What are Cyclone Separators? And how do Cyclones operate?
A cyclone or cyclone separator is a conical shaped device, which is used to remove and separate particulates from air, liquid and gas. This is achieved by using a high speed rotating airflow- a method which is commonly referred to as vortex separation. Here, the pattern of airflow can be likened to that of a helix or tornado, where the airflow begins at a wider top and ends at a narrow bottom.
When air, liquid or gas is fed into a cyclone chamber, lighter particulates which weigh less than the air molecules themselves, are easily manipulated and thus carried along with the rotating airflow. However, heavier particulates, which are much denser, are said to have too much inertia and are therefore unable to follow the tight curves of the airstream.
As a result, the path of heavier particulates remains uninfluenced by the high speed of the rotating airflow and they instead continue to travel in a straight line. This causes them to collide with the outer walls of the cyclone chamber, breaking their path and resulting in them falling to the bottom of the chamber, where they are then collected for removal.
- Static Cyclones: Static cyclones don’t have any moving parts, which makes them inexpensive and relatively easy to operate. However, this means that they can only be adjusted by mechanical modifications and their operating efficiency is particularly low for separating small particles.
- Dynamic Cyclones: Unlike static cyclones, dynamic cyclones operate by a rotating impeller, used to increase the flow of air liquid or gas. This provides dynamic cyclones with the flexibility to produce large flow rates, increasing the impeller rotor speed, with a much higher efficiency of separation than conventional separators.
So, how do cyclones separate lighter particulates from liquid, air and gas? Due to their conical shape, as the airstream gets further towards the bottom of the cyclone and its torado-like curves get tighter, it becomes harder for even small and fine particles to follow the tight curves of its airstream.