A vacuum cleaner is a common home appliance that can be found in any typical household. It is a machine that we frequently use which plays a very crucial role in keeping our homes spick and span. However, have you ever stopped to ask yourself; how does a vacuum cleaner work? Let us take a look at the science behind the functioning of a vacuum cleaner.
1st Step: Pressure Creation
A vacuum cleaner operates on the principle of difference in pressure. It is powered by an electric motor which rapidly spins its fan that has angled blades. The blades steer the air from under the fan upwards, leaving behind a partial
vacuum with the area near the floor surface having low pressure. As physics dictate, air will flow from an area of high pressure to that of low pressure.
2nd Step: Movement of Dirt
Given that the pressure under the vacuum cleaner is low, atmospheric pressure will push the air around towards this low-pressure region. As the air moves in, it carries with it dust particles and other tiny, loose debris on your floor. This is aided by the action of friction as the moving air interacts with these particles. Once under the cleaner, the dust is subsequently “sucked” into the vacuum cleaner bag using the same principle.
3rd Step: The Brush
Most vacuum cleaners have a rotating brush that sweeps over the floor as you move the machine around. This brush is powered by the same electric motor which pushes the brush back and forth. Through abrasion, the bristles chip off and loosen any dirt that may be trapped or stuck on the carpet. This enables the dust particles to be suspended onto the surface where they are picked up by the moving air as it flows into the vacuum cleaner. Some vacuum cleaners have special equipment to clean up pet hair so keep an eye out for that if you have pets.
4th Step: Vacuum Cleaner Bag
The vacuum cleaner contains a bag which covers the fan from above. As the machine sucks in the dust-laden air from areas on the floor with high pressure, this air ends up in the bag. The bag is porous to allow the air pass through but has the needed density to trap the small particles of dirt as the air escapes back into the atmosphere.
5th Step: Putting it together
Repeated action of the rotating brush as you move the machine across the floor ensures that all the dirt that was trapped in the room is loosened and freed to the surface where it can easily be carried by the moving air into the vacuum cleaner. The bristles on the brush also trap the larger particles and eventually, all corners of the room are left spotless.
The above processes lay out the physics behind the functioning of a vacuum cleaner. They work successively and chronologically to ensure that the dirt under the machine is removed. Once the last process has been achieved, the cycle loops back to the first and the cycle repeats itself. As you move the vacuum cleaner around the room, the cleaning continues until when there is no more dirt in the room.