Waste-to-energy plants have radiant waterwall furnaces as well as convective boiler sections. Hazardous-waste and medical-waste incinerators usually have just convective boiler sections, typically of fire-tube rather than water-tube design.

Most hazardous-waste and medical-waste incinerators, particularly the smaller units, do not have heat-recovery boilers. Combustion gases are quenched by water sprays atomized into the hot gas flow. Other, less common, gas-temperature reduction methods include air-to-gas heat exchangers and direct gas tempering with air.

Gas cooling techniques are integral to incineration system design, and can be important with respect to emissions of certain pollutants. As discussed later in this chapter, emissions of mercury and dioxins and furans can be affected by the rate of gas cooling and the air pollution control device (APCD) operating temperature. Dry APCDs, including scrubbers and particulate control devices, achieve the highest degree of reduction of mercury, dioxins and furans, and acid gases when flue-gas temperatures are lowered to about 300°F or less at the APCD inlet.


Historically, incinerator APCDs were designed to remove two classes of pollutants which are particulate matter and acid gases. More recently, some method for improving the removal of dioxins and/or mercury is considered necessary. Also, as discussed in Chapter 6, NOx emission limits have been established for some incinerators. In several instances in European plants, increasingly stringent regulations have resulted in use of more than one particulate-control device or more than one type of scrubber in a given incineration facility, and emissions have typically been reduced more than would be expected with the single device alone.

Modern municipal solid-waste incinerators in the United States are equipped for particulate, acid gas, and, in many cases, dioxin and mercury removal. These municipal solid-waste incinerators typically employ fabric filters or dry electrostatic precipitators (esp) for particulate removal. ESPs became common in the 1970s. In the 1980s, fabric filters, also known as baghouses, started to replace, or be used in tandem with, ESPs as the preferred design for particulate removal because of their improved capacity for filtering finer particles. Spray dryer absorbers and dry-lime injection systems are used for acid gas—HCl and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—removal. Dry powdered activated carbon injection systems provide dioxin and furan and mercury removal.

Many small old municipal-waste incinerators do not have effective air-pollution control systems. Some have only a particulate-control device, often a relatively ineffective one designed to meet old standards for emissions of particulate. Newer ones have both particle and acid-gas-control devices, such as wet scrubbers.

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