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Remediation Technologies Screening Matrix, Version 4.0 4.22 Incineration
(Ex Situ Soil Remediation Technology)
  Description Synonyms Applicability Limitations Site Information Points of Contact
Data Needs Performance Cost References Vendor Info. Health & Safety
Table of Contents
Technology>>Soil, Sediment, Bedrock and Sludge

>>3.6 Ex Situ Thermal Treatment (assuming excavation)

      >>4.22 Incineration
Introduction>> High temperatures, 870-1,200 C (1,600- 2,200 F), are used to combust (in the presence of oxygen) organic constituents in hazardous wastes.


Figure 4-22: Typical Mobile/Transportable Incineration Process High temperatures, 870 to 1,200 C (1,400 to 2,200 F), are used to volatilize and combust (in the presence of oxygen) halogenated and other refractory organics in hazardous wastes. Often auxiliary fuels are employed to initiate and sustain combustion. The destruction and removal efficiency (DRE) for properly operated incinerators exceeds the 99.99% requirement for hazardous waste and can be operated to meet the 99.9999% requirement for PCBs and dioxins. Off gases and combustion residuals generally require treatment.

Circulating Bed Combustor (CBC)

Circulating bed combustor (CBC) uses high velocity air to entrain circulating solids and create a highly turbulent combustion zone that destroys toxic hydrocarbons. The CBC operates at lower temperatures than conventional incinerators (1,450 to 1,600 F). The CBC's high turbulence produces a uniform temperature around the combustion chamber and hot cyclone. The CBC also completely mixes the waste material during combustion. Effective mixing and low combustion temperature reduce operating costs and potential emissions of such gases as nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO).

Fluidized Bed

The circulating fluidized bed (CFB), uses high-velocity air to circulate and suspend the waste particles in a combustion loop and operates at temperatures up to 870 F (1,600 F). Another experimental unit, the infrared unit uses electrical resistance heating elements or indirect-fired radiant U-tubes to heat material passing through the chamber on a conveyor belt and operates at temperatures up to 870 F (1,600 F).

Infrared Combustion

The infrared combustion technology is a mobile thermal processing system that uses electrically-powered silicon carbide rods to heat organic wastes to combustion temperatures. Waste is fed into the primary chamber and exposed to infrared radiant heat (up to 1,850 F) provided by silicon carbide rods above the conveyor belt. A blower delivers air to selected locations along the belt to control the oxidation rate of the waste feed. Any remaining combustibles are incinerated in an afterburner.

Rotary Kilns

Commercial incinerator designs are rotary kilns, equipped with an afterburner, a quench, and an air pollution control system. The rotary kiln is a refractory-lined, slightly-inclined, rotating cylinder that serves as a combustion chamber and operates at temperatures up to 980 F (1,800 F).

Incinerator off-gas requires treatment by an air pollution-control system to remove particulates and neutralize and remove acid gases (HCl, NOx, and SOx). Baghouses, venturi scrubbers, and wet electrostatic precipitators remove particulates; packed-bed scrubbers and spray driers remove acid gases.

Incineration, primarily off-site, has been selected or used as the remedial action at more than 150 Superfund sites. Incineration is subject to a series of technology-specific regulations, including the following federal requirements: CAA (air emissions), TSCA (PCB treatment and disposal), RCRA (hazardous waste generation, treatment, storage, and disposal), NPDES (discharge to surface waters), and NCA (noise).

The duration of incineration technology ranges from short- to long-term.

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DSERTS Code: D1 (Incineration).

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Incineration is used to remediate soils contaminated with explosives and hazardous wastes, particularly chlorinated hydrocarbons, PCBs, and dioxins.

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Factors that may limit the applicability and effectiveness of the process include:
  • Only one off-site incinerator is permitted to burn PCBs and dioxins.
  • There are specific feed size and materials handling requirements that can impact applicability or cost at specific sites.
  • Heavy metals can produce a bottom ash that requires stabilization.
  • Volatile heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic, leave the combustion unit with the flue gases and require the installation of gas cleaning systems for removal.
  • Metals can react with other elements in the feed stream, such as chlorine or sulfur, forming more volatile and toxic compounds than the original species. Such compounds are likely to be short-lived reaction intermediates that can be destroyed in a caustic quench.
  • Sodium and potassium form low melting point ashes that can attack the brick lining and form a sticky particulate that fouls gas ducts.

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Data Needs:

A detailed discussion of these data elements is provided in Subsection 2.2.1 (Data Requirements for Soil, Sediment, and Sludge). In addition to identifying soil contaminants and their concentrations, information necessary for engineering thermal systems to specific applications includes soil moisture content and classification , the soil fusion temperature, and the soil heating value. A sieve analysis is required to accurately estimate the dust loading in the system for proper design of the air pollution control equipment.

