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When Is Water Not Wet? Dust Suppression Without Wetting...

Published by Giles Bennett
Giles Bennett
on Thursday 8 June 2017

Last updated on Friday 12 April 2024
When Is Water Not Wet? Dust Suppression Without Wetting...
It’s one of the fundamental laws of science.  Water 'wets', as fire creates 'heat', and rock is 'hard'.

However, sometimes in the world of dust suppression it seems that the impossible is required. How do you suppress fine airborne dust with water mist, without causing wetting - or even mere dampening - of the product, process equipment, personnel or floors?

Undoubtedly, it’s a hard ask. This is why it makes sense to consider other control measures.  These could include:

  • Modification to processes to reduce the duration or frequency of emissions
  • Introducing physical barriers (e.g. conveyor covers)
  • Installation of an LEV (Local Exhaust Ventilation) system.

But there are some situations where suppression is simply the ‘Best Available Technique’ - often because the dust source is too general or varied in nature. Or where a ‘last line of defence’ is required to complement other existing control measures.

What’s the secret?

So in moisture-sensitive situations, how can ‘wetting’ be prevented? Is there such a thing as dust suppression without wetting?

Targeted suppression without wetting and at close quarters can only truly be achieved with air-atomising technology.


That’s where a clean, dry compressed air feed shatter water droplets to a microscopic level such as is not achievable with any other conventional high-pressure or fan-assisted water misting technologies.

Here’s the evidence

Only recently, an international company extracting and processing speciality mineral products for industry needed just this.  The brief was to significantly reduce dust levels in one of their facilities where they handle and store 'bone dry' china clay.  The critical factor here was that they could not risk increasing moisture levels in their product without risking product quality and its market value.

Understandably they took some convincing to trial the technology but finally agreed to, and following the system installation and optimisation, the client arranged for some independent dust monitoring tests.  At the same time they continued to monitor their product moisture content.

The official test data shared by the client (below) prompted them to proceed with the full, permanent installation.  Airborne dust levels in one area were halved and in another area reduced by two thirds.  And just as importantly for the client, they could not discern any increase in their product moisture content!


Reduction of airborne dust

Test Position A


Test Position B


Given the challenging application this certainly is a very good outcome.

So, when is water not wet?

Even if you think your dust suppression application is too challenging for water...remember that with air-atomising technology water does not have to wet!

Learn About Powder Dry Dust Suppression