Question: What is “normal” differential pressure in a baghouse?
Answer: In most applications a baghouse dust collector should run between between 3″ to 6″ w.g. under normal use. Once levels rise above 6″ (roughly) and the cleaning system cannot return it any lower (even when turned to continuous cleaning or “Test” mode) it is a sign that the filters are beginning to be blinded and likely need to be changed. It is not advisable to run a baghouse with a DP higher than 6″ for any length of time as this will have an impact on the function of the entire system. Running at such a high DP will lead to a number of problems including vacuum loss at the pickup points of the system (loss of suction), lower air speeds in the ductwork, higher emissions, and higher energy usage.
If you are seeing levels below 3″ after having run the baghouse for sometime you liking are getting false DP readings. When brand new bags are installed in a dust collector they should provide approximately 1″ of resistance alone. Once they begin to load dust that number will rise to between 2″ – 3″ no matter how much you clean them.
A clean on demand baghouse controller (i.e. clean on pressure) is the best way to keep a dust collector running in the recommended DP range. (see article: 3 Cheap Ways to Increase Efficiency in Dust Collection Systems)
Question: What is minimum conveying velocity in my baghouse and why is it important
Answer: The minimum airspeed required to keep dust particles suspended in the conveying system (i.e. dust collection system). When the air in any part of the dust collection system slows below the minimum conveying velocity the dust will begin to drop out of airstream and settle to the bottom of the ductwork (known as product drop out).
Maintaining the airspeed throughout the system above the minimum conveying velocity is required to prevent the accumulation of dust in the ductwork. Overtime, dust can accumulate into large piles, eventually blocking off part of the ductwork and reducing suction downstream in the system, further compounding the problem. Blockages can also cause the passing airstream to accelerate (forcing same air through a smaller space) that can lead to abrasion issues and eventually wear holes into the ductwork. Large accumulations of dust can eventually collapse sections of the ductwork due to the added weight.
Preventing product drop out is even more serious in applications involving combustible dust. Any accumulations of dust within the ductwork provide a potential fuel source for any ignition source that may find its way into the ductwork such as sparks. Additionally, if a fire starts in one part of the system it could continue to propagate throughout the rest of the system being fed by the accumulations in the ductwork. Further, if the system is operating below capacity due to blockages, dust may accumulate elsewhere in the facility including on elevates spaces that can then become fuel for both primary and secondary dust fires and explosions.
Question: Why are my baghouse filters so expensive to replace?
Answer: Many simply buy their replacement filters from the OEM or sales rep that supplied their baghouse. Often times, manufacturers and sales rep organizations deliberately sell their units cheaper and then make convince their customers that they are locked into using a proprietary filter design that only they can supply and thus they charge outrageously high prices for them. Other times, they convince their customers to use an outdated or rarely-used technology so hard to find form other manufacturers that it nearly guarantees them your repeat business for replacement parts. This is common with many cartridge collector OEMs, whereby they win the initial unit sale by undercutting other manufacturers (often by recommending a undersized dust collection system) and then plan on making their profit on the expensive replacement filters later on. This marketing technique is commonly called the “razor blade” system, for its well-known use by makers of disposable razors and cartridges.
Need New Filters?
We offer replacement baghouse filters, cartridges, and pleated filters for all makes and models of dust collectors, including the most popular brands Farr, Donaldson / Torrit, Wheelabrator, and more. Often we can offer significantly better prices than buying from the original dust collector manufacture, sometimes as much as 50% less! If you do not believe us, give us a try and let us give you a quote for your next set of replacement baghouse filters.
Question: How long will my baghouse filters last?
Answer: Baghouse filters have an average service life of 1-3 years in most applications. Some can go beyond that without major increases emissions, while others may last less than a year in more difficult applications. The main reason to replace baghouse filters is because when old they begin to leak and thus the system is no longer collecting particulates as its designed to do. Filters can also be damaged prematurely by sparks/embers that can cause fires or even explosions. Upset conditions in the process may cause a spike in temperature (beyond the maximum for the filter fabric) or may create an acid flash or similar chemical attack on the bags. Finally, bags may be damaged during maintenance or by other external forces.
The main signs that your filters need to be replaced are that they are can no longer be cleaned effectively by the baghouse and/or they start leaking.
Question: What does it mean when my baghouse filters are “blinded”?
