What is a Cyclone Separator?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Cyclone separators are devices that are utilized to remove pollutants from air, natural gas, or even water. Equipment of this type does not rely on chemicals or cleaning agents to accomplish this task. Instead, a cyclone separator makes use of centrifugal force to separate the particulates from the main matter. The designs for equipment classified as cyclone separation devices varies, depending on the type of matter that must be separated, and the amount of materials that must pass through that process.

A cyclone separator may help to remove dust from the air.
A cyclone separator may help to remove dust from the air.

While designs will vary, a typical cyclone separator will include a chamber that is known as a cyclone. Often, the cyclone is either in the shape of a cylinder, or resembles a cone. With the conical design, air or gas is usually moves through the device by entering the wider end, and expelling the matter in a stream from the smaller, tapered end. At the same time, the chamber is rotating at a controlled rate of speed, effectively trapping the contaminants in the cylinder or cone. The end result is that the water, air, or gas that passes through the equipment is purified and can be utilized for other purposes.

There are different types of cyclone separator equipment designed for various types of purification processes. A cyclone dust separator is helpful in removing dust particles from air or natural gas. A liquid cyclone separator can often strip away contaminants that were picked up by the water as the liquid passed through some phase of a manufacturing process or even during processing in a city sewage operation. The percentage of purification that is accomplished will usually depend on the nature of the contaminants, the efficiency of the individual separator, and the volume of materials that must be processed.

One of the classic examples of a cyclone separator is found in sawmills. These larger pieces of equipment are used to removed any minute particles of sawdust that become airborne during the processing of raw woods and the creation of planing and other building materials. Similar devices are sometimes used in textile plants, where off-fly from yarn as it goes through any type of carding, spinning, or twisting process could contaminate different lots of material, as well as negatively impact the health of people working in the area. There are also small cyclone separators that can be attached to clothing, providing the wearer with the ability to minimize the amount of foreign particles that are taken in during the normal process of breathing.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I have an air purifier that operates with a cyclone separator. I had my doubts about it working very well before I bought it, but I must say that I have been pleasantly surprised by it.

The separator traps a lot of dust, hair, and dander. I can actually feel the air getting fresher as it works. I keep it in my bedroom, and I can sleep better with it on. It traps things that cause my allergies to flare up, so I don’t have to deal with sneezing and congestion while trying to fall asleep.

It makes a slight whirring sound, but it doesn’t keep me awake. I would compare the sound to that of a fan.

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