How To Reduce VOCs in Manufacturing
VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds, and they are generated in all kinds of industries, from oil and gas refineries to consumer goods manufacture. They are a top source of air pollution, are linked to high ground-level ozone concentrations. They are linked to health consequences ranging from increased risk of stroke and heart disease to acute respiratory infections, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other lung diseases such as asthma.
Being a responsible manufacturer clearly requires doing everything you can to reduce the emission of these dangerous compounds into the air. Even if you are already meeting the legal standards in your area, you may be able to do more to pollute less. Here are some avenues to explore.
Use Technology to Neutralize Pollutants
Abatement technologies can help neutralize pollution at the source so that fewer harmful compounds are released into the air. They can be a great way to meet or even go beyond the legal standards in your area limiting how much pollution your manufacturing process can emit. New technology is being researched all the time. Some of the methods available now include:
- Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers use heat already generated by your manufacturing process to destroy pollutants. Learn more about regenerative thermal oxidizers here.
- Catalytic Oxidizers use chemicals and extreme temperatures to separate pollutants into their individual compounds. Once they are separated, they can be safely released into the air.
- Wet Scrubbers can address both gaseous emissions and fine particulate matter.
- Rotary Concentrators spin pollutants at high speeds to separate them so that an oxidizer can destroy them.
Use Renewable Energy
Capturing and neutralizing pollution on an ongoing basis can be expensive. Switching to renewable energy sources might require a significant initial investment, but it will save you money and significantly reduce your VOC emissions in the long run. Wind and solar are the best choices with zero emissions, but they aren't the only alternatives to consider. Biomass and geothermal will both substantially reduce your carbon footprint and your VOC production. And, though it shouldn't be your first choice, natural gas still emits a great deal less than other fossil fuels.
Improve Your Efficiency
In many types of manufacturing, pollution isn't limited to smokestacks. Many products have VOCs that will off-gas from the product throughout its lifetime and beyond, in the landfill. Reducing your use of paints, solvents, and stains can help reduce pollution generated as fumes or from off-gassing. Sometimes this requires automation — robots can apply paints and stains very precisely. Other things to consider include increasing the efficiency of your mixing process and reducing the distance from your mixing area to your paint gun.
Use Non-Toxic Materials
The fewer toxins present in the materials that go into your manufacturing process, the fewer that will be emitted into the air. Reducing toxins is also good business. Consumers are increasingly interested in products that cause less harm to the environment and are safe for use by them and their families. These materials are good, safe options if your manufacturing process calls for something like them.