Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers (RTOs)

A Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer, also known as an RTO, is a type of industrial process equipment designed to decompose volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and other airborne solvents into innocuous CO2 and water vapor by heating the exhaust air to a very high temperature, over 1400°F.

How Does An RTO Work?

An RTO consists of two or three towers which contain specialized thermal ceramic material, connected at the top by a high-temperature combustion chamber and direct-fired burner.

RTO Operation

The basic operation of a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer consists of four basic steps:

  1. Heating: Industrial process exhausts carrying VOCs & HAPs are passed through a heated ceramic material in one tower, heating the gas up to ~1300°F.
  2. Incineration: A natural-gas fired burner raises the air stream temperature from 1300°F to ~1450°F, thereby oxidizing all complex carbon solvents into CO2 and water vapor.
  3. Recovery: The super heated gas is passed down through the second tower, which contains the same heat sink ceramic material, and recovers a majority of the heat from the burner.
  4. Purge: Only in the 3-tower design, the third tower purges a small amount of air into the combustion chamber to prevent any exhausts from escaping.

As the first tower cools and the second tower heats up, the direction of the air through the towers reverses periodically to recover the heat from the RTO burner.

regenerative thermal oxidizer operation
photo of a regenerative thermal oxidizer

Applications & Industries

Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers (RTOs) will oxidize:

  1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  2. Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)
  3. Industrial Odors
  4. And more organic solvents, emissions, GHGs, and pollutants.

Industries Served

RTOs have been installed for use in the following industries:

  1. Paint & Coatings
  2. Petroleum
  3. Oil & gas
  4. Food
  5. Printing
  6. Chemicals
  7. Pharmaceutical
  8. Ethanol
  9. Semiconductor
  10. Automotive

TKS has installed new RTOs at Honda, TMMK, TMMTX, TMMI, TMMBC, TMMMS, Nissan, Subaru, Ford, and Kia.

rto burner

Greater than 95% Heat Recovery

The primary advantage of the RTO design is the ability to capture and re-use waste heat. Outgoing hot gases heat the ceramic media beds which then heat the incoming pollutant air. At >95% thermal efficiency, the RTO achieves more heat recovery than any other oxidizer.

rto modular build

Mod-Build

Your RTO can be completely assembled, wired, and tested in a fabrication shop, prior to shipment to site. Mod-build reduces field labor, installation costs, and install time required.

regenerative thermal oxidizer design and engineering

Expert Engineering

Our in-house engineers perform advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to understand air flows inside the RTO towers and combustion chamber.

air pollution control equipment - stacks

Consistently High DREs

The RTO achieves consistently high destruction removal efficiencies (DREs), year-after-year during annual emissions permit evaluations.

rto combusion reaction

Self-sustaining Reactions

After the RTO completes start-up, heat-up and reaches steady-state, if the incoming VOC concentration is greater than 5% LEL, the RTO is capable of sustaining the required heat set-point via combustion of the incoming VOCs alone. No supplementary natural gas is needed.

ultra low NOx burners for oxidizers

Ultra-low NOX Burners & Controllers

We offer low NOX burners with specialized controllers to monitor and adjust the precise air-to-fuel mixture to ensure a complete burner and avoid running too lean or too rich in the mixture. Having a precise mixture of air and fuel helps avoid the creation of NOX by-products.

rto controls

Advanced Data Analytics

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and HMI controls with digital data storage and retrieval.

tks rto turnkey installations

Turnkey Installations Available

TKS specializes in turnkey projects where we can vertically integrate engineering, design, CAD, raw material sourcing, fabrication, labor, freight, installation, purchased equipment, controls, skilled trades, commissioning, start-up, and complete project management. Let us handle everything for you today.

Why Choose An RTO?

regenerative thermal oxidizer photo

An RTO has become the standard go-to equipment for reliable treatment for harmful manufacturing air pollution emissions. Boasting the best up-time in the industry, an RTO also works on nearly every industrial by-product including solvents from paint, coatings, petroleum, oil & gas, food, printing, chemicals, pharmaceutical, ethanol, semiconductor, automotive, and more.

When tested for permitting, RTOs often exhibit destruction removal efficiencies of 95-99%.

Used in industry on exhaust air volumes as low as 5,000 CFM, RTOs can be produced for any volume of air, with no upper limit on size. Individual units can be as large as 50,000 CFM and units can be combined in parallel for treatment of any amount of air over 50,000 CFM.

RTO units are assembled in the fabrication shop to test for any fit & finish issues prior to being shipped to the field for installation. With modular build, field installation times are reduced and a high quality standard is consistently met.

RTOs often achieve thermal efficiencies of 95% or greater, offering lower energy costs than an equivalently-sized thermal oxidizer.

Other Services

rto installation supervision

Installation Supervision

TKS offers an experienced site team to install your new equipment: Skilled trades supervision, safety watch, and project managers.

Technical Service & Support

TKS representatives are here for you if you need help resolving a production issue or need technical support or expertise.

Off-the-shelf Products

Don't need a custom solution? TKS offers off-the-shelf products at a reduced cost. Use a standard product and save on engineering and design fees.

Troubleshoot Equipment

Having trouble with a TKS product? Our product experts are available to help you identify the underlying issues and get it up and running quickly.

Cost-effective Consulting

Need an expert opinion or some technical advice? TKS Engineers and Project Managers are available for short- or long-term consulting arrangements.

Turnkey Project Team

Want TKS to handle every detail? Turnkey equipment packages are available with our skilled project teams. Just show up and turn the key.