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Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association

ISSN: 0002-2470 (Print) (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uawm16

Industrial Odor Control

John Von Bergen

To cite this article: John Von Bergen (1958) Industrial Odor Control, Journal of the Air Pollution
Control Association, 8:2, 101-111, DOI: 10.1080/00966665.1958.10467834

To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00966665.1958.10467834

Published online: 19 Mar 2012.

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Industrial Odor Control3
Airkem, Inc.
New York City

Odors and fumes are the natural strict our discussion to this type of These summaries are significant.
by-product of many chemical manu- problem. Our industrial growth has resulted
facturing processes. in the production of great quantities
Up until a few years ago, odors FIRST STEP: ODOR SURVEY of products which were unknown at
were considered something inevitably the beginning of the 19th century.
present around many chemical plants. A survey of chief public officials Our automobiles alone pour 7 million
But recently a number of methods responsible for the control of air pol- tons of exhaust gases into the atmos-
have been developed for controlling lution in 67 major industrial cities phere daily. The chemical industry
or eliminating industrial odors. was conducted in 1955.(1) Tabulation has experienced a seven-fold increase
Most odors emanating from chem- of answers to the following specific in sales over the past 30 years, and
ical plants are not physically dan- questions was made: this growth is continuing at a phe-
gerous. But they have proved to be Q. Do you receive many com- nomenal rate.
psychologically dangerous. The fact plaints about odors either separate In spite of many other sources of
that they do not cause organic disease from or accompanying other forms air pollution, the fact remains that
is a difficult point to prove — par- of air pollution? many individuals continue to blame
ticularly when the surrounding com- chemicals in general for increased
munity, submerged in a disagreeable A. Many complaints were reported air pollution problems. It is inevi-
odor, has been aroused by unin- by 78% of the respondents. More table that control agencies will in-
formed rumors and misleading infor- than half of these judged that the crease the pressure for odorous air
mation. number of complaints were increas- pollution abatement as time goes on.
The new methods of odor control ing. Chemical engineers stand directly
have accomplished much in a short Q. Do you feel there is increasing in the path of this pressure buildup
time for the improvement of commun- public interest in odor problems in and the chemical industry has many
ity relations and plant employee mor- your community? serious odor problems for which it
ale. These factors, together with con- A. Yes 68% needs answers.
cern over depressed property values No 20%
due to odor, and the general discom- No answer 12% Remove Odor at Source?
fort of odorous areas, have all com- Q. Would you please indicate the
bined in opening the doors to an in- It is possible, of course, to control
sources of odors in your community odors by eliminating or reducing
telligent and logical approach to- at this time or in the past? (In order
wards this problem. their source. This may involve re-
of frequency of mention, here are the arranging or subdividing the mole-
Industrial odors are now recog- sources of odors. The figures refer cules of aldehydes, diamines such as
nized as a very definite part of the to the % of questionnaires in which putrescine and cadaverine, ethyla-
over-all air pollution picture. Chem- the source was cited.) mines, indoles including skatole, thio-
ical engineers concerned with the de- A. Chemicals 62% mides, hydrogen sulfide, ammonium
sign, supervision or administration Vehicles 52% sulfide, organic acids, phenols, cre-
of chemical plants should become Paint and varnish 49% sols, isocyanides or carbylamines, ke-
familiar with the latest methods and Food processing 47% tones, mercaptans, mercaptides meth-
techniques available for controlling Domestic (homes, etc.) 45% ylamines, thiocyanates and many
industrial odors. Rendering plants 43% other compounds discharged by chem-
Some odors are conveyed on liquid Plastics 33% ical process industries.
and solid particles. Filters, electrical Oil refineries 31% Specific treatments that can be ap-
precipitators, sonic flocculators, cy- Coke works 31% plied may fall in the classical chem-
clone scrubbers are available for re- Rubber 27% ical reactions: neutralization, acidifi-
moving these particles. (See Chem. Steel 25% cation, alkalization, oxidation, reduc-
Eng. Oct. 1953.) Most odors occur tion, hydrolysis, polymerization, etc.
in the gaseous phase and we will re- Insulation 21%
Fish 21% Improvements in process methods,
Gas works 19% equipment and housekeeping can re-
*Reprinted from Chemical Engineering, Pharmaceutical 19% duce the volume of exhausts.
August 1957. Copyright 1957, McGraw-
Hill Publishing Co., Inc., 330 West 42nd Soap and detergents 17% If the gaseous wastes of an indus-
Street, New York 36, New York. Breweries 15% trial process are known or can be pre-