Answer: Blinded filters means the filters are so loaded with dust that they can no longer be cleaned by the baghouse cleaning system and must be replaced.
During normal operation dust particles accumulate on the surface of the filters and form a dust cake, which is then cleaned by the pulses of compressed air during the cleaning cycle. Overtime, some dust particles pass through the surface layer and become embedded deep within the fibers of the filter fabric where it cannot be removed by the cleaning pulses. Eventually, the fabric becomes so filled with dust particles that it severely restricts the movement of air through the filter. When this occurs the filter is said to be “blinded”.
When a baghouse can no longer clean itself down to a lower DP range (e.g. below 6” of DP) even with constant cleaning (i.e. continuous cleaning mode or test mode) it is likely that the filters are blinded and must be replaced.
Question: What does the “On-Time” setting on my baghouse control board do?
Answer: On-Time determines how long the pulse valve is open for during a cleaning cycle. This setting is VERY important for proper cleaning of the baghouse filters on a pulse jet dust collector. If set too long then the air pulses will be weak and waste compressed air, lower pressure in the air header (causing delays while it builds back up or weakening the following pulses) or even damage the filters. If set too short not enough air volume will be released to clean the entire bag. It will also cause uneven dust loading on the bags, which in turn can cause a long list of problems in the collector.
Question: What should I set as the “On-Time” on my baghouse control board?
Answer: As a general rule, this should be set to between .01 – .015 ms (milliseconds). For certain specific applications (such as pleated filters, or certain “sticky” dusts) your dust collector OEM might provide you with a slightly different setting.
Question: What is clean-on-demand and why should I use it instead of just setting a timer?
Answer: Clean on demand (or clean on pressure) is a means of controlling a pulse jet baghouse cleaning system. It is the most effective way to operate your dust collector and it can lead to considerable savings in several areas.
Using a clean on demand baghouse controller, operators set high and low differential pressure points (usually 5.5″ and 3″ respectively). When the DP reading hits the high point the control board begins firing the pulse valve(s). It will continue firing them in order until the DP drops below the low point.
In contrast to a simple timer board, a clean on demand controller only cleans the bags only when necessary to maintain stable operation. This prevents over cleaning (which increases wear and produces higher emissions), reduces compressed air use (costly in most plants), and reduces wear on the diaphragm valves. Additionally, clean on demand controllers are able to adapt to changes in dust loads (common in most applications) something timers cannot do.
Yes, there is a difference between the two. One is used to increase collection efficiency and one is used primarily for protecting the filter bags from chemical attack.
What Are PTFE Membrane Filter Bags?
PTFE membrane is semi-porous layer of PTFE bonded to the surface of a filter. This membrane acts at a permanent dustcake, capturing incoming dust particles (i.e. particulate matter or PM 2.5) on the surface of the filter (surface filtration) as opposed to normal filters that require a thick layer of dust buildup (dustcake) to actually reach peak efficiency. This means that PTFE membrane bags can operate at peak collection efficiency from the moment they are installed, and do not need to be precoated. Overtime, the membrane also works against the dust penetrating deep into the depth of the filter fabric, which is the cause of filter blinding. For this reason, PTFE membrane bags often last considerably longer than standard filter bags and have a more consistent differential pressure over time.
PTFE Baghouse filters with PTFE membrane have the highest collection efficiency of all filters in production today. Bags using membrane technology can collect particulate matter down to 2.5 microns in size at over 99.99% efficiency. (In laboratory testing one OEM’s PTFE filters had 0.00% detectable emissions in the test rig). For this reason, in the applications with very tight emissions requirements, PTFE membrane filters are the standard.
Membrane bags are not recommended for a few limited applications, usually involving oils and hydrocarbons are these can close off the pores of the membrane and cause the filter to plug up.
What Are Filter Bags with PTFE Finish or Treatment?
In this use of PTFE, rather than creating a surface layer or membrane on top of the filter, the filter fabric is coated in a bath or spray of liquid polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) resin. This is done to protect the filter. The treatment improves the flex life, heat and chemical resistance and dust release from the fabric. This increases the service life and efficiency of the filters. PTFE finish is commonly used in applications with corrosive chemical compounds, sticky dusts, or high moisture contents.
Would you like to learn how PTFE membrane filter bags can improve your dust collector operation and save you money? Contact us today to find out more!
