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Managing Toxic Organic Air Contaminants With Catalytic Oxidation

The extensive use of catalytic oxidation particularly for emission control began twenty years ago and has been prevalent among the automotive industry due to the control requirements included in the Clean Air Act Amendments which was passed in 1970.

At present, a quarter of a billion cars are furnished with catalytic converters. On the other hand, catalytic oxidation for volatile organic compounds or VOC control for static sources has been established in the 40’s for odor control and energy recovery and regeneration.

Ever since the use of catalysts in the early days for technology has significantly evolved both for the automotive and the stationary sources that basically refers to manufacturing plants and other related industrial companies.

The catalytic oxidation process also has been very effective for managing VOHAP emission in different industries including petrochemical companies, oil refining operations, bakeries, pharmaceutical manufacturing, coating operations, and food processing, and printing among many others.

Control competence and good organization of at least 97% to 98% can be attained and there are systems that have been established and performing properly for more than 8 years.

The catalytic oxidation is basically a chemical oxidation method where hydrocarbons are integrated with oxygen at a precise temperature to produce carbon dioxide and water. As the process suggests, this requires a catalyst or a substance that helps speed up the pace of the chemical reaction without being consumed itself.

Majority of industrial exhausts are oxidized using incineration as the primary method of catalytic oxidation. The catalyst reduces the activation energy in the chemical reaction which is the energy needed in order for the molecules to react to each other. When there is a catalyst, the same reaction can happen but at a much lower temperature which result to a much lower operating costs on the part of the company.

In catalytic oxidation, there are plenty of chemical elements that display solid catalytic activity. But on the other hand, there are some precious metals that have application in controlling gaseous emissions including rhodium, manganese dioxide, palladium, platinum and other rare metal oxides.

Each of these metals has distinctive properties and when the proper combination of metal or metals is selected, each can have efficient VOHAP control application. The chosen catalyst will be placed on a carrier to produce an extensive dispersion of the active metal and produce a much larger surface area. This carrier is usually a mechanical support assembly which is usually in metal honeycomb form.

There are advantages when using catalytic oxidation compared to thermal destruction. Aside from its cost efficient operation, it also has lower energy requirement in order to perform oxidation.

When a system can oxidize using a much lower temperature, it can be translated into bigger energy savings on the part of the company. With thermal oxidation, higher temperatures are required and robust materials for the system construction are also needed in order to withstand the immense heat being produced. In essence, it will be consuming more energy and company resources compared to catalytic oxidation.

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