Every business needs to take its environmental responsibilities seriously but for those that dominate an industrial sector, monitoring a range of environmental legislation is essential. The ability to show that your business complies is not just a case of proving this to regulatory authorities but your customers too. Monitoring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) brings significant benefits.
These benefits include safer working conditions for your staff and operators, as well as cost savings and reduction of raw materials in the process of operation.
Who should monitor VOC emissions?
Any company that uses a range of products and materials that give off VOC will need to monitor emissions. There are several methods and techniques for monitoring VOC which can present confusion when it comes to choosing the most appropriate for your business.
Understanding VOCs, the legislation involved and the many different means of monitoring them are available to your business, factors this article aims to address. What’s more, VOC monitoring doesn’t have to be expensive and like other monitoring systems you have in place, the savings and benefits far outweigh the costs.
Benefits of Monitoring VOC Emissions
There are numerous reasons why companies monitor VOC emissions although the main purpose is to provide information and data as required by a regulator under the Environmental Permitting Regulations or EPR.
VOC monitoring can also help your business to;
- Quantify inefficiency – this type of monitoring can highlight inefficiencies in a production and logistical process
- Reduce costs through identifying solvent losses
- Identify and help to reduce solvent consumption
- Optimise the flow of work and production through your plant
- Avoid the installation of expensive equipment and process if they are not needed
- Demonstrate an on-going commitment to improving environmental performance
- Meet and exceed health and safety requirements through improving working conditions
- Identify several ways in which solvent costs and VOC emissions can be reduce as part of an overarching solvent management programme
VOC Monitoring Example
For example, a printing facility using the rotogravure process operates solvent recovery equipment as part of its printing process.
The solvent laden air is exhausted to banks of active carbon filters that absorb the volatile content of the gas. On a regular basis, the activated carbon is ‘desorb’ and the solvent recovered is recycled by being re-used as part of the printing process.
The solvent recovery process is usually a closed-loop one, meaning that the clean exhaust gas is routed back to the pressing hall or area via the cooling stage, allowing it to be re-used in the printing process.
There is also the option of running the system via an open loop. This means that the air is cleaned and then emitted into the atmosphere rather than re-used in the process. This is beneficial in terms of a cost cutting exercise as the exhaust gases don’t consume energy to be cooled.
Most companies employ environmental specialists that objectively examine both these scenarios and then offer advice based on their findings.
It is important to have this data and the findings will be able to show that by running the open-loop system, your company is not exceeding the limits of your EPR permit. The time needed to run the open-loop was also calculated so that the system was not run for longer than needed, again presenting a significant savings, but also preventing a mass release of VOCs.
Many companies are also concerned with their overall environmental performance too. Gathering and monitoring this data allows a company to demonstrate major environmental achievements, especially in the case of reducing VOCs on site. For some companies, this is a significant achievement, more so when you consider that production may have significantly increased.
Small changes, big benefits
Overall, simple engineering modifications dramatically reduce VOC emissions, presenting savings that were significant, above and beyond other solutions.
Visit Envirodat today to find out more.