Thermal Remediation – Pest Treatment with Heat

Pest Management: A New Market for Natural Gas

TEMP-AIR
3700 West Preserve Boulevard
Burnsville, MN 55337

ABSTRACT

Question 1: You Do What With Natural Gas?

We kill insects with natural gas. Actually, we use natural gas-fueled heaters to kill insects. We have been performing this service for seven years. We place large construction heaters in food processing plants, bring the building up to 120F for 24 hours, and we kill all the insects in the building. Heat is a very effective alternative to using chemicals to fumigate buildings.

Question 2: Why are you using heat to kill insects?

In 1996, the US Clean Air Act established phase out schedules for ozone-depleting substances to comply with the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer. CFCs were phased out in 1996. Methyl bromide was scheduled for phase out in 2005. Methyl bromide was the only chemical approved for fumigation in food processing plants. According to the EPA, the only approved alternatives to kill insects were heat, cold, or vacuum. There are chemical alternatives now, but heat has significant advantages over chemicals.

TEMP-AIR is the largest provider of temporary heating equipment for construction projects in the US. We have a fleet of rental heaters that exceed 6,000 units. We have been heating the largest construction projects in North America for over forty years, including the Mall of America, Denver Airport, the Pentagon, and currently the expansion of McCormick Place. Heat treatment to kill insects was an incredible opportunity to use our equipment during the summer.

 

Question 3: Is heat effective at killing insects? All insects?

Heat has been used by the food processing industry to kill insects since the 1900s. Some of the largest facilities have used heat for over 30 years.

Research conducted by Kansas State University Department of Grain Science and Industry verified that exposure to 120F at 25% RH for 60 minutes killed 100% of all adult insects. This included cockroaches, red flour beetles, Indian meal moths, and a lengthy list of other stored product pests. Further tests have verified that heat will kill the entire life cycle of most insects, including the egg, larvae, and pupae, although some insects do have higher tolerances requiring longer exposure.

In most heat treatments, the structure is brought to a minimum of 120F for 24 hours or longer to ensure that the heat penetrates the wall cavities and equipment. This precaution is called “overkill”.

Heat has been proven to work!

Question 4: Will heat damage the structure or the equipment?

It can. It is very important to determine what tolerances exist. This is especially important for process equipment. Some equipment can be removed easily. Others will require an engineering assessment.

The most important consideration is the fire sprinkler system. Are the sprinkler heads rated at 170F or 212F or 248F? The heads can be easily replaced with a higher activation temperature at nominal cost.

Most buildings can physically withstand temperatures up to 150F. (Think about the attic in the summer.) There are different techniques to heat a building and some have greater control for temperature uniformity. Hot air rises, so the greatest concern is the ceiling/roof.

Question 5: How much natural gas will heat treating consume?

It depends on the size of the structure, the outside temperatures, the type of construction materials, and the length of the treatment. A typical 1,000,000 cubic foot mill will require approximately 36 MMBtu/hr and may burn 7,200 therms. That assumes the plant is using TEMP-AIR’s thermal remediation process. The customer could also use their central steam plant or electric generators/heaters.

The treatments occur almost exclusively during the summer months and most plants will require 2-3 treatments per year. There are approximately 200 mills in North America. Heat treating is also effective in bakeries, pet food plants, and other food processing facilities.

Question 6: Is heat treatment appropriate for other types of structures?

TEMP-AIR has been targeting primarily food processing plants, but the technique is also effective in commercial kitchens. It is a chemical-free alternative to insecticides for restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and schools . It is also being used to treat hotel rooms for bed bugs. Again, certain precautions are required

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