of APCA 101 Vol. 8, No. 2

Effective Methods for Controlling Industrial Odors and meandering of gas plumes. This
work is helpful in understanding the
• Combustion basic problems of odor dispersion.
• Absorption
• Adsorption Set Up an Odor Jury
• Odor Masking
In appraisal of odor dispersion an
• Odor Counteraction odor jury is important. Although the
nose is a delicate instrument the phys-
iological and psychological reactions
Most Common Sources of Odor many times distort the perceptive im-
Fertilizer manufacturers
Fish wastes. Moncrieff(3) has mentioned these
Mercaptans, reduced sulfur compounds.
Spent acids. basic facts regarding human olfac-
Canners and food producers Products of nitrogen compound decomposi- tions:
Effluents and dumps. tion.
(1) All normal people can smell.
Effluents and dumps. Reduced sulfur compounds, caproic acids. (2) People suffering from brain
Pharmaceutical plants, breweries lesions, injured olfactory nerves or
Amines, reduced sulfur compounds.
Fermentation wastes. obstructed nasal passages may be
Petroleum refining Mercaptans, H2S, ammonia. anosmic (incapable of perceiving
Effluents, waste gases. odors).
Product of nitrogen compound decomposi-
(3) Cases of preferential anosmis
Dumps, lagoons, settling ponds. or ability to sense certain smells and
Chemical manufacturers Phenolics, sulfur compounds, formaldehyde, not others, do occur.
Resins, adhesives, rubber, paints, varnish solvents.
coatings, fats, oils, etc.
(4) Characteristic of an odor, as
Textile and paper Urea, starch decomposition products. well as the intensity, may change on
Dumps, settling ponds, lagoons. dilution.
(5) Sense of smell is rapidly
dieted with some assurance, their pos- •dinarily become an annoyance in the fatigued.
sible destruction may be ascertained complaining area. The problem of measuring psychol-
by: a study of the literature. There are many natural influences, ogical acceptability is a complicated
Actually, in most cases, analysis however, which arise to disturb this one. A fair number of persons, for
of chemical constitution of a com- • orderly dispersion. Wind flowing past long periods of time, continuously or
plex odor is a very difficult job. Al- a plant generates turbulence in the continually are beset by odors with-
most as troublesome as composition, wake of stacks and buildings. Tur- out the presence of the material or-
is the possibility of multiple odor bulent masses of odor above and be- dinarily causing such odors. Cases
sources. Also, a change in process is hind the buildings are brought down of illness or irritation make people
seldom practical or economical. to the ground in a spreading area. perceive or imagine odors that do not
This is termed downwash. Under exist.
To avoid neighborhood complaints these circumstances, concentrations of
and generally bad public relations odors may be very high in an area Although it has been stated that
the chemical engineer should explore close to the plant. one of the most dependable methods
an'ounce of prevention. This ounce If odor escapes the downwash sit- for ascertaining odor appraisals in
of prevention can take the form of a uation at the plant, it may flow down- air pollution work is a population sur-
careful study on plant odor offense wind and come under the adverse in- vey, this does not mean selecting a
possibilities in the surrounding neigh- fluence of terrain. Hills or valleys few residents who have made com-
borhood area. and bays and pockets may set up cur- plaints in the past. Some residents
rents which entrap the odors. Ther- have complained of odors three
mal influence in the atmosphere plays months after a plant has been shut
How to Appraise Odor down.
a large part in the over-all air move-
The atmosphere surrounding a ment. Under conditions of air in- In spite of this, all normal people
plant has great capacity for dispers- version, large quantities of odors are can perceive odors, and the most im-
ing odorous effluents. Favorable in- brought to the ground over a large portant method of gas analysis ever
fluences are stack height, gas velocity area and sometimes held for hours. employed is the sense of smell. Smell-
and gas temperature. Adverse in- Behavior pattern, dispersion and ing has some limitations, mostly
fluences are aerodynamic, terrain and diffusion, of plant odors is important quantitative, but has many advan-
meteorologic. . * to valid odor survey work. Sherlock tages over other means of analyses.
Under favorable weather condi- and Lesher(2) describe in detail con- Sampling is automatic. Analysis is
tions, odors from a plant will rise ditions of waste gas flow with light made and the results reported almost
gradually as they flow downwind. wind and strong wind under neutral instantly. And the apparatus (the'
Contaminants will disperse until only or stable atmosphere. In addition, nose) is nearly always in a position
a negligible concentration prevails in they describe the action of the gas to obtain the sample of greatest im-
the atmosphere. Under these con- plume under conditions of idealized mediate interest. No other present
ditions and conditions of actual ver- diffusion, thermal looping in an un- method of analysis is capable of dis-
tical dispersion, odors do not or- stable atmosphere, gustiness looping, tinguishing between, and correctly re-


porting, so large a variety of chemical are not necessarily required to dem- can be best obtained, the number of
substances by a single operation. onstrate unusual olfactory acuteness times the particular odor was noticed
or discrimination to qualify for a over a period of time, and the time
Some Principles of Odor panel. On the other hand, the ob- of day the odor was noticed. All of
A great deal of odor exploration servers should try to be objective in this material can be collected and
has been extended to the organic their opinions. Technically trained shown graphically in an excellent
series embracing aromatic hydrocar- laboratory personnel are excellent for method by Gruber.(4)
bons, alcohols, phenols, ethers, or- this reason. A careful survey, coupled with a
ganic acids, aldehydes, amines, ke- The jury requires a list of de- report on residential complaints, is
tones, ketals, halogen compounds, scriptive and easily identifiable terms the basis for de'ermining the most
nitrogen compounds, sulfur com- for a uniform description, of odor. practical method cf odor abatement.
pounds, paraffins, esters, and others. Most lay people attempting to de-
Sucn exploration involves saturation scribe an odor grope for words, as if METHODS OF ODOR CONTROL
ana unsaturation, open chains, closed they were talking a foreign language.
chains, straight chains and branched Odor memories are short and are Methods now commercially avail-
chains, isomerism, odor carriers, and susceptible to outside influences. If able for the control of odors from
odor extenders. . one has been told there is an odor of exhaust stacks may be divided into
The outstanding facts established dead fish from a certain plant because five general classifications: combus-
indicate that no single pattern of of failure, every odor from that plant tion, absorption, adsorption, odor
chemical structure serves to main- could smell like dead fish to the un- masking, and odor counteraction.
tain even a trend of properties. Com- trained observer. It might be pointed out here that
plexity of odor research, and for that A definite route for odor observa- the dilution and dispersion technique,
reason the value of using the expe- tions should be established based on where odor-containing gases are put
rience of the odor chemist, is indicat- sources of odor complaints in the through a high stack, does decrease
ed by a very few of the hundreds of past, wind directions and topograph- odor intensity. But this alone is not
principles that have been advanced ical situations. Each observer should a generally recommended practice for
by odor researchers. be equipped with a report form on odor control or elimination. It de-
The few principles listed below are which he can indicate wind direction pends too much on wind and atmos-
only an indication of the complex and velocity, location of observation, pheric conditions, which cannot be
problems involved.(7) time, suspected source, technical de- controlled or predicated.
• Compounds of different consti- scription, strength, and description of
tutions may have similar odors (cam- odor sensation. COMBUSTION METHODS
phor, silicononyl alcohol, durene).
• Compounds of very similar con- A rather simple scale for odor Fire is one of the oldest known
stitution may have different odors. component intensity follows: methods of odor destruction. It is
If, however, the constitutional dif- 0—no odor, or no odor of the not a method of odor control, how-
ferences are slight, odor differences designated component. ever, unless it is complete combus-
are generally correspondingly slight. 1—threshold level of the com- tion. Incomplete burning of nitro-
• Polymerisation reduces or de- ponent. genous and sulfurous organic mate-
stroys odor whether in elements (red 2—definite odor of the com- rial with the resultant pungent oxides
phosphorus) or in compounds (gly- ponent. of nitrogen and sulfur is not the ideal
cols). • 3—strong odor of the com- conclusion to an odor destruction
• Unsaturation enhances odor but ponent. process.
does not initiate it (paraffins are 4—overpowering odor of the Partial combustion may be worse
odorous). component. than no combustion — evidenced by
• In the paraffins, straight and This scale is readily memorized incinerators or the incomplete com-
branched-chain isomers have similar and does not require frequent ref- bustion in diesel and internal com-
odors. erence to a descriptive intensity scale. bustion engines which yield the irri-
• In a homologous series the odor It is also convenient for half-scores tating and sickening aldehydes, with
will rise to a maximum as we ascend when the observer is in doubt as to formaldehyde as the principal in-
the series and will then fall off owing intensity level. For comparative pur- gredient in this group.
to decreased volatility. poses, most observation runs should From a theoretical standpoint, if
• Unsaturation often introduces be at approximately the same time of complete oxidation of odors in the
an irritant note to the odor particu- the day. Usually, the best time for air can be obtained, deodorization is
larly if close to a polar group (ali- observation is in the evening when obtained because the final products
phatic aldehydes and acids). air inversion occurs and most resi- are odorless (H2O, CO2) or have a
• A tertiary carbon atom will fre- dents are at home. The evaluations higher odor threshold than the prod-
quently induce a camphoraceous may continue until midnight, and ucts consumed. For example:
odor. some observations should be made Butanol — Mild odor
in the early morning hours.
• Osmophoric influence of the
phenyl group is strong. It over- Although it is not advisable to j
comes that of alkyl-ether groups and make surveys of the opinions of resi- Butyraldehyde — Bad odor
also of the amino group.
Rating Systems Are Helpful
dents, complaints initiated by resi-
dents become an important part of
the survey, assuming the complaint
I °2
Butyric acid — Very bad odor
To obtain valid surveys it is im-
portant to have at least seven persons
is valid. All complaints should be
listed as to date, exact location, length I o2
included in an odor jury. Observers of residence, description of odors as , CO 2 -f- H 2 O — Odorless

