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Home / Blog / Ethylene Oxide Scrubbers: Formation, Harm, Wet Scrubbers for EO, and Effectiveness

Ethylene Oxide Scrubbers: Formation, Harm, Wet Scrubbers for EO, and Effectiveness

Author: Michael Klepik, Chief Executive Officer
Ethylene oxide (EO) is a colorless, flammable gas with the chemical formula C₂H₄O. It is a key industrial chemical used primarily as an intermediate in the production of ethylene glycol, which is a component of antifreeze and polyester.

The molecular structure of ethylene oxide is of particular significance as it determines its properties. Thanks to it, the gas exhibits high solubility in liquid hydrocarbons and the ability to undergo rapid polymerization at elevated temperatures.

Formation and Application

Thus, at present, nearly all ethylene oxide is manufactured using a single process: the gas-phase oxidation of ethylene with oxygen over a silver-containing fixed-bed catalyst at temperatures of 428-572°F and pressures of 116-435 psi. Elemental silver coated on granular aluminum oxide serves as the catalyst for the ethylene oxide formation reaction.

Ethylene oxide is used in various industrial applications. It is essential in the production of ethylene glycol and is widely employed in the sterilization of medical equipment and supplies. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in the production of detergents and surfactants. Ethylene oxide is also used in the agriculture and textile industries, and it serves as a fumigant in agricultural practices.

It is commonly found in chemical manufacturing plants, pharmaceutical production, and facilities producing sterilized medical equipment. It is used in the production of polyethylene glycols, polyethylene oxide and copolymers with propylene oxide, polyethylene terephthalate, surfactants, ethanolamines, oil demulsifiers, and fumigants.

It is an important raw material with a wide range of applications in chemical technology.


Ethylene oxide is extremely flammable, and its mixtures with air are highly explosive. When heated, it can expand, causing fire and explosion. The substance is toxic when inhaled and can cause acute poisoning if ingested. It is a substance with irritating, narcotic, and highly toxic properties. As a gas, it easily penetrates through clothing and footwear, causing a severe allergic reaction, and when it comes into contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, it can cause burns.

It is harmful to humans if inhaled in significant amounts. It can cause:
  • Respiratory irritation and lung damage.
  • Headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
  • Long-term exposure increases the risk of cancer, particularly leukemia and lymphoma.
  • Reproductive effects and genetic mutations.
Proper air purification and ventilation are crucial in workplaces to minimize these health risks.


The design of scrubbers will depend on their type. However, in any case, the construction includes the following elements:
  • The scrubber body or column apparatus where dust capture occurs;
  • Inlet pipe;
  • Liquid supply pipeline;
  • Outlet pipe;
  • Storage tank for water recirculation;
  • Nozzle for sludge removal.
The principle of operation of the scrubber is based on the mass transfer process in the gas-liquid contact. Water (solution) abundantly irrigates the gas-air mixture. The liquid is supplied through a chemical pump. After passing through the pipeline and nozzles, the water moistens the gas in the body and thoroughly washes out solid particles and dissolves the gases and aerosols present. The dirty water with dust particles moves to the settling tank, and from there to the cleaning device.

Our ethylene oxide scrubber design ensures maximum removal efficiency, adaptability to various industrial conditions, and compliance with stringent environmental regulations.
Tornado ST | Spray Tower Scrubber

Torch-Air Wet Scrubbers for EO

We have developed scrubbers specifically for the chemical industry. The filtration equipment is successfully used in production and achieves high purification rates. The series of installations include Boreas, Tornado, Venturi, and Typhoon.

Wet scrubbers, or wet dust collectors, are used in enterprises to purify air from organic compounds and odors. The purification efficiency reaches 99.9%.

The water that enters the device housing wets the dust particles, causing them to settle to the bottom under the force of gravity. The used (dirty) water is drained into a receiving tank, from where it is then fed into special equipment for further purification.

The main advantages of scrubbers are simplicity of design, efficiency, and reliability.

Materials for manufacturing ethylene oxide scrubber: stainless steel, PVDF, RP, PP, PTFE. Depending on the operating conditions and composition of the contaminated gas, we select the best materials. The design and type of scrubber are also selected considering the pollutants present in the gas composition.

Horizontal scrubbers are also widely popular. They provide high-quality filtration from most types of acids and alkalis, poisonous gases, and impurities. Additionally, these units require minimal maintenance and occupy little space.
The ethylene oxide scrubber cost varies depending on factors such as size, materials, and additional features.

Effectiveness of Wet Scrubbers for Ethylene Oxide Removal

Wet scrubbers are highly effective in removing ethylene oxide from industrial exhaust streams due to the following reasons:
  1. High Removal Efficiency: Wet ethylene oxide vent scrubber can achieve high removal efficiencies (often over 95%) for C₂H₄O, making them suitable for meeting stringent regulatory standards.
  2. Versatility: They can handle a wide range of gas flow rates and EO concentrations, making them adaptable to different industrial processes.
  3. Chemical Neutralization: Scrubbing liquids can be specifically formulated to neutralize EO, often using acidic or alkaline solutions to convert EO into harmless compounds.
  4. Cooling and Humidification: The scrubbing process can also cool and humidify the gas stream, which is beneficial in some industrial applications.
  5. Ease of Maintenance: Wet scrubbers are relatively simple to maintain and can be equipped with automated systems for pH control and liquid recirculation.
Torch-Air Wet Scrubber
Torch-Air Wet Scrubber

Other Equipment for Purification

For air purification from C₂H₄O in industrial settings, the following equipment is suitable:
  • Activated Carbon Adsorption Systems: Effective for absorbing EO from the air.
  • Catalytic Oxidizers: Use catalysts to convert EO into less harmful substances like carbon dioxide and water.
  • Thermal Oxidizers: Burn C₂H₄O at high temperatures, converting it into safe combustion products.
These systems ensure effective air purification and reduce C₂H₄O concentrations to safe levels.

The ethylene oxide water scrubber effectively removes EO emissions from industrial exhaust streams. By using a wet scrubber, your company can effectively control ethylene oxide emissions, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and protecting the health of workers and surrounding communities.
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We always make extremely precise calculations and provide assistance in choosing the optimal cleaning systems, which usually takes 1 to 2 days.
Head of Engineering,
Vladimir Nikulin
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