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What is a catalytic thermal oxidizer?
A catalytic thermal oxidizer is an air pollution control device used in industrial processes to destroy volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odor-causing compounds, and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) before exhausting the process air to atmosphere. Using moderately high temperatures (~800°F) and a basic- or precious-metal catalyst to trigger a combustion reaction, the VOCs & air pollutants undergo thermal oxidization, transforming the organic solvents into CO2 and H2O.
Similar to a thermal oxidizer, except the catalytic oxidizer uses a metal catalyst to lower the required reaction temperature to fully oxidize the VOCs.
A catalyst is a substance that is used to accelerate the rate of a chemical reaction, allowing the reaction to occur faster and at a lower temperature range. The catalyst may be precious metal, such as platinum or palladium, or it may be a basic metal, such as metal oxides or metal carboxylates using iron, vanadium, or molybdenum.
Catalytic Oxidizers are available in a few different varieties:
- Catalytic Thermal Oxidizer (CATOX): This type uses a metal catalyst to speed along the VOC's decomposition reaction. The main advantage of a catalytic oxidizer is that it can operate at much lower temperatures of 800°F-900°F instead of 1400°F-1500°F.
- Recuperative Catalytic Oxidizer: Similar to the catalytic oxidizer above, the recuperative version operates at much lower temperature, 800-900°F, but it also incorporates an air-to-air heat exchanger to preheat the incoming air.
- Direct Catalytic Oxidizer: This is a basic, non-recuperative catalytic oxidizer, which does not offer any type of waste heat recovery. The direct catalytic oxidizer is the least expensive type of catalytic oxidizer, but it requires the highest operating costs per CFM due to not heat recovery.
- Electric Recuperative Catalytic Oxidizer: These units work with electrical resistance heaters instead of propane fueled burners (the lower operating temperatures allow for this), and the exhaust goes through a heat exchanger to pre-heat the inlet gases, reducing operating costs. These type of units are very helpful in facilities where fuel gas is not available or impractical.
Catalytic Oxidizer effectiveness on:
*Note: acids and halogenated compounds can be managed with careful catalyst selection.
*Note: corrosive gases can be managed via temperature and specialty materials.
*Note: particulate matter will clog or foul the catalyst and must be filtered or removed.
*Note: heavy metals will not be removed via oxidation and may poison the catalyst.
Industries, Applications, & Case Studies
Catalytic Oxidizer Manufacturers
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Types of Catalytic Oxidizers
Catalytic Thermal Oxidizer (CATOX)
Catalytic Recuperative Oxidizer (CRO)
- Catalytic Oxidizer with Heat Exchanger (HEX)
- RCOs are available in these varieties:
2-Chamber, 3-Chamber, Rotary