The answer is that it depends…In many applications it is possible to reuse the cages once or possibly more. But in many other applications it may not be wise to reuse the cages.
Damaged Baghouse Cages From Corrosion and Mishandling
The main two types of cage damage we see are physical damage (bending, breaking, warping, etc.) and corrosion. Cages frequently get bent or broken by maintenance personnel over time by handling during changeouts and maintenance work. Other times, cages are damaged when stacked on top of each other for storage. Additionally, fires or temperature excursions can warp cages.
Corrosion can occur from chemical attacks (e.g. acid flashes,) or upset conditions within the system. In some applications, high moisture levels can promote corrosion of the metal cages very quickly. And sometimes cages are stored outside uncovered and left exposed to the elements.
Reusing Damaged Cages Will Cause Your Baghouse Filters To Fail Sooner!
There are three ways damaged or corroded cages cause filters to fail:
- When pulsed bent cages can cause the filters to rub against each other or against the sides of the collector causing the bags to tear open
- Bent, twisted, or broken cages will have many sharp edges that can cut holes in the fabric very quickly when pulsed
- Rusted or corroded cages will eat through the bag fabric and very quickly cause holes to appear.
In applications with very corrosive environment
(acid/alkali compounds, high humidity, condensation, etc.) such as foundries, dryers, chemical processing, etc., it is essential to avoid reusing cages that are damaged or corroded.
Even in applications with milder environments, the frequent handling of cages during repeated changeouts will eventually result in damage to the cages. Using cages in good condition extends filter life and improves efficiency by preventing:
- Tearing or cutting filter on sharp edges
- Damage from abrasion from other bags or unit
- Corrosion eating through the fabric on the bags (Consider investing in galvanized, epoxy-coated or stainless steel cages to improve resistance to corrosion
- Ineffective cleaning by ensuring the bags are properly fitted to the cages (Bags need to fit correctly
across entire cage in order to get the required snap back when pulsed with air…not possible with bent cages
Reusing Damaged Cages Can Cost You Dearly
Even minor rips, holes, and tears in the bags can lead to exceeding emissions limits. In many plants, such a problem will cause an emissions spike, becoming a “reportable event”, with possible fines and sanctions from regulators as a consequence. Additionally, any baghouse malfunction has the potential for causing plant-wide problems, that may lead to shutdowns, production losses and other costs far in excess of replacing the cages.
You can avoid all these problems and more by not using damaged or corroded cages in your baghouse. Additionally, if you keep spare cages on site at your facility make sure to store them where they are protected from corrosion and avoid stacking to many rows on top of another to prevent bending.
Do you have corroded or bent cages in your baghouse? Let us give you a quote today for new cages along with your next set of replacement filters and receive a discount on both! Contact us now for a free quote.
Dust collector OEMs constantly try to come in with bids lower than competitors. In an attempt to do so, some baghouse manufacturers offer undersized systems. This article discusses what customers can do to avoid accepting a bid for an inadequately-sized baghouse dust collection system.
By Dominick DalSanto
Dust Collection Expert & Sales Director
”I’m sorry, but the other supplier came in lower than you. We went with their proposal over yours.”
I think there are few things I hate hearing more than those words in my position in baghouse sales. I can respect a client who has found a better deal on a comparable system. But I am upset when I hear that my competition came in with a bid lower than mine by recommending a grossly undersized system. As a sales professional, this particularly exasperates me as I feel these OEMs abuse the level of trust placed in them by the customer by offering something they know will not work properly — and because I know how big a problem it is in our industry.
Many sales reps apparently believe in the viability of their plans, and, thus, offer them in good faith, but others have — and will — propose systems that are smaller than customers require knowing that it will not perform adequately. The end result is that vital baghouse systems do not operate adequately, and customers, workers, and the community end up paying the price in the form of higher operating costs, safety hazards, and more pollutants.
The situation can present a major problem for customers as most of them rely on the experience and expertise of baghouse manufacturers or environmental technology experts to recommend a properly sized system. Lacking knowledge on dust collection engineering and industry best practice, customers must rely on others without being able to independently verify their figures.
The question this arises, how can customers prevent this from happening?
