Conventional road sweepers use jets underneath the vehicle body to spray water onto the road surface. This helps to loosen particles and reduce airborne dust. Brushes then scrub the dirt off the surface, while a cylindrical broom-like brush sweeps the debris onto a conveyor belt which leads to a storage container, or hopper, inside the vehicle. Alternatively, a vacuum mechanism may suck up the debris.
Typically, the brushes are capable of spinning at around 4,000 revolutions per minute (rpm).
Regenerative road sweepers use a hydraulic system that forces air into a swirling effect inside a contained sweeping head. A negative pressure on the suction side is then used to suck the debris into the hopper. The truck is fitted with filters that use centrifugal separation to clean the air of the debris, allowing the air to be reused.
These road sweepers are often noisier than conventional sweepers, as an extra engine is required to power the vacuum pump.
Many modern road sweepers are PM10 certified, which means they are capable of collecting and holding particulate matter as small as 10 μm (micrometres), which is often a leading cause of stormwater pollution.
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