of APCA 103 Vol. 8, No. 2

Fuel gas

Odorous f
fumes A

Return fumes preheat incoming fumes

Catalyst^ Insulated box

(Pt oxide + nifikel wire) with dampers—

Courtesy Catalytic Combustion Corporation Fig. I. Catalytic fume combustion unit.

Considerable progress has been ganic compounds containing sulphur, on porcelain rods or platinum alloy
made in an attempt to reach com- catalytic combustion operating at coating on nichrome wire.
plete deodorization by use of cata- temperatures below 675°F. or above
lytic burners, particularly in elimi- l,250°F. will convert sulphur to sul- Odorous air, passed through a
nating odors from fats, oils and fatty phur dioxide — less offensive and less catalytic device, may be oxidized at
acid processes. The only limitation dangerous than many of the original temperatures 500-800°F. lower than
of a catalytic burner is that the com- substances as long as the dispersal required by uncatalyzed incineration.
bustible substance introduced into the level is well below the maximum per- A major contribution offered by cat-
alytic combustion is the considerable
burner must be in the vapor phase or missible level in the neighborhood.(5) lowering of the firing temperature,
must be vaporizable at a reasonable General rules for organic com-
temperature. Noncombustible inor- with resultant saving of energy for
pounds containing nitrogen are dif- heating air, and capital equipment
ganic solvents are not affected by a ficult. The effluent may contain free
catalyst and should be absent from costs for heating capacity.
nitrogen or its oxides depending on
the air stream. the conditions of operation. Reduc- Some combustion processes may
As to complete oxidation, it must tion of nitrogen oxides will, of operate without an outside energy
yield innocuous products in order to course, release free nitrogen. source, except for that required to
serve the purpose of odorous air pol- reach the firing temperature. Or with
lution control. In the compounds of Catalysts Lower Temperature smaller fuel requirements, where such
carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which Use of catalysts to aid combustion operation would normally have been
cover a wide field, this is true. In is illustrated by the design of plati- economically unfeasible in uncatal-
the case of hydrogen sulphide or or- num alloy activated alumina coating yzed incineration (Fig. 1).
TABLE I* Temperature for effective combus*
tion deodorization depends to a great
HEAT CONTENT OF MAJOR OXIDIZABLE POLLUTANTS IN AIR degree on the chemical nature of the
vapor to be oxidized and on concen-
Bcisis Heat Content of Air Temp. tration in the inlet stream. Self-
Mixture, Btu./cu. ft. Rise,F. a sustaining catalytic combustion is at-
tainable normally in concentration
Pollens, bacteria, dust, ranges of 15-20% of the lower ex-
fibers, smokes •

plosive limit. When the concentra?

200 mg./cu. m. 8,000 Btu./dry lb. 0.099 . 5.5 tion falls below 5% of the lower ex-
Carbon monoxide plosive limit, operation of catalytic
1,000 ppm. 321.8 Btu./cu. ft. 0.322 18
3.15 vol. %, Yi LFL" 321.8 Btu./cu. ft. 10.16 565
combustion becomes more costly be-
Hexane (normal)
cause of the decreased heat content
100 ppm. 4,412 Btu./cu. ft. 0.441 25.5
and increased firing temperature (see
0.315 vol. % Vx LFL> 4,412 Btu./cu. ft. 13.90 770 Table I ) .
0.63 vol. %, % LFL* 4,412 Btu./cu. ft. 27.80 1,540
Hydrogen sulfide
In order to achieve maximum bene-
1,000 ppm. 596 Btu./cu. ft. 0.596 33 fits, engineering design under the
1.08 vol. %, % LFL" 596 Btu./cu. ft. 6.44 357 guidance of catalytic reaction ex-
perts, is very important in the appli-
»W. R. Calvert, Catalysts at Work Eliminatinc Air Pollutants. Proc. 49th APCA*Annual Meeting. Buffalo, cation of catalytic processes. Each
N. Y. May 20-4, 1956. . •
(a) 100% catalytic reaction (no heat loss).'
process must be studied in relation to
(b) Lower flammability limit. stream temperature; variability of


