THE EARTH TIMES
APRIL 30 – MAY 14, 1996
Promoting technology for tackling city pollution
By Ashali Varma
Air pollution is one of the major environmental problems facing cities in developing countries. Sulphur dioxide, a chemical responsible for acid rain, and one of the main polluting agents, is released into the air by factories and power plants using coal. Most businesses cannot afford the technology for sulphur dioxide removal. But a recent breakthrough in pollution control technology by Alanco Environmental Resources Corporation, offers a new, affordable and efficient technique to countries that have limited resources but are on the fast track to compete with industrialized nations.
“There are all these countries that need our technology.” Said Norman E. Meyer, President and CEO of Alanco in an interview with The Earth Times, “we consider this our biggest opportunity, not only from a company standpoint and a shareholder base but it also gives us an opportunity to do something for the environment. W can buy clean water, we can buy generic food but we cannot buy clean air.”
Alanco Environmental Resources Corporation, based in Scottsdale, Arizona began as a mining company in the 1960s. With the decline of the precious metals markets in the 1980s, the company diversified and acquired the technology to enter the pollution control industry in 1989. Historically, industrial plants use one of two processes – wet scrubber or dry scrubber – to purify noxious gases emitted from their smokestacks. Though the wet scrubber system purifies 90 percent of the pollution it is rarely used because of the high costs which involves separate treatment facility.
Alanco’s technology adds an electrode to the dry sorbent injection technology. “We acquired this technology in 1982 from Newberry Energy, and after a long process and at the cost of 10 million dollars, Alanco corrected the problems to make the Charged Dry Sorbent Injection (CSDI) more efficient.
Meyer explained, “By charging the sorbent that we inject into the air stream we make the system more efficient, it makes about 1.3 pounds of sorbent to remove one pound of sulphur dioxide. Before the charging system it took 3-4 pounds of sorbent to remove one pound of sulphur dioxide.”
In addition, the CDSI system runs between $125,000-$250,000, and the competing technologies are at least four times as expensive, said Meyer. “Which is why, in my opinion, it has been very difficult for governments to enforce pollution standards because the cost of remedial measures is so expensive it basically puts companies out of business,” Meyer said.
“As an example,” said Meyer, “If you build a 50 million dollar power plant, the wet scrubber system would also cost 50 million dollars and it would take up about equal amount of real estate, whereas the CDSI system is not only less expensive to install, it reduces the operational cost almost in half.”
Even from a chemical standpoint, when you use a wet scrubber system you have an acid by product. In this technology we get a totally inert product which is usable as it is lime based and can be mixed with soil or concrete, Meyer explained.
Alanco’s first tests of its new pollution control system in the Dezhou Heat and Power Plant, Shandong province, China was such a success, that Hangzhou Steel of Hangzhou City has also signed a contract with Alanco.
“In China despite the fact that the coal being used has a high sulphur base, our removal of sulphur dioxide was about 76 percent,” said Meyer.
China’s 400,000 industrial coal boilers consume more coal than any country in the world. The number of potential CDSI installations reported by the Chinese indicates that a mere one percent market share of Alanco could translate into $ 700 million in revenues, according to a research report compiled by First Guarantor Securities Ltd. Although Alanco’s goals for 1996 CDSI sales is a modest $5 million, over the long term Alanco could corner the market share in China to more than 50 percent, according to First Guarantor Securities.
Meyer said that Alanco does not have any competitors in this field. “When Alanco perfected the CDSI technology we applied for a new patent which is valid for the next 17 years,” said Meyer. Alanco has also signed a Letter of Intent for the formation of a joint venture to market the CDSI industrial pollution control systems in Europe.