Israel Wachs receives 2001 Clean Air Excellence Award

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 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 [] 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.