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Which Thermal Oxidizer System Type is Best for You?

A thermal oxidizer is a process machine unit that reduces air pollution and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) by incinerating hazardous gas at extremely high temperatures until the VOCs are removed.

A thermal oxidizer is installed in facilities and industrial sites to remove HAPs (hazardous air pollutants) and VOCs after industrial processes have taken place. These pollutants, removed via thermal oxidation, are hydrocarbon-based, which means that when they are destroyed via thermal oxidizers, they chemically oxidize to form CO2, water vapor, and heat. Because of their extremely high temperatures, thermal oxidizers are able to destroy nearly all (99%) of air pollutants, HAPs, and VOCs to meet the strict environmental regulations for pollution control.

The Three T’s – Time, Temperature, and Turbulence

There are three main factors that enable thermal oxidizers:


First, the temperature must be high enough to ignite all of the organic components that are in the air stream pushed through the machine. Most organic components ignite at temperatures between 590 degrees celsius (1094 degrees Fahrenheit) and 650 degrees celsius (1202 degrees Fahrenheit), and thermal oxidizers generally burn at a much higher temperature to ensure near complete (99%) destruction of the pollutants.


The thermal oxidizer requires enough “residence time” (or “dwell time”)  within the chamber of the oxidizer to ensure that the pollutants can react, oxidize, and be destroyed. Dwell times of 0.5-1 seconds convert over 99% of the VOCs to carbon dioxide and water vapor.


Turbulence is the combination of combustion air with the hazardous gases, ensuring that there is even, adequate airflow within the thermal oxidizer to ensure full combustion.

Types of Thermal Oxidizers

Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers

A Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (often referred to as RTO) destroys pollutants like Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and odorous emissions that are often discharged during industrial processes.

Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers achieve the highest VOC destruction with the lowest operating cost, and highest reliability relative to other thermal oxidizer technologies. All regenerative thermal oxidizer technologies achieve VOC destruction by exposing pollutant-containing air to a high temperature, for a set period of time, in a turbulent flow path.  Time, temperature and turbulence are critical and co-dependent factors that determine oxidizer performance. Regenerative thermal oxidizer systems utilize a special heat recovery method – regeneration– that has proven to be the most cost-effective approach for typical industrial applications.

RTOs repurpose the thermal energy that is produced during operation. This means that both total energy consumption and operational costs are reduced significantly with RTOs than when compared with other oxidizer technologies. In fact, it is possible for RTOs to operate with little to no fuel at all, if the process’s VOC concentration levels are high enough ( >/3-4% LFL).

Learn more about Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers.

Catalytic Thermal Oxidizers

A Catalytic Recuperative Oxidizer (often referred to as CATOX) destroys pollutants like Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and odorous emissions that are often discharged during industrial processes.

As with all thermal oxidizers, Catalytic oxidizers also destroy VOCs efficiently by heating pollutant airstreams at very high temperatures for a specific dwell time. Catalytic systems used bead or monolith catalyst material that allows for VOC destruction at lower temperatures than other oxidizer types.

Catalytic thermal oxidizers have a long lifespan, because they operate at a much lower temperature. Learn more about catalytic thermal oxidizers.

Recuperative Thermal Oxidizers

Recuperative heat thermal oxidizers (RCOs) are less commonly used devices that recover heat by passing the hot exhaust gas through a primary and/or secondary non-contact heat exchanger. This heat-exchanger heats the incoming air flowing to the oxidizer to reduce operating costs.

A recuperative thermal oxidizer system can have a single heat recovery device or multiple heat recovery devices.

Benefits of Working with Kono Kogs

The Kono Kogs philosophy is to provide innovative air pollution control technologies that provide the lowest cost, most reliable solution to our valued customers. We offer engineering, equipment manufacturing, installation, startup and post-sale service.

  • 24 Hour customer service and support (phone: 920-615-8804)
  • Multiple OEM & technology offerings ensure unbiased recommendations
  • Complete aftermarket sales department
  • Management with over a century of oxidizer manufacturing and service experience

Contact us or request a quote today!