the concentration of oxidizables; vol- ceous material by incomplete combus- on better public relations and the
ume and space rate of the stream tion of some contaminant or by me- avoidance of nuisance complaints in
through the catalyst; oxygen content chanical adherence of particulate ma- the surrounding residential area.
of the stream; attrition and the effects terial. Since air dilution of stack exhausts
of the loading of the catalyst with in- • Mechanical loss of the catalyst has long been used to avoid neighbor-
organic matter. by abrasion. hood complaints, it is possible that re-
As with any other process used in consideration and redesign of ven-
air- pollution control, there are cost Specific catalytic poisons are va- tilation equipment to include employ-
considerations which must be pors of pure metal, such as mercury, ment of catalytic oxidation rather
weighed against benefits achieved. arsenic, zinc, lead, etc. These quickly than air dilution can result in:
The most readily accepted catalytic stop catalytic action by permanently
depositing on the active catalyst. Oc- • Savings in heating fuel and air
processes are those which yield usable conditioning costs.
heat with the possibility of writing currence of high concentration of
off the investment with heat savings. these substances is relatively rare in • A supply of heat from the catal-
Heat transfer may be used to bring air pollution control problems. ytic oxidation, which can further re-
the stream of waste effluents to a For air free from particles and duce heating costs in addition to the
satisfactory firing temperature level. metal containing vapors, a long catal- primary objective of the elimination
After once starting the catalytic pro- yst life may be realized. Some in- of odorous organic air pollutants.
cess, product heat can be recirculated stallations are reported to have given
over 23,000 hr. of service without A great deal of heat value can be
or used to heat the incoming stream. recovered for high concentrations of
Where fuel must be used to heat a catalyst regeneration.(6)
combustibles which are safely below
stream to a level necessary for sus- the lower flammability limits.
taining the catalytic reaction, limiting Recovery of Heat Values
cost becomes the cost of heating the
entering stream less the value of heat A pilot run, before installing full-
scale equipment should be made, un- Steps to Follow in Combustion
leaving the catalytic process.
Variability and concentration of less it can be definitely ascertained
by other means that serious attrition An approach to removal of odors
oxidizable material must be con- by catalytic combustion would in-
trolled in the catalytic process. Since or replacement factors are not in-
volved. volve the following steps:
the process depends on concentration
level, upper and lower limits must be As shown in the table, cleanup of • An analysis of stack gases and
accommodated. low concentrations of combustibles other exhausts to determine charac-
will require additional energy. In teristics and quantity of odorous
A concentration too low requires elements.
that the stream be preheated; a high terms of heat, energy recovery will
concentration requires dilution. be negligible considering the cost. • A determination of those ele-
Where the limiting concentrations are Benefits and advantages will depend ments oxidizable in air and the heat
of brief (a few minutes) duration,
the heat retaining capacity of the
porcelain supported catalyst auto-
matically adjusts to accommodate the
variation. Oxygen content of the
stream need only be sufficiently in
excess of the stoichiometric require-
ments to assure adequate distribu-
tion of oxygen to the catalyst.

Prolong Catalyst Life

Particulates of inorganic materials
may not be a problem when velocities
are low. Where the inorganic par-
ticulates have an abrasive or attrition
effect upon the catalyst, the catalyst
life is shortened. Where the inor-
ganic particulates fuse readily or are
in extremely high quantity, then the
catalyst might become heavily loaded
with this material and the catalyst
life consequently shortened.
Loss of catalyst activity, which de-
termines catalyst life and hence equip-
ment maintenance cost, is related to
three major factors:
« Presence of catalyst poisons
(such as metallic or organometallic
vapors) in the odorous air.
• Obstruction of the catalyst sur-
face either by deposit of carbona- Fig. 2. Catalytic burners (nat. gas) eliminate odor at Reichold.

