With a Vulcan® Systems' Thermal Desorption Unit, hydrocarbons are separated from the solids in the sludge. The treated solids have little to no residual hydrocarbons, resulting in an end product that can be disposed of easily and cost-effectively.

Main Process Components
  • 1 Feed System

    Live bottom feeder, incline screw conveyor, knife gate airlock valves, kiln feed screw conveyor. More Info

    The hydrocarbon contaminated feed is placed in the feed hopper, which includes a live bottom feeder. This live bottom feeder is VFD controlled in order to meter the feed into the system. The feed exits the live bottom feeder and travels via the transfer screw conveyor to two double knife gate airlock valves. These airlocks prohibit the flow of outside air into the process chamber, allowing the feed material to be introduced into the primary thermal treatment unit into a completely oxygen deficient environment.

  • 2 Discharge System

    Knife gate airlock valves, discharge cooling incline conveyor. More Info

    The residual solids are cleaned to the customer's requested standard, typically determined by regulatory requirements. Residual solids are usually cleaned to less than 1000 H.C. PPM for refinery waste applications and 5000 H.C. PPM for drill cuttings. Residual solids leave the process chamber and are discharged into a solids cooling conveyor. This cooling conveyor is typically a hydration screw utilizing atomized water to cool the solids before being discharged.
  • 3 Primary Thermal DESORBER

    Indirect fired stainless steel rotary kiln with combustion chamber, dual fuel burners, gear drive powered by an electric motor. More Info

    This indirect fired rotary dryer has multiple zones, each with independent temperature controls. The drum is heated on the outside in order to maintain the integrity of the feed. Heat is transferred into the feed through conduction as the material is conveyed through the drum. The kiln operates in an oxygen deficient and slightly negative atmosphere. As the feed is heated, hydrocarbons, devolatized from the feed, are pulled out of the system in a counter-current direction to the material flow.
  • 4 First Stage Oil Condenser

    Oil condensor with tank, spray nozzle, cooling loop. More Info

    Vapors from the thermal processor pass through an oil condensor. The oil condensor removes most hydrocarbons in the vapor stream. This recovered oil is cooled and pumped to the client's supplied storage tanks.
  • 5 Second Stage Water Condenser

    Water condenser with tank, spray nozzle, air cooled heat exchangers. More Info

    After passing through the oil condenstor, the vapor stream typically contains water vapor and very light hydrocarbons. This vapor is passed through a second stage water condensor in order to knock out water and other condensables.
  • 6 Oil Water Separator

    Steel construction with float level. More Info

    The condensate from the second stage water condenser is pumped through a cooling loop and into an oil water separator, where residual oils are removed from the water.
  • 7 Polishing Condenser

    Mist eliminator and condenser with tank.

  • 8 Thermal Oxidizer

    Dual fuel burners and induced draft fan. More Info

    The non-condensable gases are pulled from the second stage by an induced draft fan and pushed into the thermal oxidizer.
Click here to view a process flow diagram.

New! Thermal Desorption ROI Calculator

For the first time in the industry you can now get a customized Thermal Desorption ROI report in just minutes. The experts at Vulcan® Systems have used their knowledge to create a calculator that will tell you the estimated feed rate, oil density, water density, fuel costs, electricity costs, staffing and other costs, needed equipment size and time to recoup your investment for your Thermal Desorption project. Go to the full calculator

roi calculator sample

What Makes Our Equipment Unique?

The ability to recover the diesel or oil in a way which maximizes the resaleability or use as a fuel.


Our technology is specifically designed to ensure maximum efficiency, avoiding the disadvantages created with other mechanical and thermal desorbers in the industry. Our thermal desorption unit's process chamber is designed to have a large open capacity with low vapor exit velocity. By minimizing the entrained patriculates in the vapor, the recovered hydrocarbons are cleaned and able to be sold or reused as fuel for the system. Entrainment of large volumes of solids (a common problem with alternative technology) may cause the recovered oil to form an emulsion, reducing the value and potentially making the recovered oil a waste stream.


Oil based drilling muds contain large volumes of valuable, recoverable diesel. Cracking the diesel degrades the recoverability and greatly reduces the value. In order to maximize the volume and value of recovered diesel and synthetic lubricants, it is important to apply heat to the feed progressively, with maximum temperature control. Our technology incorporates multiple heating zones along the length of the drum. This allows us to apply controlled heating at different temperatures within each zone of the drum. Typically, the first zone evaporates water. Middle zones are utilized to remove hydrocarbons, taking the hydrocarbon percentage down to less than 1%. The last zone, also known as the "polishing zone", is used to remove heavy hydrocarbons, while also meeting regulatory standards for residual hydrocarbons.

Basis of Design - Throughput Calculations Based on - 50% Solids, 30% Hydrocarbons, 20% Water
Model Tonnage Drum Portable
TB315 1 TPH 3x15 YES
TB420 2 TPH 4x20 YES
TB430 3 TPH 4x30 YES
TB525 5 TPH 5x25 YES
TB630 7.5 TPH 6x30 NO
TB735 10 TPH 7x35 NO
* Varying capacities and feed consistency will change product capacity.
Basis of Design - Throughput Calculations Based on - 70% Solids, 18% Hydrocarbons, 12% Water
Model Tonnage Drum Portable
DC315 1 TPH 3x15 YES
DC420 2 TPH 4x20 YES
DC430 3 TPH 4x30 YES
DC525 5 TPH 5x25 NO
DC630 7.5 TPH 6x30 NO
DC735 10 TPH 7x35 NO
* Varying capacities and feed consistency will change product capacity.
Additional Options
Heat Recovery

Using heat from a thermal oxidizer allows for preheating of combustion air in burners. This option can save up to 25% of fuel consumption in the system.

Waste Oil Burner System

An additional waste oil burner system consists of waste oil burners, fuel train, filters, and waste oil storage tank with heating elements. Reusing recovered oil as fuel will typically reduce fuel cost.

Discharge Quench

The stack on the discharge auger can be fitted with spray nozzles along the length of the stack. The quench spray removes excess particles from the gas stream before discharging steam into the atmosphere.

Nitrogen Generator

The swing adsorption nitrogen generator, with a nitrogen storage tank purges the system during start-up and shutdown. Nitrogen is also utilized during the process in order to keep O2 levels below the pre-detemined percent.


A portable option is available, placing the entire system on trailers or skids. This option is only available for specific models.

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