What is Smoke
To understand how a smoke eater works it is important to learn what smoke is. It is created during the process of burning or combustion. When you burn a fuel smoke is created. The human eye can see particles bigger than 7 microns. Particles that are smaller are called gasses and fumes
The amount of smoke depends on fuel and the amount of oxygen being burned. As more oxygen is available, the combustion temperature increases. Combustion temperatures directly affect the amount of smoke: The higher the temperature the less smoke is created. Lower combustion processes like smoking create more smoke.
Sources of Smoke
We usually think of smoke that comes from cigars and cigarettes. These products are tightly packed. They have a limited source of oxygen, so they produce a large amount of smoke. Cigars are rolled very tight, leaving even less room oxygen compared to cigarettes. So, its no surprise they create more smoke than their little cousins the cigarette. Another way to consume tobacco is Hookah. Hookah smoke is drawn through water. This process produces even more smoke than cigars. When we approach the task of removing smoke from an area we suggest an area where cigarettes are smoked have 15 ACH (air changes per hour). Cigars require 20ACH while Hookah need about 25 ACH for proper air purification.
Wild Fire smoke has become an all too real part of life. All 50 states are currently experiencing the affects of wild fire smoke. Some experts claim that the current rash of wild fires is caused by global warming. The CDC warns “Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other material. Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick, but people with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or heart disease pdf icon, and childrenexternal icon, pregnant women, and responders are especially at risk.”
Many manufacturing methods create fumes. Welding for instance creates gases high in metal oxides. Welding uses high voltage electricity to bond 2 metal surfaced together. As the metal melt together the gasses given off appear mostly as smoke. that is very high in metal oxide gasses. The production of materials like plastic and adhesives create a great deal of smoke. The raw petroleum is heated in a process called fractional distillation that heats petroleum to high temperatures to separate it into various petroleum products. the smoke that results is full of toxic gasses like nitrogen oxide. Textile manufacturing is second only to agriculture in the amount of pollution they create, much of it smoke with a high carbon monoxide content.
The smoke from the transportation industries is high in nitroxide. 55% of all the NO emissions in the US are transportation related. This smoke is often seen as smog. It plagues many urban areas across the USA. The smoke from cars and trucks seep their way into our neighborhoods and homes.
Getting Rid of the Smoke
Now we know what smoke is and where it comes from, how do we get rid of it in our businesses and homes. There are 3 basic methods of removing smoke. The most effective is HEPA air purification. A true HEPA removes 99.97% of all smoke. The most cost-effective way to remove smoke is with an Electrostatic Filter. A LakeAir Electronic cell removes 97% of this nasty by-product. Media is the least effective but lowest initial cost method to remove smoke.
Good ventilation removes much of the indoor air pollution from an area. However, reheating or cooling the air in our homes or businesses is costly. Makeup air can be a part of your clean air solution. It usually is not enough. You can use both air purification and makeup air to create your own custom smoke removal solution. We learned that smoke is made up of solid, liquid and gas particles. Different technologies can be used to remove these particles.
Media is a filter made of cotton or synthetic woven materials. The fibers catch the particles as they pass through the filter. Media filters are rated by a MERV rating standard MERV 11 is the lowest rating that will remove smoke. MERV 12 – 16 filters require special air moving equipment. You should not use them in your home heating or HVAC systems. Some media is electrically charged but does not do a better job of removing smoke. Media filtration is only a stop-gap measure.
HEPA filters are the most effective at removing smoke. True HEPA filters 99.97% of particles. However, they have drawbacks. If the air purifier blower is not powerful enough it moves far too little air to be effective. They have a higher cost of maintenance due to the cost of filter replacement. No filtering technology removes smoke and odor on its own. A HEPA filter must incorporate activated charcoal filtration to be effective on the odor.
A LakeAir Electrostatic smoke eater uses 2 types of air filter technologies. The first air filter is an electrostatic precipitator. Smoke is given an electrical charge in the first section. In the second section, the smoke is attracted to the aluminum plates just like metal to a magnet. The particles are trapped on the plates until it is washed away. Our electrostatic cells are 97% efficient on smoke particles as small .1 microns. They have a low cost of maintenance but must be kept clean to be truly efficient.
Activated Carbon removes smoke odor
There is 1 safe technology for removing smoke odors. Activated carbon absorbs smoke odors. After a carbon filter is full, it should be discarded and replaced with a new filter.
After the primary filter has removed the pollution particles, the air moves into an activated carbon filter. How is activated carbon made? Activated carbon is carbon that has been treated with oxygen. The treatment gives carbon millions of tiny holes. These tiny holes give the charcoal a tremendously large surface. The gases pass through the charcoal where it is trapped. This process is called adsorption. Activated charcoal absorbs smoke odor like a sponge. It is the best product known for removing this smell. At LakeAir we use coconut shell carbon it is better than bituminous carbon (made from coal) at removing odors common to homes and commercial applications.
Every smoke removal solution should include activated charcoal as part of its air cleaning system. Each granule of carbon has a specific amount of odor it can hold. When a carbon granule has adsorbed as many odors as it can, it is saturated. The filter then needs to be replaced. There are over 150 types of activated carbon. LakeAir carbon filters use high-quality carbon manufactured specifically for the removal of smoke odor and other common gasses and VOCs.
Some VOCs like TCE (dry cleaner fluid) are more likely to be absorbed by potassium permanganate impregnated zeolite. At LakeAir we have the ability to produce sophisticated carbon blends to better handle odors and VOCs for special applications
LakeAir Smoke Removal Solutions
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