of APCA 105 Vol. 8, No. 2

content per cu. ft., based on concen- interface (around the outside of the tem may answer the need for further
tration. droplets). For example, ammonia, treatment once the offensive odors
• Estimates from a competent highly soluble in water, is readily have been collected and condensed in
manufacturer of catalytic burners on absorbed by spraying water through the wash water.
the cost of installation, life expect- a chamber containing ammonia gas. On the other hand the possibility
ancy of the unit, maintenance and On the other hand for relatively in- that dissolved gases may later escape
efficiency in heat recovery and ex- soluble gases (many odorous organic into the air and create an odor nuis-
change. compounds if water is a solvent) the ance at open manholes or at the
• Preparation of cost analysis on reverse would be true. Resistance of sewage plant itself should not be
the basis of calculated costs of opera- the liquid film at the interface be- overlooked. Care must be taken that
tion, including investment vs. usable tween liquid and gas controls rate waste scrubbing solutions do not meet
energy returns. Comparison of this of absorption. To minimize resis- other solutions which will react and
method with the appraisal costs of tance, it is usually recommended that release the odor creating compounds
other methods of odor removal, tak- the gas be bubbled through the liquid to the atmosphere.
ing into consideration advantages and to obtain good turbulence in the
liquid phase and facilitate gas absorp- Also, remember when physical solu-
disadvantages of each method of op- tion, without chemical reaction is in-
eration which might affect your situa- tion. For this reason spray washers
or scrubbers have considerable dif- volved in absorption methods, par-
tion. tial pressure of the odorous gas in
ficulty in absorbing low concentra-
• If the catalytic combustion meth- tions of some gases.(7) equilibrium with the solution of such
od appears to be the best solution, ar- gas is a limiting factor. For all prac-
range for pilot-plant installation and tical purposes deodorization by phys-
ascertain the reliability of all esti- Commercially Available Equipment ical absorption is never a process
mates involved, in addition to observ- which removes all odors. (6)
Hundreds of methods have been
ing the pilot burner exhaust for odor- devised to maintain air-liquid dis- In most cases use of washing equip-
ous content. persal contact. ment is suitable for the removal of
particulate material (although not as
Increase in contact time or in the effective as electrostatic precipita-
ABSORPTION METHODS number of separate times the air tors).
encounters the spray zone greatly
Where odorous vapors are soluble assists the absorption of vapor but
or emulsifiable in a liquid, with or performs an operation of diminish- Steps to Follow in Absorption
without chemical reaction, absorption ing utility. Methods used vary from
methods may be suitable for odor the simple vertical spray towers in Chemical engineers should take the
control. single or multiple stages; the cascade following steps in considering wash-
Absorption is a word not without vertical tower; towers packed with ing, condensing, or scrubbing meth-
its confusing implications. It applies partition rings, Raschig rings, spiral ods.
to a more or less uniform penetra- rings, Berl saddles, hollow balls, heli-
tion of the absorbent by gas mole- cal packers, hexahelix blocks, double • Devise a laboratory scrubber
cules and is not a concept 'restricted spiral cyclohelix blocks, prismic pack- and analyze the chemicals discharged
to liquid absorbents. In this discus- ings; centrifugal or cyclone scrub- into the waste water. Calculate the
sion however, we will limit the dis- bers ; bubble and sieve trays, etc. An total chemical sewage effluent from
cussion of absorption to the conven- efficient scrubber (Fig. 3) uses a any plant operation, including the ex-
tional process using liquid absorb- perforated sheet designed with a lay- haust stack wash per day or month.
ents. er of impingement baffles above the
sheet. Gas stream enters the liquid • Prepare samples of the chemical
The fundamental forces of inter- phase through the sheet and impinges sewage discharge and take them to
phase diffusion that govern the ab- against the baffle. the local sewage plant operator or
sorption process are fairly well state stream pollution officials if the
known. Equilibrium data, determina- Height of an absorption tower in- discharge is into a river or stream.
tion of number of stages, diameter, creases its efficiency, while cross- If the discharge is acceptable to.local
limiting velocity, are all covered in section determines air capacity. or state officials, get assurance (in
standard texts such as Perry, Sher- writing if possible) that the discharge
wood, Brown or Badger and McCabe. can be made during the reasonable
Liquids Other Than Water lifetime of the proposed equipment.
On the other hand specific, exact Many equipment manufacturers will
knowledge in the field is not com- In all types of air washers it is
possible to modify the solvent. Neu- supply pilot or laboratory equipment
prehensive. One of the most trouble- which duplicate the essentials of their
some applications is the removal of tralization of acidic odorents with
sodium carbonate, dimethylamine, designed equipment. Run a careful
extremely small quantities of air con- check on costs of operation, corrosion
taminants that create odor nuisance. ethanolamines or oxidation with per-
manganate, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, conditions, auxiliary pumping equip-
According to one concept, if a gas is ment, air handling capacity and re-
highly soluble in liquid, then its dif- ozone, is often effective.
quired auxiliary equipment for sup-
fusion in the liquid from the surface However, liquid other than water plying exhaust movement.
is relatively easy. This would in- may require expensive corrosion-
dicate that resistance to absorption resistant materials and possibly neu- • The odor evaluation of a washed
may be minimized by spraying the tralization or stabilization of the exhaust is difficult to appraise in a
liquid through the gas, causing good waste water before discharged to the laboratory or plant area due to the
turbulence on the gaseous side of the sewer. Discharge to a sewage sys- presence of plant odors. For this


&>• Ccla, cleon,
"Hot; flirtv


-Aater *.- ccustic solution

bcffic piote

'A'jtc y -"'L-iidif cst ion

Fig. 3. Odor control by absorption

iypicrii scrubb' rs.
Engineering Corporation

reason final tests should be made in ents retain water in preference to carbon is saturated, odor will con-
an odor-free room and by odor ob- most other vapors and therefore are tinue to carry through the filters.
servers not conditioned to normal incapable of adsorbing non-polar or
plant odors. weakly polar gases (most organic va- Service Life of Adsorbents
pors) selectivity from a moist at-
• If satisfactory results are ob- mosphere. Service life of an adsorption sys-
tained, compare an investment and tem, using activated carbon, for pur-
operating appraisal with other meth- Activated carbon is electrically poses of replacement may be com-
ods of odor removal. non-polar and consequently capable puted from the following formula
of preferential adsorption of organic (Fig. 4 ) .
material. Previously adsorbed mois-
ADSORPTION METHODS ture will be displaced from the car- Time of service life (hr.) —
bon surface as organic acids and •6.43(10) *SW
Adsorption is the phenomena of vapors are adsorbed.(6) eQrMCv
surface attractions universal with all An advantage of using activated Where S — ultimate proportionate
substances. In theory it is agreed carbon is it adsorbs all types of odors saturation of carbon or fractional
that adsorbed molecules do not pene- under almost any condition. It can retentivity; W = weight of carbon
trate the atomic or molecular con- be used without making a careful (lb.); e = fractional adsorption effi-
struction of the adsorbent. analysis of odor content. Properties ciency; Qr — cfm. of air processed
In adsorption there is interaction of gases and vapors hand their reten- by adsorption equipment; M = aver-
between the solid and gas. The bond tivity by activated carbon are avail- age . molecular weight of contamina-
may be broken by moderate elevation able. <8> tion; Cv = ppm. of contaminants.
of temperature to drive off the chem- Equipment selection generally de-
ically unaltered absorbate. This is The following are the properties
physical adsorption rather than chem- pends on requirements for total ca- of some atmospheric contaminants:
ical adsorption (this discussion does pacity, allowable pressure drop and
space requirements. Over-all adsorp- Odor
not include capillary attraction). Mol. Retentivity Threshold
tion efficiency of activated carbon is
Wgt., M" S Cone, ppm.
Control of atmospheric odors by practically 100% for vapors having
adsorption methods is for all prac- a high retentivity value and remains Acrolein 56 0:15 1.8
tical purposes limited to the use of so until the amount of material ad- (heated fats)
activated carbon as adsorbent. Metal- sorbed is about two-thirds of the Hexane 86 0.16 Almost
lic oxide, siliceous and active earth retentivity figure independent of odorless
type adsorbents are electrically polar moisture. Care must be used in re- Phenol 94 0.30 0.28
and have strong attraction for water, placing the activated carbon filters Valeric acid 102 0.35 0.00062
which is highly polar. Polar adsorb- prior to the saturation point. Once 1
(body odor)

