Dust Accumulation on Fan Blades and Elsewhere

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In summary, cooling fans and the objects they cool often become choked with dust due to the accumulation of fine dust on surfaces exposed to moving air. The two possible reasons for this are that the boundary layer of air attached to the surface does not move, allowing dust to easily collect, or that static charge on the surfaces holds the dust. However, the second reason seems unlikely as dust can collect on grounded heat sinks in computers. The most plausible reason is that the boundary layer of air does not move. Some other factors that may contribute to dust accumulation include van der Waals interactions, ion charge, and the composition of the dust. To prevent dust buildup, options include filtering the air or using an enclosure cooler. Additionally, the shape of the object
  • #1
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Any cooling fan, as well as any objects that it cools, will invariably become choked with fine dust after a time. But this seems quite surprising considering that all the dust is being accumulated on surfaces that are exposed to large currents of moving air.

I've learned of two possible reasons:

1) The boundary layer of air attached to the surface does not move and all dust can easily collect there.
2) Static charge on the surfaces will hold dust.

Reason #2 does not seem plausible because dust can collect on grounded heat sinks in computers.

I suppose that the true reason is #1.

Any comments?

Whatever the reason, there seems no way to prevent it other than filtering the air.
 
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  • #2
LAP3141 said:
Reason #2 does not seem plausible because dust can collect on grounded heat sinks in computers.

I don't think that is sound logic. If you can remove all charge from the blades and they still get just as dusty, I think that would cast doubt on reason (2).
 
  • #3
LAP3141 said:
Any cooling fan, as well as any objects that it cools, will invariably become choked with fine dust after a time. But this seems quite surprising considering that all the dust is being accumulated on surfaces that are exposed to large currents of moving air.

I've learned of two possible reasons:

1) The boundary layer of air attached to the surface does not move and all dust can easily collect there.
2) Static charge on the surfaces will hold dust.

Reason #2 does not seem plausible because dust can collect on grounded heat sinks in computers.

I suppose that the true reason is #1.

Any comments?

Whatever the reason, there seems no way to prevent it other than filtering the air.
I imagine van der Waals interactions are also important.
The article linked below has a discussion on the forces and interactions that result in dust accumulation in microelectronics.
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02786828708959155
 
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  • #4
LAP3141 said:
Whatever the reason, there seems no way to prevent it other than filtering the air.
Another option is to close the system from dirt-laden outside air, and use an enclosure cooler for heat removal.
 
  • #5
Often the dust is found on impact sites like the leading edge or low pressure or velocity zones.
 
  • #6
Dust can collect anywhere because of its ion charge and what the dust is composed of. I believe #2 is most likely correct and really discount #1
 
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  • #7
Also, for fan blades and things with edges, take a look at house dust under a microscope. Some dust is more like filaments than particles. Those filaments can catch on edges and tiny irregularities. Combine that with static electricity caused by friction and you've got dust buildup. The lack of dust buildup on the bottoms of shelves, for example, is due to very low static electricity potential.
 
  • #8
In storm drains (water carrier rather than air), in heavy flows from the street through the grate, there is a build-up with the consistency of soft sandstone on the back wall of the drain. This appears where the entering water impacts the back wall and deposits sediments. Eventually the build-up impedes drainage. When the water gets too deep, one of us in the neighborhood will remove the access cover and use a steel pole to break up the deposit. This supports the OP's reason No. 1, for at least this situation.

Cheers,
Tom
 

1. What causes dust to accumulate on fan blades and elsewhere?

Dust accumulation is primarily caused by the natural movement of air and the presence of particles in the air. As air circulates, it carries small particles such as dust, pollen, and pet dander which can settle on surfaces, including fan blades.

2. Does dust accumulation affect the performance of a fan?

Yes, dust accumulation can impede the performance of a fan. As dust builds up on the blades, it creates an uneven surface, which can cause the fan to become unbalanced and vibrate, leading to noise and reduced airflow. Additionally, the dust can clog the fan's motor and decrease its efficiency.

3. How often should fan blades be cleaned to prevent dust accumulation?

The frequency of cleaning fan blades depends on a few factors, including the environment and usage. In general, it is recommended to clean fan blades every 3-6 months. However, if you live in a dusty or high-pollen area or use the fan frequently, it may need to be cleaned more often.

4. What is the best way to clean dust off fan blades?

The best way to clean dust off fan blades is by using a soft, damp cloth or a microfiber duster. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as they can damage the blades. It is also essential to turn off and unplug the fan before cleaning to prevent any accidents.

5. Can dust accumulation on fan blades be harmful to health?

Dust accumulation on fan blades can potentially be harmful to health, especially for individuals with allergies or respiratory conditions. When the fan is running, it can circulate the dust and allergens in the air, causing irritation and worsening symptoms. Regularly cleaning the fan blades can help reduce allergens and improve indoor air quality.

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