  • Relatively small and compact
  • Have a high disposal output
  • It’s possible to create modular systems with multiple steps
  • Allow you to effectively filter potent chemical streams before they are released into the atmosphere

There are, however, some drawbacks to using this system, which include:

  • These systems are mainly designed around acid usage
  • Creates high amounts of effluent
  • Can be relatively expensive
  • Maintenance costs can be high

Even though there are some clear issues that come with using an acid fume scrubber, these systems are practically essential if you use strong chemicals in your facility. The many processes that these acid scrubbers can be used for include:

  • Sterilization
  • Natural degeneration
  • Waste treatment
  • Foundry processes
  • Manure processes
  • Fish food

Acid fume scrubbers have become critical for many municipal and industrial buildings. Even though an acid scrubber can be somewhat expensive, it doesn’t take up much floor space and can be positioned horizontally or vertically to match your building’s interior design. Once this system has been installed, you can be confident that the chemicals stored in your facility are being safely and properly managed in accordance with federal regulations.