Baghouse Case Study at Silver Mine Lab
A few years ago, a silver mining operation contacted us and requested a technical inspection of one of the mine’s baghouse dust collection systems. The task was to examine a small 5,000 cfm system used for venting an onsite testing lab. In the lab, plant personnel conducted daily tests of ore samples taken from various locations in the mine to ascertain which areas had the highest concentrations of silver ore. The process for conducting these tests involved the use of several extremely harmful substances, chiefly lead and cyanide.The main concern was that during some recent evaluations for safety purposes, lead dust had been found on windowsills and in nearby rooms. Additionally, the amount of lead dust found on the clothing of workers in these areas — specifically lab technicians — was found to be several times higher than allowable under MSA standards, leading to one worker requesting a transfer to a different department. In addition, the system itself appeared to function at a very low level of efficiency and “did not seem to run properly,” according to staff.
Problem — An Undersized Baghouse System
After conducting an inspection and reviewing several elements of the system, I immediately realized it was grossly undersized. It was “designed” to ventilate the testing lab using a series of venting hoods and vented workstations. There were five pickup points in the system that were connected directly to the baghouse, which was located just outside the exterior wall. The first drop point was a large backdraft workstation (Picture #2), 72 in. x 36 in., for mixing the lead and other compounds together with the ore samples. There were three small furnaces — used to heat samples — with venting hoods of 32 in. x 39 in. above them. And there was one tall, ducted workstation, 32 in. x 39 in., used as a back-up for the other mixing station. Venting for everything went straight up through the ceiling to the main trunk (Picture #3), which then ran directly out through the exterior wall and into the baghouse. The main trunk was 12 in. in diameter, tapering to 10 in. then 8 in. then 6 in. The main workstation was connected using a 10 in. duct, and all others used a 5-in. duct (Picture #4) to connect the hoods to the main trunk.
According to the supplier-provided specifications, the baghouse had (49) 5.5 in. x 10 in. bags, and the system fan was rated for 5,043 cfm at approximately 10 in. w.g. of pressure. In this arrangement, the system should have resulted in an air-to-cloth ratio of approximately 7.15:1.
After manually taking airflow readings, I found that the system cfm actually was 3,969. Additionally, when we physically removed a sample bag and measured it, we found it to be 5 in. in diameter, not 5.5 in. as the spec sheet listed. After crunching the numbers, we determined that the air velocity was, at times, below 79 ft./m. This was less than one-50th of the minimum recommend air velocity for this application.
Poor ductwork design, a grossly undersized baghouse, and an equally underpowered fan combined to make this system almost worthless to the facility. (they neglected to size the fan based on the relative elevation and in doing reduced the output of the already undersized fan by another 30%) The effective pull from the system was so weak that one could place a hand directly under the intake on any of the stations and feel almost no noticeable suction — even when the system was running at full power. It was so weak it could hardly lift a piece of paper out of my hand! Obviously, this led to the excessive contamination of the workers and surrounding area.
Why So Small?
The system was designed by in-house personnel, who had no air-handling engineering experience, and a testing lab consulting company. The consultant procured the system from a sales rep organization, which, in turn, procured it from another independent sales rep that worked with the manufacturer. The final cost of the system was more than $75,000 for the baghouse, fan, ductwork, and hoods — much of that being mark-up for all the parties involved. The system was undersized from the start, so while cheaper for the customer, it ended up virtually useless for that customer.
Using even rough calculations, with a minimum conveying velocity of 250 ft./m in the hoods — and that really should have been even higher — the system would have required at least 12,000 cfm to function at an adequate level. Heavy dusts such as lead require high conveying velocities between 4,000 ft/min or more to prevent product drop out. This would mean a much larger system fan, (adjusted to the 4,400-foot geographic elevation of the plant), a baghouse with either triple the amount of bag filters or the use of pleated filter elements to increase filter area, and a completely redesigned ductwork system with a larger trunk and branches, along with better hood design and a damper system to further increase collection efficiency.
