When producing rubber for new light or heavy-duty vehicles, such as automotive, truck, or motorcycle tires, natural or synthetic rubber is the main raw material. In order to develop the proper characteristics of strength, resiliency, and wear-resistance, however, the rubber must be treated with a variety of chemicals and then heated.
Thermal treatment of VOCs and other air pollutants works by a simple reaction of the harmful hydrocarbon-based air pollutants with oxygen and heat. In this environment, the VOCs are chemically oxidized to form harmless inert by-products like CO2, water vapor (H2O) and usable heat. These harmless by-products are released to the atmosphere or used within primary or secondary energy recovery techniques to further lower the operational costs.
A Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) is typically the preferred oxidizer technology in rubber manufacturing because of the relatively low VOC concentrations within the process emissions and RTOs are generally the most thermally efficient thermal oxidizer.
The process exhaust from the mixing process also contains a significant amount of particulate carryover, which is routed to a particulate collection system, typically a baghouse, prior to be directed to the RTO.
Baghouses provide good uptime reliability, but from time to time bag breaks will occur and potentially go undetected for a period of time allowing some of the particulate into the airstream of the RTO system. The organic particulate that moves past the baghouse can be burned off during a bakeout cycle, but the inorganic particulate cannot be baked out and will build up over time inside the RTO heat exchanger. In these situations, some of the inorganic particulate may pass all the way through the system, however a portion will eventually build up within the heat exchanger leading to reduced thermal effectiveness, higher pressure drops, and eventual loss of airflow capacity. Each of these symptoms can lead to inefficient operation and potential compliance issues that will dictate unplanned downtime. A specific ceramic heat exchanger design minimizes the typical areas where plugging occurs, including areas designed for accumulation of the particulate and provides easy access for clean out. This reduces the potential for emergency outages and reduces planned maintenance downtime.