What Is Air Stripping?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Air stripping is a process where volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are removed from water with the use of forced air. The purification rate can be very high with a well designed system, leaving mostly clean water behind and trapping the compounds in a pollution control system. There are a number of ways companies can use air stripping, ranging from industrial processes to environmental cleanup. Manufacturers of stripping systems produce an assortment of products and accessories.

Air stripping is just one type of filtration system factories can use to reduce air pollution.
Air stripping is just one type of filtration system factories can use to reduce air pollution.

The classic way to perform air stripping is in a tower. Nozzles jet a mist of water at the top of the tower. As water droplets fall, air pushes up from below, moving through the water and picking up VOCs. The water settles to the bottom, mostly stripped of the contaminants, and the VOCs can be trapped in a stack at the top of the tower. It is also possible to release them directly, but this may not be advisable or legal, because they could pollute the environment.

Compounds like acetone and benzene can be removed with air stripping. One way to use this process is in the cleaning and recycling of components used in a facility. The mostly clean water can be reused for new processes, and the recovered VOCs can also be used again. This can cut down on production costs and pollutants by recycling materials as much as possible. While the initial air stripping plant may be expensive to install, the company could determine that it will pay for itself in the long term.

This can also be used in water purification and pollution cleanup, including responses to events like oil spills. If air stripping is an option, it may be possible to build a temporary facility or transport water for scrubbing as part of a pollution cleanup effort. The stripped water can also be passed through filters and other purification stages to make it as clean as possible, removing particulates and other undesirable compounds before it is released.

An air stripping system works best when it is properly operated and maintained. The tower may need periodic cleaning, and nozzles can become clogged. Pollution control systems need to be maintained in good working order to prevent issues like loss of air flow due to filter clogs. In some cases, the tower may be subject to inspection by regulatory authorities, who will determine if it meets pollution standards or poses a risk to health and safety.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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