Phillips Plastics Corp. (PPC) is a world-class injection molder with leading-edge secondary decorating and assembly capabilities. The privately owned company is solely based in Wisconsin and has almost 1,600 employees spread across 15 separate locations operating in seven communities. Its eleven manufacturing facilities provide products to the medical, automotive, telecommunication and consumer product industries. The Medford, WI, facility performs plastic injection molding and provides the organization with secondary decorating operations such as painting, laser etching, laser marking, pad printing and assembly of automotive, telecommunication and consumer products.
Through the 1990s, this facility ran successfully with a minor source air pollution control operation permit. This permit consists of very specific requirements to meet the EPA’s Latest Available Control Technology (LACT) regulation. These included restricted limits on volatile organic compounds (VOC) per gallon of paint, catalyst, thinner and cleaning solvent as purchased. The regulation limited the types of paints and colors PPC could offer customers, but given its customer needs and production volume at the time, the situation was manageable.
As the business grew and the company began to receive a greater number of requests by customers for more exotic forms of paint and colors, PPC realized the need to increase its paint capabilities in order to compete. In December 2000, the company applied for two new permits with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), one for an air pollution construction permit to install a new state of the art robotic paint line system and the other for the ability to paint small metal parts. This permit modification changed the facility from a minor source of less than 100 tons per year of VOC emissions to a major source with the potential to emit over 225 total tons.
With the new permit, PPC not only had to meet the LACT requirements for painting plastic parts but now also needed to meet the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) requirements for painting small metal parts. While the MACT requirements added a higher level of restrictions to VOCs per gallon of paint as applied to metal parts, these restrictions were applicable and once again manageable.
Although the new permit allowed PPC to meet additional painting volume capacity requirements, the company observed continued demand by its customers for paints that could not be used under the air permit. Additionally, with the facility’s acceptance into the ISO 14001:1996 standards, PPC realized the need to significantly reduce its VOC emissions.
The only way to meet customer demands and reduce emissions was to install pollution control equipment.
Evaluating the OptionsPPC formed an internal group to explore the various control technologies available on the market. Consideration was given to equipment and concepts such as:
- Catalytic oxidizers
- Thermal oxidizers
- Regenerative thermal/catalytic oxidizers
- Rotor concentrator coupled with a regenerative thermal oxidizer
- Microwave VOC reduction technologies
- Biofilter VOC reduction technologies
After thoroughly evaluating several suppliers, PPC decided to go back to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and request a new air pollution control construction permit to install an Anguil Model 400 40,000 SCFM (62,800 NM3/hr) RTO for its existing paint operations.
The oxidizer would achieve destruction through the process of high temperature thermal oxidation, converting the VOCs to carbon dioxide and water vapor while reusing released thermal energy to reduce operating costs. Process gases with VOC contaminants enter the oxidizer through an inlet manifold. Flow control valves direct this gas into energy recovery chambers where the process gas is preheated, then progressively heated in the ceramic beds as they move toward the combustion chamber.
The VOCs are oxidized in the combustion chamber, releasing thermal energy in the structured ceramic media beds that are in the outlet flow direction from the combustion chamber. These outlet beds are heated and the gas is cooled so that the outlet gas temperature is only slightly higher than the process inlet temperature. Fast-acting vertical poppet valves alternate the airflow direction into the ceramic beds to maximize energy recovery within the oxidizer. The VOC oxidation and high energy recovery within these oxidizers reduces the auxiliary fuel requirement and saves operating cost. For example, at 95% thermal energy recovery, the outlet temperature may be only 70°F (40°C) higher than the inlet process gas temperature with an RTO. The oxidizer can reach self-sustaining operation with no auxiliary fuel usage at low concentrations.
Allen Bradley programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are used to control the automatic operation of the oxidizer from startup to shutdown so minimal operator interface is required. These controls also provide for remote telemetry to enable the system’s operation to be viewed and altered via a modem connection to reduce maintenance costs.
Reaping the BenefitsLater that fall, the permit was accepted by the DNR for an air pollution control construction permit to install the RTO. Anguil was able to complete the design, fabrication, delivery, installation and startup of the equipment so it could go on-line early the next year.
After startup of the new RTO, a stack test measured 99% destruction rate efficiency for VOC emissions at 100% capture. This equated to a net reduction of 58 tons of emissions in the first six months of operation (see Figure 1). The benefits of installing the RTO included the ability to offer PPC customers a large variety of colors and finishes to meet their more unique finish requests. The RTO also allowed PPC to use previously restricted thinners and paints to better process its products with fewer rejects. This ability has allowed the business to grow and succeed in an increasingly competitive environment and meet the new demands from customers while significantly reducing the amount of air pollution released into the environment.
For more information, visit www.anguil.com.
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