Experimental study of electrostatic hazard inside scrubber column using response surface methodology Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2019 Electrostatic ignition has triggered significant fire/explosion incidents in liquid processing industries including chemical, oil/gas, food, pharmaceutical and transportation. In this work, the impact of gas-velocity and temperature on the electrostatic energy accumulation in a scrubber column was studied. An in-situ charge measurement apparatus combined with a particle scattering laser function was installed inside a pilot-scale column filled with water through which nitrogen was sparged; the formed aerosol particle size distribution, concentration, mass and charge were measured simultaneously. Response surface methodology was employed to construct a quadratic model correlating the electrostatic energy response with the gas velocity and column temperature. Four scenarios were considered and their capacity to provoke ignition was evaluated. Temperature was found affect the charged aerosol droplet size but also to facilitate the charge relaxation in the liquid phase. The faster the gas velocity the higher the electrostatic energy accumulation and the probability of ignition. In the presence of non-grounded conductors, the maximum electrostatic energy from spark discharge was found above the minimum ignition energy of some flammable chemicals and poses as significant fires or explosion risk. In contrast, if there is no ungrounded conductor, the corona discharge was found not sufficient for electrostatic ignition in the range of temperature and gas velocity in this study. To reduce the electrostatic hazards, it is recommended to remove ungrounded conductors within the column. And the gas flow should be maintained at minimum if ungrounded conductors are present.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, J., Sun, Y., Gao, X., Mannan, M. S., & Wilhite, B.

citation count

  • 11

publication date

  • June 2019