Professor Israel Wachs of Lehigh University’s Chemical Engineering Department has received a 2001 Clean Air Excellence Award. The EPA 2001 Clean Air Excellence Awards program honors outstanding, innovative efforts that help to make progress in achieving cleaner air. The research, sponsored by Georgia-Pacific Corp., has provided the pulp industry with a potentially profitable and innovative third alternative method of processing their waste gases. Using a new process and catalyst developed at Lehigh, the methyl alcohol and mercaptans can be converted to formaldehyde, a building-block chemical used for the adhesives, which find application in the plywood industry. [See www.pollutionengineering.com or N. Moretti’s article in Pollution Engineering, Jan. 2002, pp 24-28]. The waste gases are simply processed through a plant, which is similar in design to a conventional formaldehyde plant that utilizes commercial-grade methyl alcohol as a feed material. The novel environmentally benign process was conceptually developed and experimentally proven on a laboratory scale (see US Patent Nos. 5,907,066 and 6,198,005 B1 to I.E. Wachs/Lehigh University). The pilot plant studies were performed at Georgia-Pacific’s Brunswick, GA pulp mill on the real industrial waste streams.
The Clean Air Excellence Awards [http://www.epa.gov/oar/caaac/program.html] Program, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Air and Radiation, was established in 2000 at the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC). The CAAAC is a policy-level advisory group to the EPA. The Awards Program annually recognizes and honors outstanding, innovative efforts that help to make progress in achieving cleaner air.
The award criteria are: (1) the technology is commercially viable and can be widely applied, (2) the technology is cost-effective relative to other air pollution technologies that already exist and (3) the technology is developed at the prototype stage or beyond. In 2000, XononTM Cool Combustion System – Catalytica Combustion Systems, Inc. received an award for developing the XononTM Cool Combustion system to reduce nitrogen oxides by 90 percent. XononTM prevents the formation of nitrogen oxides before they can form and has been applied in Santa Clara, California in an industrial gas turbine.