Controlling Air Pollution and Volatile Organic Compounds in the Manufacture of Printed Circuit Boards

A major PCB manufacturer was seeking air pollution abatement equipment for control of VOCs released during the soldering and coating process. It was looking for a solution with a reasonable capital cost and very low operating cost. The requirement to deploy a compliant system as early as possible and the ability to engineer the system without affecting the sensitive production process were the other two major considerations for the customer.

The Action

After a thorough technical evaluation, the PCB manufacturer approached Anguil Environmental Systems, Inc. to provide a solution to the VOC emissions problem and to meet the compliance requirements. After examining the PCB manufacturer’s production process and related emissions, the solution suggested by Anguil was a 20,000 SCFM/32,000 Nm3/h Model 200 Regenerative Catalytic Oxidation (RCO) system (Figure 1), which helped the customer to achieve considerable savings in operating costs and satisfy all applicable compliance requirements.

Anguil’s Model 200 RCO System.

Figure 1. Anguil’s Model 200 RCO System.

Anguil’s Model 200 RCO System

RCO provides a combination of two established emission control technologies, which help customers to realize the lowest possible operating costs. As an efficient VOC control technology, catalytic oxidation oxidizes VOCs at low temperatures and lowers the high operating costs of direct-flame thermal oxidation. Regenerative thermal oxidation reduces operating costs by capturing the energy generated during oxidation. The regenerative catalytic oxidation is the combination of these two proven technologies, thus further improving fuel efficiency.

The Anguil Dual Bed Regenerative Catalytic Oxidizer heats up the VOC-laden process exhaust when it traverses the first ceramic media bed placed in an energy recovery chamber. From this energy recovery chamber, the process air transfers into a second recovery chamber. The airflow direction is switched by a flow-control valve, facilitating complete utilization of the energy transferred to the ceramic media in both energy recovery beds. This, in turn, minimizes the use of any auxiliary fuel.

Considering the high costs of auxiliary fuel (natural gas), the PCB manufacturer was impressed with the very low fuel consumption of the Anguil RCO. By lowering the VOC destruction temperature, the catalyst present in the RCO reaction chamber enables operation with lower fuel consumption when compared to Regenerative Thermal Oxidation systems. According to the operating cost calculations provided by Anguil, the catalyst cost can be fully recovered within 12 months of operation through the fuel savings of the RCO.

The next design consideration was the ability to design a system without affecting the PCB production process. Like other applications in the electronics industry, carefully controlled environments are essential for PCB production. The finely balanced production process and the quality of the final PCB product should not be affected by a pollution control system. For that reason, the RCO was equipped with a unique flow-control valve, which avoided any back-pressure to alter the exhaust airflow from the production process.

Satisfying the PCB manufacturer’s rigorous time frame was the final project consideration. From the beginning, Anguil worked in close cooperation with the customer to create an in-depth project management schedule. Anguil provided single source responsibility with the complete turnkey installation of the RCO. Anguil's experienced installation team installed the pre-assembled, pre-wired, and pre-tested system. Anguil ensured minimal downtime and proven emission compliance through rapid integration of the RCO into the plant's operations.

Conclusion

Anguil's application-specific method provides the most effective solution to the PCB manufacturer to address its specific needs. The Anguil Dual Bed Regenerative Catalytic Oxidizer is engineered to recover over 95% heat. Being a self-sustaining system, it does not require any auxiliary fuel even for low VOC loadings. With this efficient energy recovery, the Anguil RCO has very low operating costs when compared to other emission treatment techniques. The VOC destruction efficiency of the RCO well exceeds the required levels. The result is another satisfied client.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Anguil Environmental Systems.

For more information on this source, please visit Anguil Environmental Systems.

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