What is an Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer Unit?

regenerative thermal oxidizerThermal oxidizers have been used for air pollution control for many decades and are one of the most accepted technologies for the destruction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), and to some degree, odor.  These pollutants are generally organic and can be destroyed by oxidation at high temperature.  Oxidizers come in many different sizes, shapes, and configurations but all operate on the same basic principal of thermal combustion/oxidation.  Effective thermal oxidizers are designed based on temperature, residence time, and turbulence.

There are several types of thermal oxidizers that you may hear of in the marketplace with the most common terms being direct fired thermal oxidizer (DFO) and regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO).

You may also be familiar with catalytic oxidizers, either as regenerative catalytic oxidizers (RCOs) or recuperative catalytic oxidizers.  A catalytic oxidizer is simply a thermal oxidizer with an added catalyst that allows effective oxidation at a much lower temperature.

The most common and most widely accepted oxidizer type in the marketplace today is the RTO.  It is the preferred oxidizer technology for most applications due to its high destruction efficiencies and its ability to recover most of the thermal heat that is generated for the destruction of VOCs and HAPs.

destruction of VOCs and HAPs

The main purpose of an RTO is the destruction of VOCs and HAPs which is referred to as its Destruction Removal Efficiency (DRE).  DRE is the percentage of VOCs / HAPs that are destroyed in the RTO. The DRE is determined by comparing the inlet concentration to the outlet concentration, typically in parts-per-million (ppm).  Most RTOs are designed to achieve 95%-99% DRE.

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