As companies continue to look for ways to increase their sustainable initiatives and reduce costs, one solution is proving to be intriguing for those that produce industrial solvents.
Solvent distillation has become an innovative method in industrial recovery services, offering an opportunity for companies to recycle their hazardous solvents.
In today’s industry, common solvents include alcohols, ketones, halogenated hydrocarbons, esters, aromatics and aliphatics. When they can no longer be used for their original purpose, they must be discarded. However, because many solvents are considered hazardous waste by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, disposal must be done safely and according to regulations.
Solvent distillation, when used as part of a closed loop recycling system, ensures virtually nothing is wasted. Here’s why.
A Behind-The-Scenes Look
A solvent is a molecule that has the ability to dissolve other molecules, known as solutes. A solvent can be solid, liquid or gas. The molecules of the solvent work to pull the solute molecules apart.
Eventually, the molecules of solute become evenly distributed throughout the solvent. This homogeneous mixture is perfectly even, and it cannot be separated physically. This means heat or another chemical process must be applied to the solution to separate the solvent and solute.
During the solvent distillation process, the application and removal of heat separates a liquid or vapor mixture of two or more substances into its component fractions of desired purity.
After a company has generated and transported its hazardous waste to a solvent distillation facility, like Temarry Recycling, here is what happens:
- A fingerprint analysis is conducted. This identifies the waste and sorts it.
- Liquid drums in the solvent distillation unit are pumped and filtered, after which solvents are pumped to the distillation unit.
- Volatilized solvent vapors expand into the fractionation column of the unit.
- A heat exchanger cools off the solvent.
- After cooling, solvents are directed to a finished product tank.
- Workers then package the product into drums and totes for distribution back into industry.
The solvent distillation recovery process outlined above is based on the fact that the vapor of a boiling mixture is richer in low boil point components. After the vapor cools and condenses, the liquid condensate is ready to be sold back into industry.
While there is typically a portion of the original mixture that does not vaporize and remains at the bottom of the recovery still, it can be recovered and then used as an alternative fuel source in some industries.
Our eBook, Acceptable Waste Codes Guide, provides a complete list of acceptable waste codes Temarry Recycling receives to give you a better idea of whether your facility can take advantage of solvent distillation.
Taking Sustainability To The Next Level
In many disposal facilities, waste is received and then treated according to its properties. Some wastes will end up in landfills, while other types of waste will be burned off.
Temarry Recycling, however, offers a Closed Loop Recycling system that allows waste to be treated and turned back into reusable product that is then sold back into industry. Solvent distillation plays an important role in this closed loop process.
By ensuring nothing is wasted, companies can take their sustainability initiatives to the next level.
Here’s how the energy process works when combined with solvent distillation:
- A waste to energy process converts high BTU organic solids to steam that is used as energy on-site.
- The solvent distillation process uses this steam as energy to power the solvent recovery stills. Spent solvents are re-manufactured and sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
- A water treatment process then extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes. This treated water is used on-site for industrial needs, including the waste to energy equipment and a cooling tower.
How does this full-circle system enhance sustainability? When compared to an open loop system, a closed loop system is more restorative and regenerative by design, keeping materials at their highest utility and value always.
An open loop system, such as fuel blending, typically recycles materials that are then used for a different purpose.
Benefiting Companies With Solvent Waste
For companies that produce hazardous solvents as part of their manufacturing processes, solvent distillation offers several key advantages.
In addition to keeping materials at their highest utility and reducing the amount of hazardous waste that ends up in landfills, solvent distillation also reduces the distance companies located on the West Coast must send their waste.
Many hazardous waste disposal companies will transport waste to cement kilns located in the Midwest. For companies located along the West Coast, transporting waste across the country to Kansas or Arkansas means heavy fuel costs and an increased carbon footprint due to fuel consumption.
However, companies located in the western United States that send their solvent waste streams to Temarry Recycling can markedly reduce fuel costs and their carbon footprint because Temarry’s state-of-the-art facility is located about 40 miles east of San Diego, California, in Tecate, Mexico.
This, in turn, will reduce their liability because the transport distance of their waste is shortened. Improper disposal of hazardous waste can result in huge fines, and you are responsible for that waste even after it leaves your property.
When companies safely send their hazardous waste to Mexico for recycling, however, they see a reduction in their “cradle to grave” liability since their liability for that waste ends at the U.S. border. It’s there that Temarry becomes the Principal Responsible Party in the United States and Recicladora Temarry de Mexico accepts generator liability in Mexico.
As the only closed-loop recycling facility serving the western United States, Temarry Recycling offers the opportunity for companies to not only reduce their carbon footprint significantly but save on disposal and transportation costs while being on the leading edge of industrial recovery today.