If I have a fine metal mesh -- say a stainless steel mesh at 50 micron, and I'm having dust build up on it, can I use static electricity to remove the dust? I have another mesh that's 500 micron, and much easier to clean next to it. My dust passes first through the coarse mesh, and then the fine mesh.

My idea is that while the filter is that when I wanted to remove static electricity from the fine metal mesh, I could give it a strong (HVDC) negative charge, and the 500 micron mesh a strong positive charge. The dust particles would subsequently become charged and leave. -- There is air traveling between two meshes.

My question is -- how can I calculate how far apart them meshes can be, and what kind of power I need?

  • \$\begingroup\$ As to power: You hardly need any power at all. It is static electricity. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oldfart
    Apr 25, 2018 at 9:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ The distance will depend on the voltage. The needed current depends (to a large extent) on the area of the meshes. The product of the two is how much power you need. Large meshes far apart will take more power than small meshes close together. \$\endgroup\$
    – JRE
    Apr 25, 2018 at 10:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, more dust= more current= more power. \$\endgroup\$
    – JRE
    Apr 25, 2018 at 10:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, that's actually how dust masks usually work, they have a charged layer that attracts most microscopic dust particles and trap them so they don't go to your lungs. Also, some floor wiping pads also use static charge to pick up dust from the floor. There isn't really a way to calculate it, and you're probably going to have to resort to trial and error. \$\endgroup\$
    – hatsunearu
    Apr 25, 2018 at 10:38

1 Answer 1


Calculation of what you will require will involve, as one of my fellow members has commented, trial and error to achieve, but it is certainly possible to achieve something along the lines of what you hope, though I recommend it as a continual process rather than a periodic one.

First I would recommend calculating the surface area of your respective meshes, that way you will have an indication of charge density of the mesh. I would do this because that will allow you to find a suitable value and have a point of comparison when varying different parameters - i.e. applied voltage and / or distance between meshes.

I gather from your description that your two meshes are aimed at preventing dust from passing through the finer mesh. Personally I would suggest that rather than allowing dust to deposit on this mesh, and then periodically attempting to purge it with a HVDC application, that you instead charged both plates with opposing polarities as a continual process, thereby attracting dust to the coarse mesh (easier to clean), and repelling it from the finer mesh. This should in fact reduce the quantity of dust passing through the fine mesh. Letting deposit build on the fine mesh may present issues in addition to airflow, including greater quantity of particulate passing through the fine mesh, as well as an inability to purge the deposit once it has been deposited due to adhesion and the cancelling of charge when it is deposited. A static field applied to the inner or both meshes (even better) would be more effective.

Additionally, by using a polymer mesh pre-filter (or other suitable material). Through friction, the dust particles that come into contact with the pre-filter should possess greater charge and similarly, any un-charged particles that contact the pre-filer should also become charged - which should increase the effectiveness of your setup, whatever it may be for.

This is actually a rather big issue for sensors in space (an area I used to work in), and among other publications, and although it is aimed at clearing a flat area rather than a filter, this one from NASA may be useful to you: NASA Paper

There also exist a number of patents for multi-layer options, one of which appears to include my suggestion for a polymer pre-filter: US5336299

All the best.


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