Control of PM Emission at Poultry Facilities


The animal production industry contributes significantly to the U.S. economy and global food production. However, particulate matter (PM, also often called “dust”) from animal facilities has caused significant environmental quality and health concerns, and adversely affects the viability and sustainability of the animal production process. Dust emissions from animal facilities carry toxic gases, nuisance odors, and pathogenic bacteria and viruses, thereby affecting the health of animals and workers, the safety of food products, and the environmental quality of neighboring communities. A severe avian influenza outbreak in 2015 in the US killed more than 50 million poultry animals and scientists believe PM emissions contributed to the spread of disease. Increased public concerns and regulations for fine PM (PM2.5, diameter < 2.5 µm) also create challenges for the continued viability and growth of the animal production industry. It is imperative to develop both effective and economically feasible technologies to mitigate PM emissions from animal production facilities.


The ultimate goal of this study is to develop effective and economically feasible electrostatic precipitators and electrostatic scrubbers optimized for PM mitigation in commercial poultry production facilities. The specific objectives are to:

  • Characterize airborne PM in Midwestern manure-belt layer facilities in terms of the characteristics most relevant to electrostatic PM mitigation, including concentration, emission rate, size distribution, density, dielectric constant, and their spatial, diurnal/temporal, and seasonal variations;
  • Develop a comprehensive COMSOL model of a wire-plate ESP that accurately simulates the poultry PM collection process using electrostatic precipitation;
  • Evaluate and further optimize the design and performance of the ESP and ESS prototypes for poultry PM mitigation; and
  • Test the ESP and ESS prototypes in a commercial manure-belt layer facility for PM removal efficiency, energy consumption, and economic feasibility.

Approaches and Outcomes:

An experienced multi-state and multi-disciplinary team with uniquely expertise are addressing the challenging dust emission problems. We have developed two innovative electrostatic PM control systems that demonstrated promises of high PM collection efficiency, low air resistance, capacities in disinfection of airborne pathogens, and relatively low cost. Specifically, we have conducted (1) field measurement to characterize key PM parameters and airflow conditions in typical poultry houses that affect electrostatic PM mitigation; (2) developed and optimized ESP (Electrostatic Precipitators) dust control modules; and (3) developed and tested full-scale prototypes of ESPs and Electrostatic Scrubbers (ESSs) in labs.  We are testing the ESP and ESS devices in a poultry farm to evaluate their performances and economic feasibilities for PM control technologies at commercial poultry facilities. The following figure shows a prototype ESP installed in a commercial layer house for field performance tests.

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The Expected Impacts The study has contributed to:

(1) understand the PM characteristics in manure-belt layer facilities relevant to electrostatic precipitation-based mitigation; (2) simulate the PM collection process to assess its effectiveness and model a wire-plate ESP design; and (3) enable the poultry industry to effectively mitigate PM emissions with optimized ESP and optimized ESS technologies. The ultimate long-term impacts that we want to achieve are wide applications of effective PM control technologies for improved health, reduced outbreaks of foodborne diseases, reduced losses due to outbreak of infectious disease in poultry production, enhanced environmental quality, and sustainable animal production.

Relevant publications can be found here:

  • Spatial and Seasonal Variations of PM Concentration and Size Distribution in Manure-Belt Poultry Layer Houses. Link

If you have any question or comment, please contact Dr. Lingying Zhao at Your feedback is much appreciated!