The most common and debilitating damage that occurs in a precipitator is the warping of delicate collector plates, often by fire. This reduces the distance between plates and discharge electrodes. Those dimensions are of the utmost importance. Electrodes typically carry upwards of 40,000 volts. They are ungrounded except through the gas stream itself.
The resulting “electron wind” drives ash onto the plates. When a plate warps, the precipitator must be operated at lower voltages. That increases stack emissions. The severity of damage shown in the diagrams is not unusual, but even slight distortion reduces efficiency. In an attempt to correct the problem, it is common to crimp plates or heat them with a torch. These methods often cause further distortion. The Modular Ladder Bar and other spacers are proven to effectively repair major damage during a routine maintenance outage while stabilizing plates against heat excursions for years of operation. One precipitator was newly erected with Movable Spacers as a part of the original installation. The fact that eludes many experts is that the solution for an electrostatic device is mechanical one. The issue is addressed in an ASME paper available on this site. Patented spacer designs can be viewed on the links at the side bar.