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Monitoring and controlling volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by using novel on-line FTIR/iPAS technology

Final Report Summary - ZERO-VOC (Monitoring and controlling volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by using novel on-line FTIR/iPAS technology)

Executive Summary:
Strict limits have been set for volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions due to their direct and indirect effects on the environment and the potential risk to human health. Industrial plants using solvents have to limit their emissions to the levels stated in VOC-directive (Directive 99/13/EC) before the end of October 2007, whereby VOC emissions from the solvent using industry should be reduced by 67% compared to the 1990 VOC levels. Furthermore the directive sets very strict limits (in some cases below 1 ppm) for the so-called ”R-labelled” VOCs, which contain for example different chlorinated VOCs.
In environmental analysis, one of the most challenging and still unresolved needs is the reliable measurement of (VOC). VOC emissions are normally present as mixtures. Furthermore, it is typical for many really harmful VOCs to be present at low concentrations. The emission limits for these compounds are also very low. This poses an enormous challenge in terms of the sampling, measurement and the selection of removal methods. To date, however, no reliable, selective and sensitive measurement technique exists that is capable of identifying the VOC emission levels of certain “R-labelled” VOCs in order to fulfil the limits stipulated by new directives.
This project will develop an affordable, reliable tool for on-line monitoring of harmful and toxic VOC emissions. The main focus will be the development of a novel iPAS sampling technique and calibration for online process measurements, which will be applied for its use in several demanding gas measurements (VOC emissions), where the use of traditional measurement techniques have clearly failed, or have proven very difficult and laborious. As a result, reliable emission measurement would form a coherent basis for the development and evaluation of the VOC emission abatement technologies.

Project Context and Objectives:
The overall goal of the Zero-VOC project is the development of an affordable, reliable on-line tool for the monitoring of VOC emissions. The ZERO-VOC system is based on a novel iPAS sampling technique and calibration for online process measurements. It is designed for use in demanding gas measurements, for which traditional measurements are ineffective or laborious. By reliably measuring VOC emissions, ZERO-VOC will allow for the development and evaluation of VOC emission abatement strategies. This will bring the thousands of VOC emitting SMEs in Europe in line with strict EU and national legislation on VOC emissions, thus boosting their competitiveness, improving the quality of life of European citizens and protecting the environment.

• To design the on-line monitoring ZERO-VOC system in keeping with a ‘bottom-up’ approach whereby the needs and specifications of at least 500 end-users are consulted and results are used to drive the development of the prototype. This work will be carried out in WP1 whereby it is envisaged that by M3 a comprehensive market survey will have been carried out among a critical mass of European VOC producers and the results will be used in order to define the industrial specification of the proposed technology. Related to WP1: achieved.

• To determine and define the key VOC emissions that will need to be measured by the proposed ZERO-VOC system. It is initially envisaged that at least 6 VOC emissions will be measured, e.g. perchloroethylene, dimethylsulphides, xylenes, alcohols; however this list will be finalised by M6 during WP2. Related to WP2: achieved at the end of the first reporting period, however list of defined compounds can be changed later according to SMEs needs on track.

• To carry out preliminary research in a laboratory environment on the use of FTIR/iPAS technology to measure the above defined harmful compounds and to define the detection limits of different measurement technologies. Related to WP3: achieved.

• To design and develop tailored process interface(s) to fulfil the needs of various end-user groups. Given that one of the potential end-user groups of the ZERO-VOC system will be companies that offer environmental measurement services, the location of the facility or plant where ZERO-VOC will be used may well vary significantly every time it is used and in light of this the interface must be very flexible. Another end-user group is the companies who make abatement equipment and in such a case the ZERO-VOC installation is fixed and this will also set totally different requirements for the interface.

• In terms of performance, to ensure that the ZERO-VOC system:

- offers sufficient repeatability and reproducibility and a high degree of statistical reliability when compared with the state-of-art continuous emission measurements. Extensive trials to verify the repeatability and reproducibility of the tool will be carried out in laboratory and in industrial trails in keeping with the procedures stipulated in the international standard ISO 5725-2.

- is capable of measuring different compounds and offers high sensitivity permitting the detection of ppb (10-9) or even ppt (10-12) concentrations. For example perchloroethylene (PCE), which will be one of the emission compounds originating from one of the industry participants, is especially difficult to analyse with current FTIR-White cell-technology, nor is it straightforward with adsorption sampling. It is envisaged that the novel ZERO-VOC system will resolve this problem, to quote just one example.

- offers high selectivity permitting clear differentiation between different VOC compounds

- offers good time resolution in order to permit almost continuous measurements. Given that the FTIR/PAS can be measured in less than one minute this greatly advances that of current measurement techniques that are based on yearly sampling.

- robust enough to withstand a harsh industrial environment

- To ensure that ZERO-VOC measurement system is easy to use by developing a computer controlled, automatized sampling system and software package for the ZERO-VOC prototype. A software package for the on-line analysis will be developed and the calibration libraries will be specifically collected during the project. A software package with calibration libraries will facilitate the objective interpretation of the results, ensuring that the instrument can be operated by personnel with a minimum training.


• To ensure the future exploitation of ZERO-VOC system by keeping it of sufficiently low cost to ensure its uptake by as many SMEs as possible. It is envisaged that the price of the instrument will range from 10,000 to 20,000 € within 5 years. The cost of the instrument can also be decreased by the miniaturisation of iPAS and FTIR technologies. In fact there are already several on-going R&D projects in this area such as MINIGAS (STREP-FP7-ICT-2007-2) and in NOSPI (TEKES funded research project in Finland) and the consortium will interact with these such projects in order to explore the uptake of their results.

