Unique air filter system cuts exhaust pollutants

Dean Palmer reports on a unique emissions control system for cutting pollutants from industrial processes, which may also find use as a truck or car exhaust filter

Dean Palmer reports on a unique emissions control system for cutting pollutants from industrial processes, which may also find use as a truck or car exhaust filter A Welsh company has developed a unique, environmentally-friendly, air filtration and pollution abatement system, which reduces unwanted pollutants from manufacturing processes to levels well below the requirements of the Kyoto agreement, and which can be scaled up or down to meet almost any industrial requirement. UK-Euro Group's new patented Oiko-F (pronounced eeko) system effectively scales down and accelerates the natural processes found in the Earth's own atmosphere, using a combination of existing technologies, including cooled cryogenics, activated carbon and wet scrubbing. Unlike most other comparable industrial air filtration systems, Oiko-F does not rely on chemicals to treat chemicals. The incoming polluted air stream enters the first section of the reaction chamber. Here, it encounters a fine mist of chilled water, which immediately condenses and falls into a water re-processing tank below, taking with it absorbed pollutants. Next, the polluted air stream flows into the second section of the reaction chamber, this time encountering larger water droplets, which have been formed inside a fine aluminium matrix. More pollutant particles are absorbed into these water droplets, which again run down into the water re-processing tank below. The air stream then continues into a third and final section, which also produces a fine mist of chilled water. Yet more of the remaining particulates are absorbed into this mist which, as in the first section, condenses and falls into the water re-processing tank at the base of the chamber. Finally, the air stream, which by now is substantially cleansed of its pollutant content, is expelled into the Earth's atmosphere via the system's exhaust. The pollutant-laden water in the re-processing tank is then recycled. First, it is pumped into a carbon tower, then to a series of sub-micron filtration vessels. These filters effectively remove all of the pollutants from the water before it is pumped back into the clean water reservoir. Here, having been chilled in the refrigeration unit, it can then be used repeatedly in the main reaction chamber for up to three months. And, because Oiko-F is designed as a modular system, the number and type of filters, as well as the number of reaction chambers can be tailored to suit the specific requirements of any industrial process. The Oiko-F's control panel includes a single switch to turn on the complete system and users can even analyse system data remotely via a simple modem. The system is not targeted at specific gases or pollutants, but treats a broad range, achieving significant reductions in all types of emissions, irrespective of the source. The company has also developed technology to trap pollutants in liquid and filtration processing which offers recovery of solvents in manufacturing processes. But there may also be benefits for the automotive industry, where the system has already been scaled down to fit car and truck exhausts. Back in 2002, emissions tests on a Ford car engine and exhaust system using one of UK-Euro Group's initial prototypes, resulted in significant reductions in unwanted pollutants. Managing director of UK-Euro Group Deane Thomas said that field trials of its industrial version of Oiko-F are already underway at six manufacturing plants around the world. These include an automotive plant, power generation, two paint shops, a rubber production plant and even a crematorium. "We're also in talks with Yamaha and Honda in Brazil to try to reduce their airborne emissions," he added. In the first commercially-installed Oiko-F system in Wales, Thomas said the cost to the client was £300,000. Thermal oxidation, the alternative emissions control technology for this particular customer, cost more than £400,000 and was not easily expandable if the company had to rapidly increase production. "The new system took just one day to assemble on site and skilled workers at the site needed no more than 15 minutes training to grasp the essentials of the system, while the more complex maintenance and servicing is carried out by us for the first two years," explained Thomas. A scaled-down version of the industrial Oiko-F system may lead to applications in other industries. When asked about the possibility of Oiko-F breaking into the automotive sector, Thomas replied: "Auto is a tough sector to crack, so we've focussed our efforts on proving the technology in the marine diesel engine market first, which has similar emissions legislation to the Kyoto Agreement. "However, back in 2002, we did have discussions with a major Tier One supplier to Premier Auto Group. Ford also invited us to its 'Big Bang' Tier One supplier conference in Detroit in April 2002. Land Rover in Coventry was also interested in seeing the technology. But I think we will focus our effort on cracking the truck exhaust market first after proving the technology in the marine sector." The technology was partially proven back in 2002, when Stockport-based firm Scientifics tested a scaled-down prototype Oiko-F on a Ford 1.6 litre multi-point injection petrol engine. The objective was to determine the effectiveness of Oiko-F at the filter exhaust. Testing was done at two sampling locations: the first at the engine exhaust manifold prior to the Oiko-F filter, and the second after the Oiko-F filter at the filter exhaust. The results were impressive. In 'engine idle' mode, the filter, on average, reduced both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions by 80%; nitrogen oxides by 39%; sulphur dioxide by 88% and particulate matter by 76%. With the engine running at 3,000 rpm, the filter still performed well, with carbon monoxide emissions cut by 75%; carbon dioxide by 80%; oxides of nitrogen by 36%; sulphur dioxide by 85%; and particulate matter by 39%. The test results are two years old but do give a good indication of how effective the Oiko-F filter could be on vehicle exhaust systems. UK-Euro Group is headquartered in Wales and was set up as a self-funded company in 2001. The company has 32 staff, with offices in New Zealand, Croatia, Spain and Brazil. The firm now has more than 400 European private investors and was invited to present its new technology at a United Nations conference on global warming in December last year. Thomas commented: "Regulations can only get more stringent. Enforcement will only get stronger and fines become more prohibitive. As a result, the market for cost effective integrated solutions such as ours can only expand on increasing demand from industry to comply in a more highly regulated environment." Pointers * The patented air filtration system reduces unwanted pollutants such as CO2 significantly by using a mixture of cooling cryogenics, activated carbon and wet scrubbing * Although the system is targeted at manufacturing plants to help cut airborne emissions, a scaled down version is planned for the automotive car and truck sector