of APCA 107 Vol. 8, No. 2

15,000 Odor threshold 0.00062 ppm Many odor nuisances tall into sim-
valeric acid ilar patterns for similar operations in
14,000- the same industry; odors from a sul-
phate pulp mill, from rayon process-
,: 12,000- ing, asphalt blowing and many of the
chemical processes. In many cases,
where the basic character of the op-
eration is known, a sample of the
odor effluent is not necessary to es-
Odor tablish a suitable odor masking or
threshold modification compound.
In spite of the fact that all normal
people can perceive odors and many
Odor people find some odors agreeable,
threshold odor masking (and in its turn, odor
acrolein counteraction) is not a field for ama-
teur experimentation.
People suffering from brain lesions,
injured olfactory nerves or obstructed
nasal passages may be anosmic. Sub-
stances of different chemical consti-
O.I 0.15 I 0,2 { 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.7 1 2 tution may have similar odors. Qual-
Concentration, ppm. ity, as well as the strength of the
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 odor, may change on dilution. The
Reciprocal concentration, ppm:1 sense of smell is rapidly fatigued.
Fig. 4. Life of carbon adsorption equipment Fatigue for one odor will not affect
the perception of other dissimilar
odors but may interfere with the per-
With heavier molecular weights, has not been stressed in current ception of similar odors.
when concentration exceeds about 2 literature.
to 5 ppm. of air stream, service life Formulation of a preferred odor
A great number of industrial plant control medium requires a great deal
of activated carbon is greatly dimin- stack exhausts emit odors in quan-
ished. This calls for frequent reac- of delicate osmic analysis and tech-
tities between these two ranges. In nical know-how. Completed formula-
tivations and correspondingly high this area consideration should be
operating cost. tion must include, in addition to max-
given to odor masking and odor imum odor strength and optimum
counteraction. odor quality, special properties of
chemical stability, lasting power and
Equipment Used With Carbon ODOR MASKING METHODS physical form.
One satisfactory arrangement for Odor masking is the process of
activated carbon is in small cylindri- eliminating the perception of one
cal canisters where 6-14 mesh carbon odor or a group of odors by super- How to Apply Compounds .
is held between concentric perforated imposing another odor or a group
of odors to create a new odor sen- In comparison with the laboratory
cylinders. Each canister holds %• experience required to formulate
1% 1b. of carbon and each can han- sation, preferably pleasant.
odor masking compounds, applica-
dle 25-35 cfm. of air. A number of Odor control chemicals used for tion is relatively simple and does not
canisters are placed in a manifold. masking purposes are those aromatic require excessive capital investment.
For large air flows, carbon is held in chemicals and their byproducts which
thin beds between screens or per- are derived chiefly from synthetic For certain processes, such as di-
forated sheets of metal. Air must be aromatic chemical manufacture. A gester operation in the kraft sulphate
reasonably free of solid and liquid masking agent does not alter the process, or cooking meat scraps and
particles. composition of pre-existing odor. bones in rendering plants, odor mask-
When superimposed it is selected by ing compounds are added directly to
Carbon canisters have proved suc- the nasal perception apparatus as the cook. This method of treatment
cessful in preventing the escape of a long as there is sufficient presence of requires no investment in mechanical
tenacious garlic-sulfide stench in a the masking odor in the air stream. equipment, although the trend is to-
pharmaceutical plant. Installation ward adding the masking compounds
consists of 503 canisters each with Organic odor control chemicals are
numerous. Each type differs, since automatically with proportioning
1.5 lb. carbon, handling 12,000 cfm. pumps. Concentrations may range
Carbon is reactivated every six some may be malodorous and others
sweet or sour, fresh or musty. Ex- from 10 to 50 ppm. based on the
months. weight of the process charge under
amples are vanillin, methyl ionones,
It has been observed by Turk (6) eugenols, benzyl acetate, phenylethyl, treatment.
that the upper practical range for ac- alcohol, heliotropin. Only by select- Odor masks may also be applied
tivated carbon application (2 to 5 ed manufacture and measurement is by air or pressure atomization
ppm.) is far below the lower practical it possible to obtain an odor control (through properly designed spray
range for catalytic combustion (1,- chemical suited to a particular mask- nozzles) of a dilute dispersion of the
000-1,500 ppm.) and that this void ing or odorization problem. material into the stack from which