Solution — How to Avoid Being Sold an Undersized System
Some may feel that this case study serves only as a horror story to scare potential buyers on the pitfalls of trusting unscrupulous salespeople. I agree that part of the reason for telling this story is to advise you that implicitly trusting any vendor trying to sell you something as large and expensive as a dust collection system is not wise. The main moral of the story, however, is to help you make sure you get the best dust collection system for your needs. In the previously outlined case study, the following steps may have helped prevent this disaster:
1) The first step is to do your homework before you call for quotes. While becoming an expert on every piece of industrial equipment before contacting vendors isn’t feasible, gaining as much knowledge as possible goes a long way to ensuring you get what you need. Knowledge provides you with leverage during the sales process. Since, in this case, company personnel went in completely ignorant of how a dust collection system operates, they were at the mercy of whatever their vendor was going to tell them. This meant they had no idea of air-to-cloth ratios, air conveying velocities, ductwork design, etc.Additionally, where possible, deal directly with a baghouse dust collector manufacture (such as Baghouse.com) as opposed to sales rep organizations, that often have little to no practice experience engineering dust collection solutions.
2) Second, verify vendor calculations. While at times you may be able to determine exactly what size a system you need on your own, you may require assistance. This is especially true with regard to new installations and new processes. There is nothing wrong with asking vendors to assist you, but make sure to review their numbers afterward. This may require a bit of research or even hiring an outside consultant to verify the engineering. In the case study, had plant personnel taken the time to review system specifications proposed by the vendor, people would have found that the figures were far off from accepted industry standards. (See the American Council of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Manual for standards on minimum air-conveying speeds and system design standards.) This would have exposed that the system was grossly undersized and allowed staff either to correct the problem or to seek a different vendor.
3) Third, seek alternative proposals. Had the company solicited alternative bids, personnel likely would have noticed the obvious discrepancies between them. Additional proposals likely would have shown a large difference in price, owing to the vendor’s undersizing of the system. Other vendors (likely) would have submitted more realistic proposals. Instead of believing that any one supplier somehow may have managed to undercut the competition by such a large margin — while offering an adequate product — the wise course would be to investigate why one bid would come in so much lower than the others and correct any mistakes that may have been made.
Yes, this story is meant to raise concerns over the buying process, but that is a good thing for potential buyers. If they keep in mind the points outlined here, they can avoid the pitfalls of an installing an undersized dust collection system and avoid the complications that can come with it.
Beginning today, Baghouse.com has become the only major dust collector manufacturer and parts supplier that allows its customers to directly purchases items online. With our new online shopping cart interface, buying baghouse products is as easy as buying your favorite book from Amazon.com.
Starting in March, 2015, visitors to Baghouse.com can order online leak testing supplies, including leak testing powder and leak testing light kits directly from Baghouse.com. As time goes on, we will introduce this ability to other products as well.
Why is This a Major Improvement?
While other suppliers require you to fill out a contact form and wait for a response before you can order your leak testing supplies. This process is slow and requires many emails/phone calls back and forth before you can actually place your order. Now with our new online setup, this entire process has been simplified and allows you to place an order in only a few minutes.
How To Order Leak Testing Supplies on Baghouse.com Without a Quote
First, visit our page with information about our dust collector leak testing supplies, including our leak testing powder, and leak detection light kits. There you will find a description of our leak powder and light kits. You can also use the information there to determine (a) how much leak powder you require and (b) which color(s) you should order.
To Order Leak Powder: Select your color(s), how many pounds you want to order and then click “add to cart”. This will then redirect you to the checkout page where you can review your order. If you want to add additional items to your cart (e.g. leak testing light kits, etc.) you can return to those areas using the menu links on the page.
To Order Black Light Kits: Select the number of kits you wish order, and then click “add to cart”.
When you are ready to checkout, click on the “checkout” button on the checkout page. Here you will be shown a summery of your order and asked to enter your billing/shipping information. You can also specify a shipping method (if multiple methods are available) and add notes to your order. When you are done, enter your credit card information and submit the order. You should receive a confirmation email with a receipt. We will follow up with you to confirm a shipment date and to answer any questions you included in your order.
A New Way to Buy Dust Collector Replacement Parts
With this new system, Baghouse.com hopes to revolutionize the way you buy dust collector products. As time goes on we hope to add additional products to our website for instant online purchase. Of course, if you have a rather large order quantity, or would like to order these parts together with other products/services that require a quote (filter bags, dust collection systems, system audits/inspections, etc.) we would be happy to quote them together.
If you have any questions regarding placing an order for leak testing supplies, or any other products/services on our site, please feel free to give us a call at (702) 848-3990, or email us using our contact us form.
Slag processing facility recently agreed to pay over $325,000 in fines for a violation of their air permit. What major infraction lead to such an immense fine? A broken differential pressure gauge on their baghouse!
