Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Renfro


Industrial processes that utilize and release hazardous compounds into the atmosphere are required to break down those compounds before exhausting them from their facilities. An industry-recognized method to break down those hazardous compounds is through thermal oxidation. Thermal oxidation is a process where the compounds are exposed to their auto-ignition temperature in an oxygen-rich environment and combust. The output of thermal oxidation is carbon dioxide, water vapor, and heat. Thermal oxidizers are equipment that performs the thermal oxidation process. The heat output from thermal oxidizers is wasted if directly exhausted into the atmosphere. Regenerative thermal oxidizers (RTOs) use the waste heat to pre-heat incoming hazardous air streams to reduce fuel usage. However, exhaust still contains significant heat and is wasted.

This thesis explores how the waste heat from an RTO can be utilized and what existing technologies exist to utilize it. A case study of a contract pharmaceutical manufacturing company using an RTO is reviewed to provide a real-world example. This case study Plant has an economizer installed to capture the waste heat from their RTO to pre-heat boiler water. As a contract manufacturer, the waste heat from their RTO is cyclical with production, and the inconsistency presents difficulties with capturing the waste heat. Based on data provided by the Plant, the effectiveness of waste heat utilization is evaluated, recommendations for improvement on the current system are discussed, and other technologies that could alternatively be used are proffered.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)