malodors are normally discharged • Do not attempt to formulate versions, topography and wind move-
(Fig. 5). If the odor masking agent masking compounds unless you have ments. Care should be used in build-
is water soluble it can be diluted with had considerable and lengthy expe- ing up to the required concentration,
water to most practical dilutions, us- rience in odor chemistry. since an excess may result in com-
ually 1 to 5%. Injection is usually plaints in the surrounding area re-
at a point well below the top of the • Establish quantities of material garding new odors.
stack to assure good mixing with the used in process, particularly the odor-
effluent vapors. ous materials, and temperatures of
process and stack effluent. Call in a ODOR COUNTERACTION
An oil-base masking agent may be competent manufacturer of masking METHODS
sprinkled along the shoreline of a compounds and disclose as much in-
lagoon or poured on the liquid sur- Zwaademaker was probably the
formation regarding the process as is first odor researcher to study the
face of the lagoon where it will spread permissible. Have him observe the
most readily. Normal evaporation counteracting effect of two dissimilar
malodors from the stack exhaust and odors. (10>
unjder the heat of the sun vaporizes in the surrounding area.
the mask continuously along the en- The principle of odor counterac-
tire area. • If the masking compound is to tion is separate and distinct from the
be used as an additive, establish in psychological effect of odor masking.
the laboratory that the addition has In odor masking strong odors tend
Pros and Cons of Masking no effect on the process. If the mask- to mask weaker ones. If the two
ing compound is to be applied to the odors are of about equal strength a
Masking compounds should never stack exhaust, it is advisable to per- blend of the two is observed and both
be used to mask or cover up a toxic form a laboratory or pilot-plant ex- can be identified. If one is consider-
concentration of gas. Many odorous periment with the product to estab- ably stronger than the other, it alone
compounds such as hydrogen sul- lish ratios which will not result in as a rule, is perceived.
phide are highly toxic and non-recog- an intense effluent. Determine that In odor counteraction certain pairs
nition of the odor in sufficient con- an offensive conclusion might not re- of odors in appropriate relative con-
centration may be fatal. sult in the final combination as a con- centrations are antagonistic. When
Advantages of the use of masking sequence of odor incompatibility. the two are sniffed together both
agents are minimum or no capital in- • Install equipment as prescribed odors are diminished. Various pairs
vestment required for equipment; by the masking compound manufac- of counteracting odorous substances
ease of application; relatively low turer. This is ordinarily a simple in- were recorded by Zwaademaker in
cost in comparison with mechanical stallation that can be made by plant 1895. He used a device to individual-
equipment; immediate availability personnel and usually involves only ly introduce into either nostril odor-
for known odor nuisances. a source of air and a calibrated spray ous substances in a ratio of quantities
nozzle. required for counteraction.
Extreme care must used in hand-
ling. Spillage or contact on hands or Many other workers, including
• By means of an odor jury Moncrieff and Bachman, have made
clothing may create objectionable make area surveys over a period of
odor concentrations. Even pleasant similar studies in which it was pos-
several days. Take into considera- sible to compensate the olfactory ef-
odors may be objectionable in high tion known factors regarding air in-
concentrations. For this reason ap- fects of various chemicals to a point
plication of odor masking compounds
must not be so great in quantity that
the resultant combination may itself Stack No. 7 Stack No.Q Stack No.9
be objectionable. 140,000 cfm. 140,000 cfm. l70,000cfm
Odorimetric methods for determin-
ation of odor strength of odorous
chemicals have been described and
the expressions of Scent Unit, Scent
Value, Cent-Scent Value established.
A method for determining masking
strength is explained by Tremain. (9)

Control Via Odor Masking

In preparation for odor masking
control take these basic steps:
• Make an analysis of the toxic
materials or lack of toxic materials
in ppm. and total''cfm. from stack
exhausts. Check with the local pub-
lic health officials or air pollution
officers to determine whether dispers- 6.7gph.
al of these materials is well below Chain driven s h a f t
the minimum permissible level in the
surrounding area. [ Fig. 5. How to inject odor masking compounds.

of APCA JQ9 Vol. 8, No. 2

of total odor disappearance or sig- fras, wintergreen, citronella, pine, How Does Counteraction Work?
nificantly close to the point of total lavender and other compounds were
odor disappearance. It is a known not satisfactory. Commercial use of Odor counteraction deals with
fact that in the group benzene, tolu- odor counteraction thus developed in molecules of odor. For practical pur-
ene, xylene, pseudocumene and dur- this field. Since air freshness was de- poses an odor is always a gas molec-
ene, combinations in the correct pro- sired, instead of recognizable specific ularly dispersed in air in sufficient
portions from this group can be pro- odor types, odor counteraction with a concentration to be above the thresh-
duced which are almost odorless. sense of fresh air was developed by old level of perception. For this
Many materials are thus available for introducing traces of the chemicals reason odor counteractants are most
odor counteraction, including the es- found in outdoor plant-life areas effective when vaporized and com-
sential oils. (chlorophyll). This work was ex- bined with the air stream by molec-
tended to the industrial odor control ular dispersion.
Odor counteraction, as developed
to date, is based on significant work field. Stream exhaust can be held to the
done by early experimenters. De- Although an industrial process may ground by air inversion, vertically
velopment . of odor counteractants is be simple, industrial odors coming dispersed, or horizontally dispersed.
a pure matter of Edisonian research from the process may be a complex But the odor counteractant is carried
and many years have been spent in group of odors. It is unusual to ob- with a malodor and is noticeably ef-
this delicate work by competent odor tain a specific odor from an indus- fective until the odor is dispersed be-
researchers. trial process stack. Even when this yond the range of perceptibility.
is the case the odor may combine
Impetus Comes From Air with transient odors in the surround- Applying Counteraction Compounds
Conditioning ing atmosphere. For this reason in-
dustrial odor counteractant formula- Odor counteraction is particularly
Odor counteraction was first ap- tions, although designed for specific effective against multiple odor
plied in the air conditioning industry. odor descriptions, may contain com- sources. There may be literally hun-
Household products such as oil cloth plex groups of odor counteractants. dreds of sources of odors within a
and rubber, polishes, wax, paints, plant proper: main stack, ventila-
inks and insecticides are all antisocial There is no chemical method
known for the determination of the tion of process areas, vents from stor-
from an odorous standpoint. age tanks and chests, spillage areas,
effectiveness of odor counteractants.
The air conditioning industry, in Effectiveness can be determined by wet walls, stock piles, all contribute
a combined attempt to improve at- actual odor perception. In the last to the total industrial odor load.
mospheric control, was faced with a analysis this is the criteria for the Odors from this source expand by
serious problem. Attempts to dom- effectiveness of any odor abatement molecular dispersion in a rough range
inate these odors by the use of sassa- method. from 5 to 1 until the odorous pool is
taken over by general air movement.
Further dispersal, mixing and dilu-
tion, takes place during the variable
Odor counteractant air movements until the characteristic
odor of the plant is perceived in the
complaining area.
3/8*' galv. pipe Air gun- Odor counteractants are vaporized
liquid line or - by atomizing the counteractant into
tygon tubing the air movement or stream by means
of a calibrated atomizing nozzle.
Compressed air These vaporizing points are usually
located in or near the stack exhausts
but may also be located at the plant
roof top and in the vicinity of most
odorous effluents (Fig. 6). This pro-
. % galv. pipe
air line or vides vertical coverage from the bot-
airhose tom to the top of the odorous pool
leaving the plant.
Counteractants mix with the odor-
ous air stream by molecular disper-
Counteractant sion and air movements and are de-
storage drum signed to follow the physical be-
havior pattern of the odorous ele-
ments. Some odorous elements dis-
perse beyond the limits of perceptibil-
ity rapidly, others are tenacious and
Compressed _=?=? do not disperse horizontally or ver-
air tically as quickly thus creating spe-
'6 cial control problems.
50gai. "Odor source
Odorous discharge from kraft sul-
phate pulp mills, probably due to
Fig. 6. How to inject odor counteractants. some microscopic particulate forma-