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Performance Data:

If an off-site incinerator is used, the potential risk of transporting the hazardous waste through the community must be considered. Approximately 20 commercial RCRA-permitted hazardous waste incinerators and approximately 10 transportable high temperature units are operating. The commercial units are large capacity rotary kilns with afterburners and sophisticated air pollution control systems.

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The key cost driver information and cost analysis was developed in 2006 using the Remedial Action Cost Engineering and Requirements (RACER) software.

Key Cost Drivers 

        Type of waste

o       Debris < Soil < Sludge < Sediment


o       There is only a $300 - $400 gap in cost for quantities ranging from 5,000 – 100,000.

Cost Analysis

The following table represents estimated costs (by common unit of measure) to apply incineration technology at sites of varying size and complexity.   A more detailed cost estimate table which includes specific site characteristics and significant cost elements that contributed to the final costs can be viewed by clicking on the link below.





Scenario A

Scenario B

Scenario C

Scenario D

Small Site

Large Site

























 Detailed Cost Estimate

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Treatment Technologies for Site Cleanup: Annual Status Report (ASR), Tenth Edition, EPA 542-R-01-004

Innovative Remediation Technologies:  Field Scale Demonstration Project in North America, 2nd Edition

Remediation Technology Cost Compendium - Year 2000

Abstracts of Remediation Case Studies, Volume 4,  June, 2000, EPA 542-R-00-006

Guide to Documenting and Managing Cost and Performance Information for Remediation Projects - Revised Version, October, 1998, EPA 542-B-98-007

California Base Closure Environmental Committee (CBCEC), 1994. Treatment Technologies Applications Matrix for Base Closure Activities, Revision 1, Technology Matching Process Action Team, November, 1994.

EPA, 1987. Incineration of Hazardous Waste, Fact Sheet, EPA, Office of Solid Waste, Washington, DC, EPA/530-SW-88-018.

EPA, 1988. Experience in Incineration Applicable to Superfund Site Remediation, EPA, RREL and Center for Environmental Research Information, EPA/625/9-88/008.

EPA, 1988. Hazardous Waste Incineration: Questions and Answers, EPA, Office of Solid Waste, Washington, DC, EPA/530/SW-88/018.

EPA, 1990. Mobile/Transportable Incineration Treatment, Engineering Bulletin, EPA, OERR and ORD, Washington, DC, EPA/540/2-90/014.

EPA, 1988. Shirco Infrared Incineration, EPA RREL, series includes Technology Evaluation Peake Oil, EPA/540/5-88/002a; Technology Evaluation Rose Township, EPA/540/5-89/007a; Technology Evaluation Rose Township Vol. II, EPA/540/5-89/007b, PB89-167910; Applications Analysis, EPA/540/S5-89/010; Technology Demonstration Summary, EPA/540/S5-89/007; Demonstration Bulletin, EPA/540/ M5-88/002; and Technology Evaluation Report Peake Oil Vol. II, EPA/540/5-88/002B, PB89-116024.

EPA, 1989. American Combustion Oxygen Enhanced Incineration, EPA RREL, series include Technology Evaluation, EPA/540/5-89/008; Applications Analysis, EPA/540/A5-89/008; Technology Demonstration Summary, EPA/540/S5-89/008; and Demonstration Bulletin, EPA/540/M5-89/008.

EPA, 1992. Ogden Circulating Bed Combustor McCall Superfund Site, EPA RREL, Technology Evaluation, EPA/540/R-92/001; Demonstration Bulletin, EPA/540/MR-92/001.

EPA, 1995. GENERAL ATOMIC (Circulating Bed Combustor), 1995 EPA Site Program, Demonstration Bulletin.

EPA, 1995. GRUPPO ITALIMPRESS(Infrared Thermal Destruction), 1995 EPA Site Program, Demonstration Bulletin.

EPA, 1997. Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Soil Treatment Technologies: Suggested Operational Guidelines to Prevent Cross-media Transfer of Contaminants During Clean-UP Activities, EPA OSWER, EPA/530/R-97/007.

EPA, 1997. On-Site Incineration: Overview of Superfund Operating Experience.

Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable, 1998. Remediation Case Studies: On-Site Incineration, EPA/542/R-98/016.

Noland, J.W., et al., 1984. Task 2: Incineration Test of Explosives Contaminated Soils at Savanna Army Depot Activity, Final Report, Savanna Illinois, USATHAMA Report DRXTH-TE-CR-84277.

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Site Information:

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Points of Contact:

General FRTR Agency Contacts

Technology Specific Web Sites:

Government Web Sites

Non Government Web Sites

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Vendor Information:

A list of vendors offering Ex Situ Thermal Soil Treatment is available from EPA REACH IT which combines information from three established EPA databases, the Vendor Information System for Innovative Treatment Technologies (VISITT), the Vendor Field Analytical and Characterization Technologies System (Vendor FACTS), and the Innovative Treatment Technologies (ITT), to give users access to comprehensive information about treatment and characterization technologies and their applications.

Government Disclaimer

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Health and Safety:

Hazard Analysis

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