By Dominick DalSanto
Dust Collection Expert
Portage, Indiana – On September 18th, 2014 a manufacturing plant agreed to pay $325,000 in fines over a broken dust collector differential pressure gauge and falsified reports.
Calumite Company LLC manufactures an additive for the glass industry made from recycled slag from nearby steel mills. As part of its air permit with the state of Indiana, the company is require to operate dust collection systems throughout the plant and to record and report their operation efficiency to state regulators.
Over a period of at least 16 months this particular unit did not have a working differential pressure gauge (also called a magnehelic gauge). Rather than replace the broken gauge, workers regularly estimated DP readings for their reports and then submitted them to state and federal regulators as required. The dust collector in question controlled emissions from the loading and unloading of the company’s product onto railcars and truck trailers. During the course of the investigation, several workers admitted to falsifying reports, and supervisors even admitted to knowing about the broken gauge, but signed-off on the readings and submitted the reports anyway.
What is Differential Pressure on a Baghouse?
State and federal regulators often use differential pressure readings to determine how efficiently a dust collector operates and thus use it as a standard for controlling emissions. Differential pressure is the difference in pressure between the clean and dirty air sides of a dust collector. As dirty air passes through the filters in a dust collector it encounters resistance from the fabric and any buildup dirty on the filters. When the filters are clean there is less resistance and thus a lower drop in pressure between the two compartments inside the dust collector. For this reason, differential pressure readings tell operators the current condition of the filters and the unit in general. If the DP is high, it can signify high dust loading, filter blinding (i.e. clogged filters) which in turn lead to high emissions. A abnormally low reading can also mean that the filters have holes in them or have come lose…also resulting in high emissions.
Lessons Learned? – Do Not Neglect The Dust Collectors
The company was fined for operating one of its dust collectors without taking accurate differential pressure readings. While most dust collection related penalties and fines are related to failure to replace blinded or torn dust collector filters (often due exceeded service life, lower efficiency media, or pushing too much airflow through the filters) this fine comes solely from a failure to accurately monitor the dust collector operation and to record and report it accurately.
The take away here is to never neglect dust collection system maintenance, operation, and especially as this case highlights, reporting. While keeping up with the many regulations, regulations, standards, and requirements imposed on facility managers for dust collection systems might pose a challenge, forgoing the needed maintenance to change something seemingly small and unimportant (in this case a DP gauge) will eventually cost far more in fines, lost productivity, system downtime, and repair costs than maintaining the system properly ever will.
Link to official case record: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/indiana-manufacturer-pleads-guilty-clean-air-act-false-statement-violations
Why dust collectors and all environmental technology are important to our economy
By Dominick DalSanto
Dust Collector Technology Expert and Sales Director
This month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued for the first time ever rules regulating carbon emissions for power plants. These new regulations have brought controversy, with many claiming that regulating carbon emissions in not only unnecessary, but will terrifically affect the US economy for the worse. Other claim that the effect will be more than offset by the benefits of reducing the pace of climate change, which they hold is primarily caused by greenhouse emissions.
It is not our point to delve into the issues involved in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, or even climate change in general. However, it has spurred yet another fierce debate about pollution laws and regulations, air pollution control technologies and their economic effects on the nation. It leads one to thinking about industrial dust collection and what it costs the country’s economy. Do environmental rules protect or hurt the economy?
While there are many facets to this debate, we wanted to look at just one area today; how much revenue the does the dust collection industry directly cost or add to the US economy each year?
Dust Collector Systems, and Other PM Control Systems Add Billions to Economy Each Year
While politicians debate over increased regulation, there really should be no debate about whether the environmental technology industry is a valuable contributor to the country’s economy. The facts show that, regardless of the political rhetoric on both sides, the sector contributes a great deal to U.S. economic growth.