tion, continue to travel and vaporize tion. Any odor counteractant used SUMMARY OF ODOR PROBLEM
for miles. Specific odor counter- in industrial work areas or industrial
aotants have been designed to follow stacks for the control of atmospheric Air pollution problems are given
these physical dispersal patterns. odor pollution should be nontoxic, more attention in the public press
nonallergenic, nonflammable, non- every day. AH of the control meth-
Vaporization of a liquid odor ods discussed here for odor have
ouunteractant is accomplished by corrosive, chemically inactive, econ-
omically feasible and should be ef- proved successful in the field. But
clean compressed air (approximately each problem is specific and unusual.
2 cfm./gun). The liquid odor coun- fective in the laboratory and in the
field. It is difficult, therefore, to make gen-
teractant is stored in a pressure drum eral cost comparisons between the
at a convenient location and fed Odor counteractants cannot be used methods. Each, taking advantages
through small connecting lines to the for the control of paniculate mate- and disadvantages into account,
vaporizing nozzles by air pressure. rial. In extreme examples, where the should be considered for any prob-
Operation is automatic and once air-borne waste of an industrial pro- lem.
the installation is set up and balanced cess may contain dust, fume, condens-
able vapors and uncondensable gases, The Air Pollution Control Assn.
requires little maintenance except for with headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa.,
weekly filling of the pressure contain- entrained material should be scrubbed
to remove dust and soluble or con- has taken a leading part in the battle
ers. Odorous sources vaporizing at for clean air. The association is
a continuous rate are treated contin- densable vapors; then passed through
an electrostatic precipitator to cap- made up of control officials, govern-
uously. The intermittent operation mental agents, industrial groups, re-
of relief valves may be treated dur- ture fume and mist particles too small
to be retained in the condenser or search groups, educational groups,
ing the blow off by automatic valves and others including many interna-
which operate according to the time scrubber; and finally treated by odor
counteraotants to reduce the highly tional representatives. Its major pur-
of blow off. Equipment is easy to pose is to accumulate and disseminate
install and no alterations are required offensive character of insoluble non-
condensable molecules. information regarding air pollution
to process equipment. No down time control. Through its association
is required for installation. meetings, held throughout the coun-
Applying Odor Counteraction try, valuable information regarding
Counteraction: No Cure-Ail Procedure for getting the best re- the realistic approach to the air pol-
sults with odor counteraction is as lution problem is disseminated and
Since there is no chemical effect on discussed. The APCA also distributes
the odorous effluent, odor counteract- follows: a monthly abstract of current liter-
ants should not be used in combina- • Determine whether present stack ature and a journal of proceedings.
tion with highly toxic materials un- effluent is well within the local health
less the dispersal rate is well below or air pollution control requirements
the maximum permissible level. Gen- for emission of particulate material
eral method of application has the and toxic gases. Determine cfm. of References
important practical advantages of all stack exhaust gases. Approximate
very little initial equipment costs, intensity of odorous effluent on a per- 1. Pendray & Co., N.Y.C., "Opinion Sur-
negligible space requirements, and centage scale for each source. Ex- vey on Odors & Fumes as Air Pollution
greater freedom from the necessity of amine the plant for odorous ventilat- Problems," Mar. 29, 1955.
confining the atmosphere into a close ing areas, wet walls, work areas, and
space for treatment. 2. R. H. Sherlock and E. J. Lesher. Air
stockpiles. Repair 4, 13-22 (Aug. 1954).
There is no universal odor counter-
actant. Odor counteraction formulas • Arrange for an odor appraisal 3. R. W. Moncrief. The Chemical
survey to be made by an odor coun- Senses. 2nd ed., chapter XII, London,
are designed for specific groups of Leonard Hill, Ltd. (1951).
odors. Odor counteraction installa- teraction specialist. If the odorous
tions should be made by a specialist effluent can be reasonably handled, a 4. C. W. Gruber. Odor Pollution From
who can discriminate between odors cost estimate may be in order. Al- The Official's Viewpoint. American Society
though separate plant processes may for Testing Materials, Philadelphia, Pa.,
and estimate the intensity of concen- preprint No. 105A (1954).
trations involved in the problem. be nearly identical, area difference,
topography and temperament of the 5. H. R. Suter. Range of Applicability
Although it is rather easy for the complaining area might require treat- of Catalytic Fume Burners. /. Air Poll.
trained odor expert to identify char- ments which differ in cost. In either Control. Assoc. 5, 174-5, 184 (Nov. 1955).
acteristic odors, it is necessary in case cost of installation is negligible.
some cases to decrease or increase an 6. A. Turk. Odor Control Methods: A
A full plant run may Be made for a Critical Review. Abstract, annual meeting
odor by 20 to 50% before the nose period of 30 days without great ex- of the American Society for Testing Mate-
can consistently detect the difference. pense. rials, Chicago, 111. (June 1954).
For this reason it is usual in applica-
tion to operate for 20 or 30 days with • Arrange for an appropriation 7. McCord and Witheridge. Odors Phy-
for a 30-day trial which will demon- siology and Control. McGraw-Hill, New
an odor counteractant to determine York (1949).
minimum amount necessary to take strate effectiveness of the odor coun-
care of all variations of odor level teractant application and will also 8. Air Conservation Engineering. Con-
and to establish an exact cost of op- determine cost of operation on a con- nor Engineering Corp. (1953).
eration. tinuing basis. 9. B. K. Tremaine. Tappi 37, 141A-143A
The more intense a specific mal- • During the 30-day trial period (Aug. 1954).
odor may be, the more odor counter- arrange for a competent jury to 10. H. Zwaardemaker. Die Physiologie
actant is required for effective opera- evaluate results over the entire area. des Geruchs. Leipzig (1895).

of APCA 111 Vol. 8, No. 2