Catalytic Products International (CPI)

Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) - How it Works

Industrial manufacturers and processing companies regularly utilize a control device known as a thermal oxidizer to combat air pollution, create a “cleaner” footprint and ensure EPA compliance. A Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer, also known as an RTO, is the most common thermal oxidizer and offers significant operational cost savings due to the regenerative nature of the heat exchanger design. Upon start-up of the RTO, a burner is ignited to raise the combustion chamber temperature to set-point. Once the RTO has reached the desired temperature set-point, the system booster fan draws in the processed emissions and forces these gasses into the inlet of the RTO. The processed emissions are directed into a poppet valve manifold where the un-treated process stream enters one of the ceramic media-filled regenerator columns. The process stream is heated in the regenerator column from the inlet temperature of 100 degrees to over 1,425 degrees Fahrenheit at the exit of the ceramic media. The preheated process stream then enters the combustion chamber where the temperature will be raised to the set-point of where oxidation of the VOC’s is completed, typically around 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, greater than 99% of the entering VOCs will be converted to CO2 and water vapor. The clean, hot air stream is then forced down into the second heat exchanger column where it is cooled as it passes through the ceramic media which absorbs the heat before exiting through the second poppet valve. The cleaned, cool air is then directed to the exhaust stack and released into the atmosphere. Every 3 to 6 minutes, the process of air flow reverses direction as the poppet valves switch positions, allowing the heat captured in the ceramic media from the exiting clean air stream to heat the incoming process air. It is this regeneration of the ceramic heat exchanger media, with its high heat capacity which enables a Regenerative thermal oxidizer to deliver greater than 95% thermal efficiency. High temperature thermal oxidation is a proven solution that destroys toxins such as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, Hazardous Air Pollutants, and odorous emissions preventing them from entering the atmosphere.

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