Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

December, 2002

Reducing Thermal Oxidizer Fuel Costs

Q. Apparently, we can save a lot of thermal oxidizer fuel costs by adding a catalyst to the oxidizer. This fuel is the largest operating cost of our coating line after the cost of the coatings we use. Is catalyst addition really practical?

A. Adding a catalyst may be practical but you need to investigate several key issues.

  • Check that your coatings do not contain appreciable amounts of inorganic materials such as heavy metals that could contaminate, and thus deactivate, the catalyst.
  • Ensure that your coatings do not contain appreciable amounts of chlorine, sulfur or other elements that can also deactivate the catalyst.
  • Ask your proposed catalyst supplier if he/she will guarantee that you can still meet EPA or state/local emission limits. In other words, the abatement efficiency of the system must meet the EPAs or your state’s requirements. The EPAs BACT Clearinghouse will give you an indication of the minimum efficiency you must meet.
  • Will the cost of the catalyst and any modifications to your thermal oxidizer be low enough that your fuel cost savings will pay the installation costs in a short (0.5-2 years) period?
  • Ask your potential catalyst suppliers if he/she can show you similar successful applications in your industry.

This question has been answered by Robert Kenson an associate of Ron Joseph & Associates, Inc.

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