Today, the global environmental technologies market (including dust collection), which is broad and encompasses products and services for air, water, and soil pollution control, is around $800 billion. The U.S. is the largest supplier and consumer of this equipment and services in the world. Approximately 119,000 firms generate $300 billion in revenues supporting close to 1.7 million jobs. (1)
Trade Surplus From Environmental Exports
The U.S. exported pollution controls worth nearly $40 billion and generated a trade surplus of nearly $13 billion in 2007. In terms of exports as a percentage of total U.S. ET production, the leading sub-sectors are: resource recovery (58 percent); instruments and information systems (46 percent); water equipment and chemicals (36 percent); waste management equipment (25 percent); and air pollution control (16 percent). (Figure 1)
The air pollution control equipment sub-sector, not including engineering and consulting, generates revenues of more than $18 billion each year. A further breakdown of the numbers shows that dust collection equipment exports — dust collector systems, dust collector filters, baghouses, etc. — in 2008 added up to more than $300 million. Adding in engineering and consulting services pushes that number over $1 billion. With an economy that is feeling the pressures of excessive foreign debt, trade imbalances, and lackluster growth, this sector of the U.S. economy certainly is carrying its own weight.
The Outlook: Advantages and Challenges Lie Ahead
As the situation stands now, the U.S. ET sector, including dust collection technology, holds some distinct advantages over foreign competitors. However, that advantage has been slipping away, little by little, and assuring future growth will prove to be a challenge.
While the United States market remains the largest single ET market, it’s also the most mature. Foreign markets, particularly those in developing countries, continue to grow at a higher rate, offering the most opportunity for U.S. companies.
According to a report by the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries’ Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee, which is made up of governmental agencies responsible for fostering growth of U.S. exports, there are several notable barriers to increasing U.S. trade in this area. They include lengthy and/or nontransparent approval processes, incompatible standards, and legal and regulatory framework issues. Nonetheless, the report also states that the U.S. is well-positioned to compete on the international scene due to factors such as market share, workforce experience, and a highly advanced development process that leads to innovation.
The U.S. share of foreign ET markets went from 5.7 percent in 1997 to 9.8 percent in 2007, giving the industry a positive trade surplus. Although the rate of growth slowed, it has been returning steadily, influenced, in part, by the booming global demand for renewable energy technology.
Another large driver of the growth in developing markets has been the increased number of governmental pollution regulations. While in other industries environmental laws and regulations are seen as a source of extra cost and burden, the opposite is true for the ET sector. Complying with these regulations requires investment in products and services that help prevent, remediate, and alleviate environmental degradation. The ET industry supplies those goods and services.
Less-Obvious Financial Benefits
A clean and healthy environment (specifically clean air) has a host of benefits to people that directly affect them economically. Preventing environmental degradation prevents pollution-related health problems and premature death, and improves the health and productivity of the U.S. work force.
While it can be difficult to quantify in monetary terms the effect of keeping people healthy and giving them better lives, several studies do exist that show that even in these terms environmental control regulations, specifically particle pollution control (e.g. dust collectors) have had a massive impact. A 2011 EPA peer-reviewed study concluded that the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments have yielded direct benefits that tremendously exceed their costs. The study’s central benefits estimate in 2020 exceeds costs by a factor of more than 30-to-1, and the high benefits estimate exceeds costs by 90-to-1. (2)
The Path to Growth?
Now more than ever, to get back on the path to recovery, this economy needs to do what it has always done best — innovate and lead. Few sectors of the economy are better suited to do this than the ET industry. With new laws and regulations making environmental compliance tougher, U.S. firms are — out of necessity — finding, developing, and creating new ways to continue expanding while reducing environmental impacts. This experience has provided U.S. companies with the opportunity to get an edge over the competition, and they must take advantage.
The size of the world market for environmental goods and services – $782 billion – is comparable to the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries and presents important opportunities for U.S. industry. In 2008, the United States’ environmental technologies and services industry supported 1.7 million jobs. The industry generated approximately $300 billion in revenues and exported goods and services worth $44 billion – larger than exports of sectors such as plastics and rubber products. Air pollution control equipment alone generated revenues of $18 billion in 2008, including exports of approximately $3 billion.
Without a doubt, over-regulation and governmental bureaucracy can stifle economic growth. However, the ET industry, rather than being part of this systemic problem, is, in reality, part of the solution. This industry is a highly adaptive, com- petitive, and useful one that has proven its worth by creating mil- lions of jobs and billions in profits and trade surpluses. If every sector of the economy had similar characteristics, it would be back on the path to growth.
| Dominick DalSanto is an author & dust collector technology expert, specializing in baghouse systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as sales director at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.
1. Environmental Business International, San Diego, CA. U.S. Environmental Exports By Sector 2008 ($ billion)
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