Air quality in the broiler house can impact the health of the birds and growers. Electrostatic space charge systems (ESCS) can remove dust particles from air in a confined space. ESCS has been shown to be effective at removing dust and attached ammonia under laboratory situations. Dr. Casey Ritz reported at the National Poultry Waste Management Symposium on a field study conducted at the University of Georgia to determine whether a practical ESCS can be developed and operated in a commercial broiler production house to improve in-house air quality. Improving air quality would improve bird health, working conditions for growers, and reduce emissions dust and ammonia from the broiler house.


An ESCS transfers a strong negative electrostatic charge to airborne dust particles within an enclosed space, and the negatively charged dust particles will then drop out of the air as they are attracted to grounded surfaces. Ammonia attached to the dust should also precipitate out of the air. A custom-made ESCS was designed and installed in a 500 ft x 40 ft tunnel ventilated commercial broiler house with drop ceiling. The ESCS consisted of four rows of in-line, negative air ionization units; with two 200 ft rows on each side of the house in the brood end and two 200 ft rows in the growout end. The ESCS was positioned 7 feet above the litter, high enough to walk under, but as low as possible to concentrate the charge near the birds where dust is being generated. A broiler house adjacent and essentially identical to the house with the ESCS was instrumented for airborne dust and ammonia monitoring but operated as the control house without ionization.

Over seven flocks the ESCS reduced overall airborne dust by 43 percent in the TH. Aerial dust concentrations within both of the broiler houses were low. Ritz said that charged dust could often be seen extending from the grounded water and feeder support cables in the treatment house. Ammonia levels in the study houses ranged from an average of 11 ppm to 54 ppm with concentrations reduced by 13 percent with the ESCS.

Ritz said that dust collection on the ESCS and the subsequent need for cleaning was not a major issue. Brushing the dust from the equipment every seven to 10 days was sufficient to maintain desired high charge levels from each unit. The cost of materials and installation of the experimental ESCS unit was approximately $4,000, and power consumption of the entire system was less than 100 watts during operation. Ritz said that commercial application of ESCS within the production house has the potential to improve in-house air quality and reduce particulate emissions.