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Air vs. Steam Atomization Part 2 – The Incineration Process

Posted on July 6th, 2017 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence


In layman’s terms, the incineration process involves the creation of a ball of fire into which hazardous waste is introduced and subsequently destroyed. There is (of course) much more to it than that. The incinerator burner system burns fuels such as natural gas and/or oil efficiently to create the hot gases. Hazardous wastes are introduced immediately downstream of the flame where they are rapidly heated and burned. Their high temperature is maintained for a period of time during which the contaminants in the waste are destroyed. This residence time is typically approximately 2 seconds but can vary with the type of waste and operating temperature.

Field testing is generally performed to ensure that the incinerator provides adequate waste destruction at maximum waste flow rates. Nonetheless, operating the incinerator at low waste flow rates generally increases residence time and tends to improve the destruction of wastes. Conversely, operation at higher waste flow rates generally reduces residence time, which tends to degrade the destruction of wastes (even though destruction is adequate based upon testing). The subtle point is that a process change that increases residence time also provides somewhat improved waste destruction.

After the waste has been maintained at a sufficiently high temperature (that varies for different wastes) for an appropriate residence time (typically approximately 2 seconds), the waste is considered destroyed and the hot gases can be used for other purposes such as generating steam and discharged to the atmosphere – presuming that other constraints such as particulate level limits are met.

Our incinerator presented little opportunity for additional heat recovery because it already included a boiler that generated steam with an economizer that preheated the water entering the boiler. One of our operational challenges was to ensure good combustion and maintain particulate levels sufficiently low so as to not require the installation of an expensive dust collection system.

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All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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