Therser UK Blog

What is a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer, why do I need one?

A regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) is an industrial air pollution control system used to treat volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and other volatile pollutants emitted by industrial processes. It is commonly employed in industries such as chemical manufacturing, paint and coating operations, printing, and pharmaceutical production.

The primary function of an RTO is to remove harmful pollutants from the exhaust air stream by oxidizing them at high temperatures. It operates on the principle of thermal oxidation, where the pollutants are subjected to elevated temperatures within a combustion chamber. The high temperatures cause the VOCs to break down into carbon dioxide and water vapor, which are environmentally benign.

The distinguishing feature of an RTO is its regenerative heat recovery system. It consists of multiple heat exchange chambers filled with ceramic media or structured packing material. The exhaust air from the industrial process is directed through one chamber, while a separate chamber is being heated. The ceramic media in the heated chamber absorbs the thermal energy of the hot gases, increasing its temperature.

After a certain period, the airflow direction is switched, diverting the exhaust air through the previously heated chamber. The heat stored in the ceramic media is transferred to the incoming air stream, preheating it significantly. This energy recovery process reduces the overall fuel consumption required to sustain the high oxidation temperatures.

The alternating flow pattern allows the RTO to achieve high thermal efficiency, typically exceeding 95%. This means that a large portion of the heat generated during the oxidation process is recaptured and reused to heat the incoming contaminated air. The energy efficiency of RTOs makes them cost-effective and environmentally friendly compared to other air pollution control technologies.

In addition to energy recovery, RTOs often incorporate other features such as automatic control systems, combustion chambers with multiple burners, and heat exchangers for process integration. These features help optimize the performance and reliability of the system while ensuring compliance with stringent emission regulations.

Overall, a regenerative thermal oxidizer is a highly efficient and effective solution for controlling air pollution in industrial settings, offering both environmental and economic benefits.

Controlling Air Pollution & Emissions

Why would I need one?

You would need a regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) if your industrial process generates volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), or other volatile pollutants that need to be treated before being released into the atmosphere. Here are some reasons why you might need an RTO:

  1. Environmental Compliance: Many countries have strict regulations regarding air pollution and emissions from industrial processes. If your operation produces VOCs or HAPs that exceed allowable limits, installing an RTO can help you meet regulatory requirements and ensure environmental compliance.

  2. Health and Safety: VOCs and HAPs can pose health risks to workers and nearby communities. These pollutants can contribute to air pollution, smog formation, and respiratory problems. By using an RTO, you can effectively remove or reduce these harmful pollutants, protecting the health and safety of your employees and the surrounding environment.

  3. Odor Control: Certain industrial processes can generate unpleasant odors that can be a nuisance to employees or residents living nearby. An RTO can help mitigate these odors by oxidizing the volatile compounds responsible for the smell, resulting in improved air quality and odor control.

  4. Process Efficiency: In some cases, the use of an RTO can provide process efficiency benefits. The energy recovery capability of an RTO allows it to preheat the incoming contaminated air using the heat generated during oxidation. This preheating can reduce the energy requirements of the process, resulting in cost savings and increased overall efficiency.

  5. Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility: Implementing an RTO demonstrates your commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility. By investing in pollution control technologies, you showcase your dedication to reducing your environmental impact and improving air quality in your community.

It's important to note that the need for an RTO depends on the specific characteristics of your industrial process, the pollutants generated, and the applicable regulations in your region. Consulting with environmental experts or regulatory agencies can help you determine if an RTO is necessary for your operation and guide you through the compliance process.


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