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Clean Technology

Thermal Desorption VS. Incineration

Thermal Desorption uses heat to separate contaminants, elements, etc. from the soil through vaporization. Incineration uses heat to destroy these contaminants-along with any other valuable commodities within the feed stock. Most current thermal technologies are incineration based and simply burn off any hydrocarbon content in the waste matter. An incineration process has a number of serious drawbacks that include but are not limited to:

  • Failure to recover a  valuable commodity

  • Production of greenhouse gas emissions

  • Resultant biologically dead soil product (often requiring disposal



History of Thermal Desorption

Industry experiments with Thermal Desorption Technology began in 1985 on a site in Maine and only about 60 subsequent experiments occurred by the year 2000; with only used a fraction of the tests occurring in Canada during that time frame.

Thermal Desorption Technology gained little momentum after 2000 and was predominantly based on incineration with some minimal stabilization. More recently, other players have tried and failed to provide a commercially viable solution.  They have been unable to achieve the Hydrocarbon Recapture success produced by AGES technology during our research phase.  

AGES is Advanced Thermal Desorption

AGES technology differs from previous technologies. We have proven the design and patented the technology to ensure our equipment will be an unprecedented upgrade from any previous attempts to commercialize Thermal Desorption Technology.

 AGES Thermal Processing Corporation will construct and demonstrate advanced design/operating protocols. This technology will be operated under an inert nitrogen blanket system to vaporize valuable hydrocarbon streams while not allowing those hydrocarbons to become oxidized or incinerated in atmosphere.

The AGES Thermal Desorption System will incorporate sophisticated Process Control Protocol and PLC Programing using an array of instrumentation that will monitor and control a precise operating condition to maximize the valuable hydrocarbon recovery from a variety of industry waste streams.

AGES technology is a thermal screw process with large diameter heated screw conveyors. The initial contaminated product enters into a hopper at the end of the #1 pre-heat screw where initial free liquids can drop off.

Next the product is heated to temperatures of between 750-1000F (depending whether Low Temperature or High Temperature Thermal Desorption is desired).  The contaminants with low boiling points will vaporize or turn into gas and separate from the soil. These vaporized contaminants are then collected and treated. Gasses are cooled, condensed and then become a storable liquid.

Through low temperature thermal desorption, hydrocarbons are recovered into a BS&W grade resalable oil by-product. This closed loop process does NOT use incineration, produces no fugitive emissions, and can leave a biologically active residual tier 1 soil throughput with a final hydrocarbon concentration of 5 mg/kg or less. The reclaimed soil meets the Canadian Soil Quality Guideline for Agricultural land use for hydrocarbons and is suitable for in-situ disposal, depending on type of soil contamination (metal content notwithstanding).


Research & Development

The original pilot plant tests used a 100 lb/hr capacity Thermal Desorption Test Unit configured to operate as a low temperature or high temperature thermal desorption unit or combinations thereof. The pilot test unit was evaluated for its ability to remove and recover volatile organics and fixate non-volatile materials such as metals to a solid matrix, producing a benign by-product.

The pilot test was conducted over a 3 month period during which samples of the raw and treated material were collected and analyzed by AGAT Laboratories. Chemical tests included BETX, C1—C30 scan, Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons, Total and Leachable Metals, Bulk Density and Soil Analysis. Test results were compared through the Alberta Tier 1 criteria. Results of the pilot test revealed the technology was capable hydrocarbon remediation to levels below the Tier 1 criteria. The residual hydrocarbon concentration in the treated material range from <10 mg/kg to as high as 250 mg/kg, with the limit being 1,000 mg/kg.

The general trend: the higher the operating temperature of the thermal unit, the lower the residual hydrocarbon concentration in the treated material. Removal of the hydrocarbon fraction was observed to concentrate the non-volatile fraction in the solids fraction. Results of the pilot test were compiled in a report entitled ‘Incal Remediation Treatment’ published by Hood Environmental.

Bench test results demonstrate the technologies’ capacity for complete hydrocarbon remediation and recovery using AGES patented oil/water separation unit for the production of a tier 1 soil residual. AGES retained Rod Facey of Falling Apple Solutions in 2013 to complete the preliminary bench tests and engineering related to its ground breaking patented Environmental Remediation Thermal Desorption Technology.

 With Mr. Facey’s help, AGES has been able to successfully broaden the technical applications of the technology to process a wide array of hydrocarbon laden materials applicable to many other industrial uses. Outcomes of these prototype tests have determined the unit has capacity of up to 2 tons/per hour and is capable in the handling of moisture content of up to 20% by weight.

Testing to date indicates reliable and consistent operation with little to no downtime with adherence to regularly scheduled maintenance programs. Engineering Pro forma calculations have further posited waste management cost reduction of 30+% and elimination of associated liabilities regarding the treated waste product.

Industry roundtables provided guidance for responsive design requirements and were the driver behind key developments such as portability, limiting footprint, and power source options. To ensure a quality and range of application, engineering has addressed the machines ability to process a variety of material content (including chunks of rock without failing), moisture content variation, and the pivotal need for consistent feed capacity (optimal percentage) to allow for even heat distribution required for the thermal process.

Additional design modifications have addressed increased efficiency for the oil water separator, sourcing of high quality thermal screws, and the operation of the machine in Canada’s frigid winter temperatures.


Design & Applications

AGES Thermal remediation equipment has application in a variety of different hydrocarbon contaminated solids including:

  • Contaminated soil remediation

  • Contaminated land remediation/Brownfield

  • Drill cuttings

  • Tank bottoms

  • Frac sand

  • Mine waste tailings


Our current stock design offers a maximum capacity of 4 tonnes/hr., with an expansion ability up to 20 tonnes/hr., dependent upon feedstock. Additional process trains can be added to increase throughput capacity. The technology is capable of optimally processing contaminated solids with moisture contents up to 20 % by weight. If required, it can also handle over 20% moisture by including a raw material de-watering step upstream of the process.

The technology can be configured as a portable or fixed facility. As a mobile thermal desorption treatment solution, the smaller scale units are easy to transport and integrate with existing field equipment and offshore platforms. This means reclamation work can be carried out in virtually any location and is no longer restricted by the economic necessity to be in close proximity to a static facility.

This mobile application is particularly advantageous where drill cuttings are a process issue because it allows not only the cleaning of the drill cuttings in-situ, but also the recapture of the gas/liquid. The unique recycling process provides a useful and valuable commodity that would have previously been a waste stream.

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