Effects of Spray Surfactant and Particle Charge on Respirable Coal Dust Capture

Mei W. Tessum, Peter C. Raynor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Surfactant-containing water sprays are commonly used in coal mines to collect dust. This study investigates the dust collection performance of different surfactant types for a range of coal dust particle sizes and charges. Methods Bituminous coal dust aerosol was generated in a wind tunnel. The charge of the aerosol was either left unaltered, charge-neutralized with a neutralizer, or positively- or negatively-charged using a diffusion charger after the particles were neutralized. An anionic, cationic, or nonionic surfactant spray or a plain water spray was used to remove the particles from the air flow. Some particles were captured while passing through spray section, whereas remaining particles were charge-separated using an electrostatic classifier. Particle size and concentration of the charge-separated particles were measured using an aerodynamic particle sizer. Measurements were made with the spray on and off to calculate overall collection efficiencies (integrated across all charge levels) and efficiencies of particles with specific charge levels. Results The diameter of the tested coal dust aerosol was 0.89 μm ± 1.45 [geometric mean ± geometric standard deviations (SD)]. Respirable particle mass was collected with 75.5 ± 5.9% (mean ± SD) efficiency overall. Collection efficiency was correlated with particle size. Surfactant type significantly impacted collection efficiency: charged particle collection by nonionic surfactant sprays was greater than or equal to collection by other sprays, especially for weakly-charged aerosols. Particle charge strength was significantly correlated with collection efficiency. Conclusion Surfactant type affects charged particle spray collection efficiency. Nonionic surfactant sprays performed well in coal dust capture in many of the tested conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-305
Number of pages10
JournalSafety and Health at Work
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • efficiency
  • electric charges
  • respirable coal dust
  • spray
  • surfactant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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