Using an electrostatic precipitator to improve air quality in cage-free houses

Researchers seek to develop, evaluate recirculating ESP for its ability to improve indoor air quality.

December 4, 2023

1 Min Read
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Compared with cage systems, cage-free egg layer systems improve bird welfare. However, greater bird activity in cage-free layer houses (CFLH) can degrade indoor air quality, possibly affecting performance and welfare of both the birds as well as the workers. USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation recently announced the completion of a funded research project by researchers at North Carolina State University that assessed using an electrostatic precipitator to improve indoor air quality in cage-free layer houses.

The overall objective of this project was to develop and evaluate a recirculating ESP for its ability to improve indoor air quality in a CFLH with litter floors. Specific objectives were to:

  • design and fabricate a full-scale recirculating ESP unit;

  • evaluate the removal efficiency of the ESP in the cage-free layer house for particulate matter, ammonia, and airborne bacteria and fungi, and;

  • evaluate the impact of the ESP on barn indoor air quality for particulate matter.

The central hypothesis of this research was that a recirculating ESP could reduce dust concentrations and thermal stratification in winter when ventilation rates are low and dust concentrations are higher.

Dr. Sanjay Shah and colleagues with North Carolina State University found that timer operated minimum ventilation fans lead to very high dust concentrations in CFLHs and should be replaced with variable speed fans. The researchers suggest further dust mitigation methods should be considered and that a redesign of the ESP proposed in the research could lead to much improved dust and airborne bacteria removal.

The full research summary can be found on the USPOULTRY website.

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