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How hydraulics is helping improve air quality ben lee

The street sweeper is a ubiquitous sight in cities across the country; once the preserve of Trigger et al, the humble broom was replaced by the compact mechanical sweeper which removes debris and dust from the streets using air, water and rotating brushes.  Low pressure water jets spray ahead of the brushes to damp down the dust, thereby stopping it from rising into the air too much.  The rotating brushes pick up the debris and it is collected into a hopper for emptying later on.  Although harder to fix than a broom, which may only require a new head or a new handle, they are much more efficient at quickly cleaning streets and come into their own after events such as the Notting Hill Carnival or London Marathon.

 

The machines we see on the streets are designed specifically for the purpose of street cleaning, but there are also other locations where sweepers are used, such as on construction sites, at mines and even at waste processing and recycling facilities.  At these locations, the sweeper normally takes the form of an attachment that can be fixed to a front-end loader or other hydraulic machine.  This is done for cost and efficiency reasons, as it removes the need for a separate vehicle and allows an existing one to be used in a different way.  These attachments use the auxiliary hydraulics of the machine to which they are fixed to provide power for the brushes, water sprayers and positioning system of the attachment.  They too have used low pressure water jets up until now, but the drawback is that the reach of these jets is small, and because the water is concentrated on a relatively small area, it can end up creating a muddy paste which is then smeared on the surface rather than being cleaned up, and the dusty particles that do not get watered are then kicked up into the air to settle elsewhere.

 

Dynaset Oy have found a solution to this problem by using the hydraulics in sweeping attachments to power a hydraulically operated water intensifier.  This addition pressurises the water creating a fine mist that contacts more of the dusty dirt without forming a paste.  The system also uses far less water than a conventional sweeper attachment, so is better for the environment in that sense as well.  The HPW Dust component can be fitted to any hydraulically powered machine that uses water, so can be used for pressure washing and other purposes that require high pressured water.  It uses the power of the hydraulics to create the high pressure and does not need any additional power or electronics to work.

 

The resulting cleaning is much more effective; the water is still sprayed ahead of the brushes but damps down the dust more effectively, so the brushes can clean properly without sending that dust up into the air.  The air quality post sweeping is visibly cleaner and this is important in routinely dusty environment such as mines and construction or demolition sites, especially if these are located in built up areas, where there is already an environmental concern over air quality.

 

This technology is not being used in city street sweepers yet, but it could make a very real difference to the air quality in urban areas if deployed in these machines.  There is some development to do in order to make the water intensifier technology work in modern street sweepers as they are not hydraulically powered, but when designing new models hydraulic power could be an option to operate not only the high-pressure water delivery, but the brushes and collection method as well.

 

The reduction in the amount of water used, coupled with the superior cleaning could be incredibly useful in developing countries or very hot climates where water is at a premium.  The applications of this hydraulically operated water intensifying system are numerous and will become apparent as the technology is deployed in other hydraulic machinery, or integrated into new designs of current machinery.  Perhaps the most obvious application for this invention is the automatic car wash, which already uses hydraulic power to move and direct the water spraying components.  If the amount of water needed could be reduced significantly by pressurising it with the HPW Dust it could make a huge difference to global water consumption.




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