Project Results:
The technical and operational objectives are:


• To design the on-line monitoring ZERO-VOC system in keeping with a ‘bottom-up’ approach whereby the needs and specifications of at least 500 end-users are consulted and results are used to drive the development of the prototype. This work will be carried out in WP1 whereby it is envisaged that by M3 a comprehensive market survey will have been carried out among a critical mass of European VOC producers and the results will be used in order to define the industrial specification of the proposed technology.
• To determine and define the key VOC emissions that will need to be measured by the proposed ZERO-VOC system. It is initially envisaged that at least 6 VOC emissions will be measured, e.g. perchloroethylene, dimethylsulphides, xylenes, alcohols, however this list will be finalised by M6 during WP2.
• To carry out preliminary research in a laboratory environment on the use of FTIR/iPAS technology to measure the above defined harmful compounds and to define the detection limits of different measurement technologies.
• To design and develop tailored process interface(s) to fulfil the needs of various end-user groups. Given that one of the potential end-user groups of the ZERO-VOC system will be companies that offer environmental measurement services, the location of the facility or plant where ZERO-VOC will be used may well vary significantly every time it is used and in light of this the interface must be very flexible. Another end-user group is the companies who make abatement equipment and in such a case the ZERO-VOC installation is fixed and this will also set totally different requirements for the interface.
• In terms of performance, to ensure that the ZERO-VOC system:
- offers sufficient repeatability and reproducibility and a high degree of statistical reliability when compared with the state-of-art continuous emission measurements. Extensive trials to verify the repeatability and reproducibility of the tool will be carried out in laboratory and in industrial trails in keeping with the procedures stipulated in the international standard ISO 5725-2.
- is capable of measuring different compounds and offers high sensitivity permitting the detection of ppb (10-9) or even ppt (10-12) concentrations. For example perchloroethylene (PCE), which will be one of the emission compounds originating from one of the industry participants, is especially difficult to analyse with current FTIR-White cell-technology, nor is it straightforward with adsorption sampling. It is envisaged that the novel ZERO-VOC system will resolve this problem, to quote just one example.
- offers high selectivity permitting clear differentiation between different VOC compounds
- offers good time resolution in order to permit almost continuous measurements. Given that the FTIR/PAS can be measured in less than one minute this greatly advances that of current measurement techniques that are based on yearly sampling.
- robust enough to withstand a harsh industrial environment

• To ensure that ZERO-VOC measurement system is easy to use by developing a computer controlled, automatized sampling system and software package for the ZERO-VOC prototype. A software package for the on-line analysis will be developed and the calibration libraries will be specifically collected during the project. A software package with calibration libraries will facilitate the objective interpretation of the results, ensuring that the instrument can be operated by personnel with a minimum training.
• To ensure the future exploitation of ZERO-VOC system by keeping it of sufficiently low cost to ensure its uptake by as many SMEs as possible. It is envisaged that the price of the instrument will range from 10.000 to 20.000 € within 5 years. The cost of the instrument can also be decreased by the miniaturisation of iPAS and FTIR technologies. In fact there are already several ongoing R&D projects in this area such as MINIGAS (STREP-FP7-ICT-2007-2) and in NOSPI (TEKES funded research project in Finland) and the consortium will interact with these such projects in order to explore the uptake of their results.
• To test and validate the ZERO-VOC system in a real industrial environment. The prototype will be tested at different end-user facilities and validated by the different representatives and industrial sectors. The paint manufacturing SME among the consortium, CPP from Spain, and the pharmaceutical company, FER from Finland, will test the ZERO-VOC system in their emission control equipment in order to ensure that the full features of the system meet with their needs and specifications. In addition, the VOC emission abatement companies among the consortium EHO from Finland and RLX from Germany and ABC from UK will test the prototype with a view of abatement equipment manufactures and assist the consortium in defining the specifications for the future ZERO-VOC system. ABC also offers environmental measurement services to industry and therefore the needs of the portable ZERO-VOC instrument are highlighted in the consortium.

The ZERO-VOC system will significantly increase compliance with the industrial emissions directive and improve the quality of data available on VOC emissions by distinguishing between VOCs and by operating continuously. In addition, every effort has been made to ensure the system remains an affordable option for SMEs that produce VOCs. The iPAS cell, the heated gas exchange unit and the Matlab code for data handling are the features of the ZERO-VOC system that are currently considered its strongest USPs.

Potential Impact:
Improved VOC monitoring is vital to VOC abatement and prevention strategies. In this sense, there are several socio-economic benefits, in terms of human health, employment and the environment, which could derive from the successful commercial implementation of the ZERO-VOC technology.
VOCs are a major contributor to the generation of ground level ozone, which is detrimental to both the environment and human health. Exposure to air pollution and smog increases the incidence and severity of respiratory illnesses. Assisting manufacturing industries that use organic solvents in their processes to prevent or reduce their VOC emissions will directly contributing to easing this situation.
Furthermore, ensuring that small companies comply with EU legislation will safeguard jobs. It will also contribute to their competitiveness by allowing them to offer a product to consumers who are increasingly demanding environmentally friendly products. Employees of these companies will also benefit from the reductions in VOC emissions at their workplace.

List of Websites:

www.zero-voc.eu
Oonagh McNerney - omcnerney@iris.cat