An Overview of Distillation Waste Recycling Systems

Solid Distillation System Waste Recycling is a method of managing a hazardous waste stream. This system reduces all feed materials to a uniform size, and conveys them into a kiln. In the kiln the waste is heated to high temperatures to evaporate out and recover volatile and semi-volatile compounds with condensers and oil/water separator as a water/organic mixture to be processed. The difference from waste incineration is that solid distillation does not expose the waste stream to flame or oxygen, therefore a more controlled waste management system. The products of this process are reusable volatile and semi-volatile compounds, non-hazardous pile or still bottoms. This process reduces the amount of hazardous waste at a site that needs to be treated or disposed of.

Hazardous waste producers are investigating hazardous waste disposal using the solid distillation system due to increasing amount of environmental regulations restricting hazardous waste from landfills and the rising costs for proper disposal in a hazardous waste landfill. Hazardous waste landfills are under even more environmental regulations than standard landfills and hazardous landfills are being filled to capacity so alternate methods need to be explored.

Solid distillation system waste recycling accomplishes several objectives. It reduces the amount and volume of hazardous waste, recovers some hazardous waste for products useful in the production process again as a raw material. Solid distillation system waste recycling can reduce the cost of treating the hazardous waste on site or having it properly disposed of, resulting in less pollution being produced.

Most organic solids can be processed, including paint waste, solvent soaked rags, resins, polymers, production debris, refinery waste and discarded commercial products. So long as the material is recycled, the process is exempt from Resource Conservation and Recovery Act rules. Once the material has been processed, the generator receives a Certificate of Recycling that affirms the materials have been recycled. The generator then has no further liability.

There are many benefits utilizing this process for organic solid wastes like solvents. By receiving a Certificate of Recycling, the material is removed from the solid waste definition, placing the hazardous chemicals back into industrial processes. The solid distillation system waste recycling achieves waste minimization and recycling goals by turning a waste into a valuable product for industry. Still bottoms should be minimized by filtering out solids before distillation, and operating the distillation system should be completed to maximize the amount of solvent that is recovered for reuse.

If after this process is complete, the still bottoms have hazardous material remaining, they must be placed into an appropriate hazardous waste container and properly disposed of.

The process of solid distillation does present potential for both significant environmental and health related issues. RCRA hazardous wastes do not cease to be dangerous simply because they are being reused, recycled, or reclaimed, so care must be taken. These processes should be viewed instead as ways of managing hazardous wastes which can avoid environmental hazards, protect scarce natural resources, and reduce the nation’s reliance on raw materials.

Unless the still bottoms are properly treated and disposed of, there is a potential for these to be as hazardous as the waste prior to the distillation process. The still bottoms must be allowed to dry properly to eliminate the any vapors from off gassing into the air as the chamber is opened. The still bottoms may contain other chemicals that make it a hazardous waste even with the elimination of the solvents, and properly disposal is arranged prior to any operations are conducted.

Accounting for all the positive effects of solid distillation it is a viable solution for management of hazardous waste. The facts are that this system allows for otherwise hazardous material to be reduced in volume at a minimum and in the best cases allows for the recycling and using of solvents. The operations at the university demonstrates that with proper controls and supervision there is a growing need to current distillation operations and continue researching more efficient distillation systems.