Baumgartner Environics Inc. is improving pig performance by delivering clean air to the animals. The EPI Air II “scrubs” barn air of dust, gases and pathogens by using a process called electrostatic particle ionization.
Completed commercial trials show EPI Air improves pig performance by increasing average daily gain and reducing mortalities. In addition, multiple studies are being conducted to measure the effect of EPI Air on porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus at the University of Manitoba, University of Minnesota and at various other locations under supervision of Gil Patterson, DVM.
The studies focus on the amount of PRRS being removed from in-barn and exhausted barn air. Studies are also looking at the amount of PRRS virus being killed by EPI Air, the level of PRRS in pigs’ bloodstreams and the growth response shown by PRRS-infected pigs when breathing EPI Air. Additional studies are being conducted on improvements in ammonia, dust and hydrogen sulfide levels, both inside the barn and in exhausted air.
“Completed studies show pig performance improvement, reduced dust, germs and gases,” explained Matt Baumgartner, general manager, Baumgartner Environics Inc. “Another study shows that EPI Air increased the life of pre-filters by several-fold. EPI can dramatically reduce the amount of particulates/dust that deposits on pre-filters, offering a significant savings from extending pre-filter life.”
Baumgartner explained that the EPI Air II system charges the airspace in the production room with trillions of freed electrons. These electrons then cause particles to be attracted to many surfaces via static electricity. This process removes particles such as dust and pathogens from the air. Most of the dust is deposited on the barn floor and is worked into the manure pit by the animals, he adds.
The electrons are released into the room via corona points that are welded to stainless-steel pipes. The pipes are suspended 50 in. above the pig space by insulators. At least one power supply (a sophisticated transformer) is required to treat up to 15,000 sq. ft.
Corona pipes are installed 10 ft. on-center over the pig space. “A typical wean-to-finish barn will have one power supply and four corona pipes extending the length of the animal living space,” Baumgartner explained. “Multiple rooms can be linked to each power supply, or large rooms can have multiple power supplies. The EPI Air II system is modular, and can fit almost every space, from a 2-ft.-wide space in front of a filter to a 100,000-sq.-ft. barn.”
Baumgartner recommends that the EPI system be turned off when workers are in the pig space to reduce the chance of touching an energized corona pipeline. A winch (manual or motorized) can be used to lift the lines quickly when cleaning a room or when people are working in the area. Lift arms bring the corona pipe close to the ceiling.
Leon Sheets asked what would happen if people came in contact with the corona pipe. Baumgartner said the system delivers static shock similar to that from an electric fence.
Baumgartner said that multiple research studies have confirmed that the EPI Air II system can remove between 36%-90% of total bacteria and viruses, 50%-80% of the suspended particulate matter from the air space, and 50%-70% of the gases like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.
The equipment is easy to maintain and is made of noncorrosive parts which can be power-washed. Baumgartner said workers should simply turn the EPI Air II system off and lift it up during washing. The system should be allowed to dry before it is turned back on.
To illustrate the low operating cost of the EPI Air II system, Baumgartner said the electrical requirement for a 1,200-head, wean-to-finish barn would be similar to a 100-watt light bulb. The EPI Air II costs $15,700 for a 1,000-head barn. He estimates the return on investment is less than 18 months.
Sheets thought the system looked fairly easy to install. The panel felt the system could provide definite benefits to producers. “This company took a concept that has been floating around for several years and made it producer-friendly and commercially viable,” Steve Hoff observed.
“The technology makes sense that it could reduce bacteria and viruses in the environment,” Paul Yeske, DVM, noted. “There is good production data already available on the EPI Air I system, and more data being generated on the EPI Air II.”