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Thermal Oxidizers and Ground Flares to Reduce Air Pollution

Air pollution is one of the most serious challenges facing the world today. The mix of particles and gases in air pollution can reach harmful concentrations, both inside and outside. The most well-known negative effects of air pollution are higher disease risks and random temperature fluctuations.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a variety of chemical gases emitted by certain processes and by some solid objects or liquids. Burning fuels, such as gasoline, wood, coal, and natural gas, produce VOCs.

The American Lung Association reports that some VOCs are dangerous and have cancerous effects. Other VOCs can react with gases to form harmful air pollutants. VOCs can also cause unhealthy smog when they combine with nitrogen oxides, frequently emitted from vehicle exhaust and the burning of coal, diesel fuel, oil, and natural gas.

Destroying VOCs before they reach the air is essential to reducing the compounds’ harmful effects and decreasing air pollution. Thermal oxidizers and ground flares effectively purify dangerous VOCs in emissions before they ever reach the outdoor air.

Thermal Oxidizers

Many companies use thermal oxidizers to destroy VOCs in their industrial air streams. Thermal oxidizers feature a combustion chamber and discharge stack, to expose the untreated air streams to oxygen and high temperatures. Exposure to heat and oxygen for a calculated time (residence time) breaks down the VOCs into carbon dioxide, water vapor, and various other harmless heat-based substances.

After heating the VOC laden air in a combustion chamber, manufacturers can release the gas stream into the atmosphere as a non-volatile substance.

Ground Flares

Refineries and petrochemical facilities rely on ground flares to burn excess hydrocarbon gases that cannot be recovered or recycled. The flare systems burn excess hydrocarbon gases in an environmentally sound manner.

Ground flares can be either enclosed or open. While the structures of enclosed ground flares and open ones are different, the process is essentially the same. Both enclosed and open ground flares remove VOCs effectively, and the processes are less intrusive than the large stacks used by thermal oxidizers.

The ground flare process combines excess gases with steam and/or air, and then burns off the combination to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide. The process is similar to burning liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), frequently used as fuel for home cooking.

Open and closed ground flares

Open ground flares handle large gas flow rates and can burn larger quantities at a time. The units are nearly smokeless and feature a very high gaseous conversion rate. Open ground flares do require large clearances of land to operate, and the units must be kept at a safe distance.

An enclosed ground flare system converts potentially toxic or flammable gases into less harmful vapor without the use of a stack. The units feature vertical combustion chambers that operate by natural air draft. A refractory shell encloses the incineration process to shield radiation, the internal blaze, and noise.

Enclosed ground flares are suitable for managing low and medium gas flow rates. They require less space than open ground flares. These units may be used for gas, liquid, or combined emergency combustion.

Thermal oxidizers and ground flares are clean, efficient processes that effectively remove VOCs from the air. These processes help prevent toxic substances from reaching the air and help reduce the burden of air pollution.

Baker Furnace has been a leading afterburner system and thermal oxidizer manufacturer for more than 25 years. The skilled team at Baker Furnace specializes in custom designing a variety of industrial air pollution abatement systems, including thermal oxidizers and enclosed ground flares.

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