What are VOCs?

  • Organic compounds are compounds that contain carbon and hydrogen. They occur naturally and can be found in all living things.

  • Some organic compounds are liquids that require an additional process like heating or cooling to create vapor, these are considered stable compounds.

  • An organic compound is considered volatile if it vaporizes (a gas) at room temperature and normal atmospheric pressure. (Think of the fumes you see on gas pumps without vapor recovery nozzles.) Some of these vapors are dangerous to humans when inhaled in great quantities or over a long period of time.

  • Some volatile organic compounds interrupt and destroy natural plant processes.

  • Many of VOC’s have a much more complicated effect: they lead to the formation of ozone and smog.

What is Ozone?

  • Ozone is three oxygen atoms bonded together to form O3.

  • Ozone occurs naturally, but the introduction of large amounts of VOCs into our lower atmosphere has caused an unhealthy amount of ozone to be created.

  • Oxygen + VOCs + Sunlight + Combination of complex reactions lead to the formation of ozone.

  • In the earth’s upper atmosphere, ozone is an important layer that protects the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

  • When ozone is closer to the earth it is a dangerous compound. This is because it mixes with other compounds in the air and becomes the main component of smog.

What is Smog?

  • Smog is more than an ugly brown cloud hovering over the cities of the world.

  • Smog causes respiratory ailments and heart conditions.

  • Smog destroys agriculture and forests.

  • Smog damages our entire environment.

  • The best way to reduce ozone and smog is to eliminate, or capture and treat, the release of VOCs.

What are HAPs?

  • Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) are Volatile Organic Compounds that have additional harmful properties.

  • The effects of HAPs have been shown to be even more severe than VOCs.

  • According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HAPs cause 1,000 to 3,000 cancer deaths a year in the U.S.

  • HAPs can cause birth defects, nervous system damage and, during massive accidental releases, death.

  • HAPs also cause serious environmental damage.

  • Implementation of pollution control technologies can capture and destroy HAPs before they are released into the atmosphere.

  • Typically, the most effective destruction of HAPs and VOCs is accomplished by oxidation.

What is Oxidation?

  • Oxidation causes compounds to be broken up and reformed into new compounds.

  • Thermal oxidation occurs when the right amount of heat and oxygen is mixed with hydrocarbons.

  • In a thermal oxidation process contaminated or VOC-laden air, is heated to break apart the bonds of the contaminated compounds.

  • Thermal oxidation allows the molecules to reform naturally, bonding into carbon dioxide and water vapor which also releases energy (heat), the basic premise to all forms of oxidation.

  • During catalytic oxidation, the contaminated compounds in the air react with a catalyst material (platinum, palladium, rhodium, etc.) which breaks apart the contaminated compounds at a lower temperature.

  • Thermal Oxidation requires higher temperatures to break apart the compounds.

  • Different types of pollution control technologies can help reduce the operating costs of the equipment.

  • Every oxidation technology requires: Temperature, Time and Turbulence.


    Different types of VOCs require different temperatures to be oxidizer.


    Time relates to how long a compound needs to be at a certain temperature in order for it to be



    Turbulence is a fixed condition built into the equipment design. It ensures a proper mixture of VOCs

    and oxygen for combustion.

Which Technology Should I Use?

Ship & Shore Environmental can consult with you to determine which technology is most appropriate for your particular application and which will be the most cost effective.

In general, most equipment selections utilize the following 3 criteria:

  • Airflow (SCFM or Nm3/hr)

  • Contaminants (VOCs) in the airflow

  • Concentration of contaminants in the airflow

Technology selection:

A successful technology achieves full oxidation of VOCs by maintaining the proper mixture of oxygen and contaminants at the required temperature for a sufficient amount of time. Using the rate and content of your exhaust airflow, Ship & Shore will analyze the conditions at your manufacturing facility to determine which technology is most efficient and appropriate.

  • Catalytic Oxidizers

  • Thermal Oxidizers

  • Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers with built-in heat exchange media chambers provide high energy-efficiency to recover as much as 95% to 97%+ of the heat from oxidation.

  • Recuperative heat exchangers can also be added to thermal and catalytic oxidizers to recover between 50% and 75% of the heat required for oxidation

  • Concentrators and Adsorption Systems offer another unique approach to reducing long-term costs. By absorbing and then desorbing or concentrating the VOCs into a smaller airflow, the technology allows for the smallest oxidizer possible.

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