Cashing in on Carbon Credits with Thermal Oxidizers and RTOs

More companies are looking to purchase VOC-scouring technologies to cash in on the carbon credit market.

What a difference an administration makes. With the Obama team in place, discussions of climate change and the role of greenhouse gases are being taken a lot more seriously. While the discussions are often emotionally charged and filled with rhetoric, a number of facts have become just that, facts, leaving the theoretical in the dust that was the Bush-Cheney agenda. Fact: Human activities, including combustion of fossil fuels, do lead to the production, or emission, of excess carbon dioxide. A second fact could lead to some economic gymnastics destined to change our world for the better: Natural processes, notably photosynthesis amid plant growth and decay, when occurring on managed agricultural lands can sequester carbon. Perhaps most significant from an economic vantage – a voluntary private sector market has developed which facilitates the purchase and sale of “carbon credits.” The concept is simple, if elegant. Carbon dioxide emitters, less kindly called polluters, may choose to compensate for their contributions of carbon (or other greenhouse gases) by purchasing “offsets” which provide a monetary incentive to either decrease emissions or reduce atmospheric concentrations. Offset goals are being increasingly facilitated by various types of thermal oxidizers and regenerative thermal oxidizers (RTOs) which can be highly effective and energy efficient systems for minimizing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants emitted by industrial plants. These incinerators are able to thermally or catalytically convert pollution-laden emissions into a less contaminated form of CO2 and water vapor. Efficiency rates for the oxidation process are typically better than 99% destruction/removal efficiency (also called DRE) levels for VOCs, hazardous air pollutants, and odors.

Applications for such technologies used for maximizing carbon credit potential seem to be popping up everywhere. For instance, RTOs are being used to destroy low concentrations of methane at high air flow rates. Power generation is becoming commercially feasible as a by-product of such processes. Since coal mines are not likely to be capped under future climate regulations, they should become eligible to generate carbon offset credits in a federally-congenial “pre-compliance” culture. The only real “cap” on the creative use of Thermal Oxidizers and RTOs in the new Obama-energized milieu will be the imaginations of CEOs and enterprising entrepreneurs. As far as Global Warming is concerned, the sky is no limit when sequestering carbon is the goal.

Derek Lang is with Epcon Industrial, a manufacturer of air pollution control systems, thermal oxidizers, and industrial gas fired ovens. To learn more about thermal oxidizers, catalytic oxidizers, air pollution control systems, industrial ovens at

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