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Baker Furnace Blog-Cleaning the Air You Breathe Part 1

Take a deep breath. If you filled your lungs with clean, fresh air, you may have thermal oxidizers to thank. Thermal oxidizers help you breathe easier, reduce disease, and even live longer by cleaning pollutants from the air.

Air pollution is one of the most serious problems in the world. The air you breathe may contain dangerous particulates and biological molecules that can cause allergies, disease, and even death to humans, plants, and animals. Diseases relating to air pollution were responsible for 1 in 13 deaths – six times higher than deaths associated with malaria.

Short- and long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with a number of health problems, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including increased respiratory symptoms and hospitalization for heart or lung diseases. Some toxic or hazardous pollutants in the air may cause cancer or other health problems, such as reproductive issues or birth defects. Exposure to air pollution can even lead to premature death.

Sources of Air Pollution

Air pollution can come from natural and manmade sources. Dust from the ground, smoke from wildfires, methane emitted by farm animals, and even volcanic activity are natural causes of air pollution. Motor vehicles, aircraft, and marine vessels are manmade sources of air pollution, as are fumes from hairsprays and aerosols.

Industry has the potential to create a significant amount of air pollution. Combustion from stationary sources, such as factories, refineries, and power plants, pumps a wide variety of dangerous pollutants into the air. Examples of hazardous air pollutants and sources include the benzene in gasoline, methylene chloride used as a paint stripper and solvent, and perchloroethylene emitted from some types of dry cleaning facilities.

Organic compounds contain carbon; volatile organic compounds are organic compounds that easily become gas. Volatile organic compounds may contain hydrogen, oxygen, chlorine, fluorine, sulfur bromine, or nitrogen. Volatile organic compounds combine with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, or smog. Burning fuel, such as gasoline, coal, wood, or natural gas can emit volatile organic compounds, as do oil and gas fields, diesel exhaust, solvents, paints, glues, and other products.

The Use of Catalytic Thermal Oxidizers for Air Pollution Abatement (Cleaning the Air you Breathe)

Thermal oxidizers destroy hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from industrial airstreams. A thermal oxidizer breaks down pollutants by exposing hazardous gases to high temperatures, and then releases the treated gases into the air.

There are two main types of thermal oxidizers: catalytic and direct-fired. A catalytic oxidizer is a piece of equipment that features a blower system, inlet tube, head exchanger, combustion chamber, oxidation catalyst bed, and several smaller components. Blowers direct air through the heat exchanger into the combustion chamber where the process stream is heated further using a burner or electric heat.  As the heated process stream passes through the catalyst bed, converting hazardous compounds into their smaller, less harmful components. Clean air, CO2, water vapor, and heat then enter the atmosphere. Direct-fired thermal oxidizers use a blower system to introduce the process stream directly in contact with the burner flame.  Recuperative direct-fired oxidizers reclaim some of the heat before it is lost to the atmosphere.

Thermal oxidizers can destroy more than 99 percent of VOCs in air to reduce unhealthy substances in the air you breathe every day. Three main factors influence the effectiveness of thermal oxidation: temperature, residence time, and turbulence. Most organic compounds ignite at temperatures between 590 °C (1,094 °F) and 650 °C (1,202 °F) so many thermal oxidizers operate at much higher temperatures. Residence time is the amount of time gases remain in the oxidation chamber. Turbulence is the mixture of combustion air with the hazardous gases.

Baker Furnace has been an industry leader in custom industrial pollution control system engineering and manufacturing for more than 25 years. Our skilled team specializes in a variety of pollution abatement systems, including thermal oxidizers, for industrial air pollution control. Baker Furnace thermal oxidizer systems destroy 99.9 percent of volatile organic compounds from air. Follow us on social media for up-to-the-minute news on industrial furnaces and more.

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