Project Synopsis

Alternatives evaluation for replacement of a fume incinerator thermal oxidizer.

Project Summary


Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by the client, a major manufacturer of specialty chemicals, to perform an alternatives evaluation for replacement of a fume incinerator thermal oxidizer at the client’s chemical manufacturing facility.  The client had previously hired a consulting firm that specialized in the engineering of thermal treatment systems but had several questions and misgivings regarding the consulting firm’s findings.  As such, PROCESS was hired to execute the following project tasks:

  • Perform a thorough review of the initial consulting firm’s report and offer conclusions relative to the report’s accuracy and viability
  • Perform an independent thermal oxidizer technologies screening and technical and economic evaluation for the purpose of recommending the best technology option for the client application

PROCESS concluded that the initial consultant had not adequately assessed the option of recuperative thermal oxidation in that they had recommended replacing the entire existing firebox rather than retaining the firebox and simply adding recuperative heat exchangers to the existing system.  As such, the economics as set forth in the original report erroneously concluded that a recuperative thermal oxidizer option was much more expensive than replacement of the existing system with a regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO).  PROCESS was able to show that the two options were actually similar in cost, thus rendering the decision between the two options technical, rather than economic in nature.  The initial consultant also recommended the use of capture tank technology in order to utilize a two-bed RTO rather than a three-bed RTO.  An extensive survey of commercial operations by PROCESS revealed that no installations existed that proved the long-term viability of this new technology.  As such, once it was concluded on technical merits that the RTO was the preferred technology, PROCESS strongly recommended that the proven three-bed system be selected rather than the two-bed system with capture tank.

During the course of the project, PROCESS utilized its licensed commercial process simulation software to complete a comprehensive mass and energy balance of new system operation and to confirm the self-sustaining operation of an RTO.  PROCESS’ licensed commercial heat exchanger evaluation software was used to perform a detailed sizing of the heat exchangers for the recuperative oxidizer option and to form the basis for an economic comparison between using one or two recuperative exchangers.  In-house capital and operating cost estimating programs were used to prepare capital, operating, and annual costs for all thermal oxidizer replacement options.

A project review meeting was held between PROCESS and the client in PROCESS’ offices to review the results of the project and to recommend path-forward items for design and procurement of the recommended replacement alternative.

Industry Type

  • Specialty Chemicals Production

Utilized Skills

  • Thermal oxidizer technologies evaluation
  • Regenerative thermal oxidizer design
  • Independent design review
  • Heat exchanger sizing

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