Top 7 Mistakes Made When Buying A Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer
1. Wrong material for the process application. Choosing materials that are right for the application     
will promote equipment life and regenerative thermal oxidizer dependability.
A. Skin or Shell Material Selection (Metal Type i.e. Carbon,Stainless Steel, Inconel, Thickness 3/8")
B. Valve Selection (Butterfly Valves vs. Poppet Valves)
C. Media Bed Support (Material and Thickness)
D. Paint (
Hot Dipped Galvanized vs. High Temperature)
E. High Quality Solenoids, Compressors, etc.
2. Characterization of the Plant Process Stream.
A. Misrepresentation or making an educated guess of the density of plant off gases. It is extremely important to
know the amount of VOC's, HAP's or other gases that the regenerative thermal oxidizer system will be per hour
or ppmv this will allow the proper design of the thermal oxidizer abatement equipment.
3. Plant's required vacuum pressure or the amount of VOC's.
This is a very common occurrence in the industry. Either the OEM builds a system to fit a budget as part of the
available capitol or the plant tries to get by with less. Either way, at start up the plant finds themselves with a real
problem. They can't process the off gas amount, vacuum pressure is inadequate or the regenerative thermal
oxidizer (RTO) unit runs too hot and is continually shutting down.
4. Sizing the Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer Heat Recovery System.
A common problem is when equipment companies size the heat recovery system for normal plant VOC volume
and not for high loading or spiking conditions that may exist in the plant from time to time. Often the designer will
manufacture a thermal oxidizer system for the average VOC loading condition, only to find that the plant has
frequent spike conditions. The regenerative thermal oxidizer system should be able to handle these frequent
spikes. These spikes can be addressed by use of a hot air by pass system which operates during these spike
phases. Afterwards when normal VOC conditions return the system will again be running at maximum heat
recovery efficiency. When spikes occur your heat recovery efficiency is not an issue.
5. Incorrect Heat Recovery Media or Heat Recovery Media Placement.
Incorrect media sizing or type can result in system fouling (plugging) or loss in thermal efficiency. Improper
media placement can result in inefficiencies by means of the process stream channeling. Proper media size and
media protection can protect the media material and give the system better thermal efficiency. Often air pollution
manufactures may specify ceramic media that is in stock or readily available and quality is inferior.
6. Improper Plant Particulate Filtration.
Poor or lacking maintenance of upstream particulate removal. This is very common issue when the plant
maintenance department fails to maintain proper filtration of the plant process gases going to the regenerative
thermal oxidizer. Poor filtration or lack of equipment in many off gas processes will result in early media
replacement or continual media cleaning.
7. Compliance Testing.
Testing the regenerative thermal oxidizer equipment above the permit requirement. Often companies wish to
run the system at higher destruction. This is great, however testing above the permit level can cause a new set
of problems. You may be required to operate the regenerative thermal oxidizer equipment on a established
baseline. After a period of time the thermal oxidizer may be running in compliance with the original permit, but
fails to be in the higher baseline due to aging of valve seals or particulate within the media. At this point you
may be out of the established baseline compliance.
American Environmental Fabrication & Supply LLC                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fax: +1 (918) 772-3536  
18991 S 410 Road Hulbert, OK 74441-1861                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
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