The Smelly Truth – Odor Abatement for the Flavor and Fragrance Industry

Typically manufacturing with a palette of over 3,000 raw materials, the Flavor and Fragrance industry stinks – literally. With odor complaints being one of the largest problems facing production teams, treating the exhaust air from these facilities can be one of the most challenging issues we deal with.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for treating the exhaust air from flavor and fragrance facilities. Below, we will look at 5 common solutions and discuss the pro’s and con’s of each.

  1. Fixed Bed Carbon System – A passive system where the air stream is blown through a fixed bed carbon system. The system is typically installed in parallel with a primary and a secondary bed. The beds are flipped (Secondary becomes the primary and the primary becomes the secondary) at each carbon change. Pro’s – passive system with low energy demand. Con’s large foot print required (vertical options are available). Costly – the carbon needs to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. A system for a typical flavor or fragrance manufacturing facility could be between 20,000 and 40,000 pound of carbon per bed.
  2. Regenerative bed filtration system.  There are options for both regenerative carbon and zeolite bed filtration systems.  Similar tot the fixed bed carbon filter system above, by utilizing either heat or ozone, the media can be regenerated multiple times. This significantly extends the media life and reduces cost.  Pros – similar performance to fixed bed carbon filter system.  Less frequent replacement of filter media.  Cons – media regeneration has a high energy demand, media still needs to be replaced – just less frequently.
  3. Packed Bed Chemical Wet Scrubber – A packed bed wet scrubber with an acid or caustic solution can provide highly efficient odor and VOC abatement.  Pros – Up to 99.99% efficient at removing odors and VOCs from the waste stream. Vertical design reduces required footprint.  Cons – Active system – increased energy consumption.  Chemical handling during operation creates a potentially hazardous condition.  System typically needs to be installed indoors to prevent freezing during the winter. 
  4. RTO – Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer – The thermal oxidizer is the gold standard for odor abatement. A three chamber regenerative thermal oxidizer (or similar system) would provide the highest level of odor/VOC control.  Pros – most effective broad range waste stream treatment available. The new three chamber regenerative oxidizers use super heated ceramic media to treat the waste stream as opposed to direct fired traditional thermal oxidizers. This reduces energy consumption during operation – the key word is reduces.   Cons – Energy – and lots of it.  The units need to be run constantly using a significant amount of natural gas and electricity.
  5. Bio-filtration – This is the most environmentally conscious alternative.  Using a multi level system, the waste stream is filtered across multiple levels of organic media.  The organic media supports the growth of microorganisms which then break down the organic compounds suspended in the air reducing the odor/VOC.  The systems are up to 95% efficient at removing odors from the waste stream.  Pros- Low cost to operate.  Long life of filter media.  GREEN.  Cons – large footprint required.  A 20,000 cfm system requires approximately 1,300 sf footprint 30 feet tall.  Does not work on all exhaust vapors.

Are you having issues with odor complaints or treating your waste stream? The Farrell Partnership is an industry leader in the design of manufacturing facilities for the Flavor & Fragrance, Food and Cosmetic Industries. Call us at +1 732-257-5700 or email us at: to find out how we can help you.

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