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Electrostatic separation


Key words electrostatic, separation, powder, charging, di-electric separation, flour, starch, protein, dry
Latest version 2010/12/20
Completed by Wageningen UR - FBR

How does it work?

Primary objective Separation of dry food powders into two or more dry fractions.
Working principle Electrostatic separation is based on differences in chargeability of components in food powders combined with differences in density and size.

Particles being charged are brought into an electric field that attracts positive particles to one and negative particles to the other electrode.

ES Process Schematic.jpg

Additional effects By charging particle the surplus or deficit of electrons might have an effect on the functionality of the component.
Important process parameters electric field
Important product parameters chargeability, particle size, density

What can it be used for?

Products Dry food powders
Operations Isolation, concentration, separation
Solutions for short comings Electrostatic separation offers a solution for materials containing particles that can’t be separated by traditional separation techniques because of:
  • similar aerodynamic properties/behaviour
  • loss of functionality during traditional separation

What can it NOT be used for?

Products Non-powder materials and wet or fatty powders.
Operations -
Other limitations -
Risks or hazards The particle cloud combined with air (oxygen) and an ignition source (spark from electrical discharge) can cause a dust explosion.


Maturity Electrostatic separation for food application is only available on lab scale yet. However, in other industries (mining and recycling industry) electrostatic separation is implemented on larger scales. This indicates that scale-up problems are not expected.
Modularity /Implementation Electrostatic separation can be inserted in existing production lines.
Consumer aspects Not available.
Legal aspects Not available, unknown.
Environmental aspects Electrostatic separation can save a lot of drying energy.

Further Information

Institutes Wageningen UR - FBR, INRA
References 1. Sumawi, H; Barringer, S.A., Positive vs. negative electrostatic coating using food powders, J. o. Electrostatics (2005), Vol 63, Issue 6-10, Page 815-821

2. Mayr, M.B.; Barringer, S.A., Corona Compared with Triboelectric Charging for Electrostatic Powder Coating, J. o. Food Science (2006), Vol 71, Issue 4, Page E171-E177

3. Ricks, N.P., Food Powder Characteristics Important to Nonelectrostatic and Electrostatic Coating and Dustiness, J. o, Food Science (2002), Vol 67, Nr. 6, page 2256-2263

4. Adamiak, K., Numerical Modelling of Tribo-Charge Powder Coating Systems, Journal of Electrostatics 40&41 (1997), 395-400

5. Bailey, A.G., Charging of Solids and Powders, Journal of Electrostatics (1993), 30 167-180

6. Matsusaka, S, Control of electrostatic charge on particles by impact charging, Advanced Powder Technol. (2007), Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 229–244

7. Hemery, Y; Rouau, X; Dragan, C, et al., Electrostatic properties of wheat bran and its constitutive layers: Influence of particle size, composition, and moisture content, J. o Food ecngineering (2009), Vol 93 (1), p. 114-124

electric field chargeability, particle size, density Air classifiers 2.2.1 physical separation biotechnology Web of Science: electrostatic, separation, charging, food (2)
Web of Science: electrostatic, charging, food (9) WikiSysop :Template:Review document :Template:Review status

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Created by Hamoen on 17 January 2012, at 12:10