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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2016;13(2):141-7. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2015.1091960.

Determination of pressure drop across activated carbon fiber respirator cartridges.

Author information

1
a Environmental Health Sciences Program, Department of Health Education and Promotion, East Carolina University , Greenville , North Carolina.
2
b Department of Environmental Health Sciences , University of Alabama at Birmingham , Birmingham , Alabama.

Abstract

Activated carbon fiber (ACF) is considered as an alternative adsorbent to granular activated carbon (GAC) for the development of thinner, lighter, and efficient respirators because of their larger surface area and adsorption capacities, thinner critical bed depth, lighter weight, and fabric form. This study aims to measure the pressure drop across different types of commercially available ACFs in respirator cartridges to determine the ACF composition and density that will result in acceptably breathable respirators. Seven ACF types in cloth (ACFC) and felt (ACFF) forms were tested. ACFs in cartridges were challenged with pre-conditioned constant air flow (43 LPM, 23°C, 50% RH) at different compositions (single- or combination-ACF type) in a test chamber. Pressure drop across ACF cartridges were obtained using a micromanometer, and compared among different cartridge configurations, to those of the GAC cartridge, and to the NIOSH breathing resistance requirements for respirator cartridges. Single-ACF type cartridges filled with any ACFF had pressure drop measurements (23.71-39.93 mmH2O) within the NIOSH inhalation resistance requirement of 40 mmH2O, while those of the ACFC cartridges (85.47±3.67 mmH2O) exceeded twice the limit due possibly to the denser weaving of ACFC fibers. All single ACFF-type cartridges had higher pressure drop compared to the GAC cartridge (23.13±1.14 mmH2O). Certain ACF combinations (2 ACFF or ACFC/ACFF types) resulted to pressure drop (26.39-32.81 mmH2O) below the NIOSH limit. All single-ACFF type and all combination-ACF type cartridges with acceptable pressure drop had much lower adsorbent weights than GAC (≤15.2% of GAC weight), showing potential for light-weight respirator cartridges. 100% ACFC in cartridges may result to respirators with high breathing resistance and, thus, is not recommended. The more dense ACFF and ACFC types may still be possibly used in respirators by combining them with less dense ACFF materials and/or by reducing cartridge bed depth to reduce pressure drop to acceptable levels. ACFF by itself may be more appropriate as adsorbent materials in ACF respirator cartridges in terms of acceptable breathing resistance.

KEYWORDS:

Activated carbon fiber; breathing resistance; cartridges; pressure drop; respirator

PMID:
26513199
DOI:
10.1080/15459624.2015.1091960
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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