For more than two decades, Tikkurila has been treating the VOC emissions in Finland’s paint production plant with the first regenerative catalytic VOC oxidizer on the market. Catalytic incineration has proven to be a very applicable, easy and effective way to respond to environmental challenges. The oxidizer also meets today’s strict environmental permission requirements.
In the beginning of the 1990s, Finland’s environmental authorities required the Tikkurila paint factory to start managing hydrocarbon emissions released from the decorative paint manufacturing process. These emissions are harmful to the air quality and ground-level ozone formation. The pilot catalytic VOC incinerator, developed by Formia’s Chief Technology Officer Reijo Lylykangas, offered Tikkurila an effective solution for eliminating these large VOC emissions. Unpleasant hydrogen sulfide odor and other smelly compounds released in the paint adhesive production reaction were removed with the same incinerator.
Catalytic VOC incineration is an excellent and reliable solution
”Although the share of water-based products is continuously increasing, the solvent-based paints will still dominate for a long time, especially in industrial painting”, estimates Pekka Kotilainen, the Environmental Manager of Tikkurila. “The EU legislation requires companies that use paints, adhesives or other coating with organic solvents, e.g. painting shops, to decrease their VOC emissions to less than certain limit values. Switching to water-based products is one way to comply with regulations – provided that there are competitive solvent-free products available. Another option is to continue with proven solvent-based paints, complemented with treatment system of the volatile solvents. Catalytic incineration is an excellent choice for doing this”, states Kotilainen.
The catalytic VOC oxidizer has been operating with three shifts most of the time in Tikkurila during the past two decades. The company follows strict environmental permit conditions, which comprehensively limit the plant’s emissions into air, water and soil. These emissions are precisely monitored. Internal VOC emission measurement is conducted four times a year and an accredited research laboratory makes comparative follow-up measuring every second year. “According to VOC legislation, the emission limit value for the incinerator is 100 mg C/Nm³. Also reliability is an essential requirement, as the oxidizer is expected to be operational minimum 96% of the adhesive plant operation time. There hasn’t been any problems with either of these conditions during the years”, tells Kotilainen. “The VOC oxidizer operates fully automatically and needs no daily or weekly actions. Our monitoring routine includes checking of temperature on the control panel located in the monitoring room three times a day. An external visual and hearing perception of the equipment is made once a week”, explains Rainer Lanaeus, the HVAC Supervisor of the Tikkurila Maintenance department.
Service and maintenance measures of the VOC oxidizer have been systematically registered at Tikkurila. The most common measures have been replacement of valve gaskets and heating resistors. The incinerator is shut down for an oil change twice a year, and currently the filters are changed after one and half year’s time. “Operation of the catalysts has not perceptibly declined during the long working life, although mostly sulfur compounds and other strongly smelly compounds from the adhesive plant are treated during the nights”, tells Lanaeus. This is due to the fact that a noble metal catalyst, similar to those in millions of cars and trucks is used. Noble metals Platinum and Palladium in the PGM catalyst don’t react with sulfur like basic metal oxide catalysts do.
Today's VOC technology is remarkably compact and energy efficient
This VOC oxidizer is the first regenerative catalytic VOC oxidizer on the market and represents the ancestor of EcoPro cross flow oxidizers. It is relatively large in terms of concentration dimensioning, mechanical structure and size. The current cross flow VOC oxidizer product family is based on the same catalytic incineration technology, but due to an innovative structure, the oxidizers are approximately tenfold smaller in size. Also energy consumption has been decreased to one tenth compared to the Tikkurila pilot oxidizer.