SOLVAir®: Cleaning up the skies

  HG Click to enlarge

I am sure many of you have seen the effects of air pollution at some stage in your life. I know I have, on many occasions, but there is one experience that really sticks in my mind. A few years ago I was at the Grand Canyon, one of the most stunning natural wonders of the world, and there, in the middle of this beautiful scenery, I was appalled to see a heavy pollution haze hanging in the air. It was then I knew, if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere and that air pollution is something we all need to take very seriously.

Here at Solvay, we have been providing solutions to clean up the air quality in industrial zones for over 25 years. We use our sodium bicarbonate-based solutions, which react rapidly with acid gases and are able to remove very high levels of pollutants when used in a Dry Sorbent Injection designed system (DSI).

In 2005 we established SOLVAir®, our global division that provides sustainable sodium bicarbonate- and Trona-based environmental solutions for air emissions.

Our recent contract with a long-time client (power company) and Owensboro Riverport Authority (ORA)is a great showcase of how we work together with partners and the industry to improve air quality and that what we do at SOLVAir®is actually much more than just selling a product.
Yes, indeed, we do have products that clean the air coming out of their coal-fired plants, but what is important to note is that we also invest heavily in working directly with customers and the regulators too, to continually reduce pollution levels. There are many plants across the US, and in many other parts of the world, that are currently experiencing strict regulation changes that requires them to reduce emissions in plants that have never needed treatment before.  

Our work with this customer, together with ORA started because the customer had a requirement for a finer milled sodium bicarbonate at its large coal-fired power plant in the USA. We needed to take our regular product, which is 400 microns (the same size as the sodium bicarbonate used in cooking) and we needed to mill this to a fine powder (as fine as baby talc). Since the customer could not do this on its own site, we had to figure out a way to do this for them and also ensure the efficient and stable delivery of over 50,000 tonnes a year. And we had to do this fast.  ORA was the perfect partner for this, since not only did they have the space but the location was ideal to serve the customer.
  Coal Fired Power Plants Click to enlarge

The deal was signed in November 2014, and we were up and running with a temporary solution by March 2015. The permanent facility will be completed by the end of this year. 

Another benefit of setting up the facilities at ORA is that we are able to ensure that our client has a steady stock pile of SOLVAir® milled product available at all times, something that would not be financially viable for them to be doing alone on their site. As well as securing the partnership with ORA to build a new facility, we also signed a deal with a local trucking company to supply new trucks specifically for the delivery from ORA to the customer site.

Having ORA as our partner is the very best solution for both the customer and Solvay.
This €24 million investment (made by ORA in agreement with Solvay to build the milling facility) , is not only transforming the emissions output at the customer site, but it is also providing life changing improvements to ORA and the surrounding area.  It is bringing 25% more employment at the port, and significant economical benefit to the community. With such large quantities to transport daily, the trucking company also increased its labor force by 12 people and was able to invest a great deal in the new trucks. You don't get to create change like this if you are just selling a product, and this is what we are about at SOLVAir®.

Of course, power plants are not the only source of air pollution in the world. But my view is, if you can clean up the power plants you are already significantly reducing air pollution. It is crucial that this same attitude translates into some of the other industrialized nations that are now beginning to adopt this. I am happy to say that we are seeing a lot of interest from the Latin America region and also across Asia. 

My hope is, that once the industrial companies see how easy it is and relatively inexpensive from a capital expenditure standpoint, there will be no barriers to achieving this level of emission control in all corners of the world.  It really is time for the global industry to take notice and to clean up the skies. SOLVAir® Solutions are designed for supporting them in this transformation.