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Beating Pollution through Biotech

Biotechnology was very much at the forefront during August’s Guangzhou International Environmental Protection Industry Expo, with many exhibitors keen to highlight the latest improvements to their products and technologies. Several companies even featured total environmental protection solutions, suitable for entire cities or towns. Other themes this year centred on improving resource utilisation and making better use of green and low-carbon technologies.

Big Business

Bio-Form's Nitrobacteria
Bio-Form's Nitrobacteria
Indoor air purification
Indoor air purification

According to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics, a number of environmental protection business sectors registered good growth – including energy-saving, which expanded 11 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2016. This was some five percentage points higher than the average growth rate of all other industries.

Confidence among the majority of exhibitors was further heightened by government policy support and new environmental legislation, with biotechnology an increasingly important element of implementing environmental protection.

Looking to take the lead was Foshan-based Bio-Form Technology, a high-tech environmental company with biotechnology at its core. According to Li Guotian, the company's Technology Engineer, its nitrobacteria system uses natural processes to decompose pollutants. Wastewater pollutants are food for this naturally occurring product, which decomposes the harmful substances during reproduction of the bacteria.

Mr Li sees the biological approach as the way forward for wastewater treatment. Physical and chemical methods can produce quick results, but can result in secondary pollution and can be more costly. In many cases, the pollutants have not in fact been decomposed, but merely removed from the wastewater for disposal elsewhere.

Traditional wastewater treatment requires using special equipment and chemicals and a physical-chemical technique to separate harmful substances that are turned into secondary pollutants, which are generally easier to manage. Bio-Form, however, says its nitrobacteria approach is inherently greener.

Nitrobacteria acts to convert some of the pollutants into carbon dioxide and water, while absorbing other polluting particles. When the nitrobacteria eventually die, the pollutants they absorb become sludge, an organic substance that can be used as compost. The company's agent can reportedly convert one tonne of wastewater into 10 grammes of sludge, while taking only 12 hours to treat domestic sewage.

According to Zhao Yuanwen, Bio-Form's Marketing Director, the company will continue to focus on biotechnology, seeking further applications across all aspects of the environmental protection industry. Citing a recent success story, she said one of its clients, Coats Shenzhen, not only met its required sewage discharge standards, it also saved Rmb3.6 million in flocculating agent costs simply by switching to Bio-Form's microbial agents.

Efficient and Environmental

Ousei's urban recycling system
Ousei's urban recycling system
Competitor comparisons courtesy of Ousei
Competitor comparisons courtesy of Ousei

Guangzhou-based Utaly Environmental Technologies showcased its sludge-drying and reduction technology. According to You Weijian, a Senior Manager in Utaly's International Department, the system involves several processes, including fluid feeding, efficient concentration, fine quenching, controlled pressure filtration, low-temperature drying and graded discharge.

Ultimately, the unfermented treated sludge has a moisture content of less than 40 per cent and little toxic odour. The treated sludge can then be further processed into cement, gardening soil, cover soil, solid fuel or a number of other products. While it takes 12 hours to thicken 150,000 tonnes of sludge using traditional technology, it only takes two hours using Utaly's technology.

This system is already in place at the Shijing Sewage Treatment Plant in Guangzhou. With a treatment capacity of 100,000 tonnes, the plant is estimated to save Rmb1.4 million in sludge transportation cost and Rmb3 million in decontamination expenses every year.

Qingdao ODO Environmental Technologies Co, meanwhile, featured its oxyhydroxide decontamination processor, which it said is efficient, fast, low-cost and produces no environmentally damaging by-product.

Developed in-house, the ODO processor can be used to eliminate odour and bacteria. The processor is said to quickly remove odour through an oxidising solution with a deodorising rate of 82.5 per cent, compared with the 10.4 per cent typically achieved by using a plant extract-based system.

Resource recycling and applied recycling in growing farm produce and making food and aquatic products was another sector well-represented this year. Shanghai's Ousei Water Solution Company, for instance, showcased a high-concentration gas displacement facility, and launched a conceptual model of its integrated urban recycling system.

Ousei's integrated urban recycling system conceptual model, meanwhile, showed a high-concentration gas displacement facility connected to residential areas, garbage treatment plants, rivers, food-processing plants, seaweed farms, power-generating plants, sewage-treatment plants and other facilities. According to the company's representatives, its high-concentration gas facility can displace carbon dioxide through combustion at garbage incineration plants. This can then be used for cultivating seaweed, while the displaced methane can be used for power generation.

Indoor Air Pollution

Techand's microforest purifier
Techand's microforest purifier

Several exhibitors offered a wide range of equipment for tackling indoor air pollution, including the smart microforest natural ecosystem purifier from Shenzhen Tech and Environment Human Settlement Technology. Its sleek home-use purifier comes with live plants, which owners can nurture by accessing the smart touch-screen console at the top.

According to Ling Hongmei, Techand's representative in Guangzhou, the company's unique purifier combines ecological purification using plants with water-cycle purification technology. By placing plants with high absorption and decomposition properties inside the purifier, the twin effects can be achieved simultaneously, while also acting as an attractive feature within the indoor environment.

The system also monitors in real time the indoor air index and can raise humidity when required. To date, the company has launched three types of purifiers that are suitable for public buildings, hospitals, hotels, offices and homes.

Legend's IoT-ready deodoriser
Legend's IoT-ready deodoriser

Another company focused on indoor air pollution was Hangzhou Legend Environmental Science and Technology, which this year exhibited its plant extract smart deodoriser, featuring smart management-compliant IoT technology. According to Chen Bin, the company's Regional Sales Manager, its deodorisers are suited for use at tourist attractions, public toilets, schools and hospitals. It works by vaporising essential oils extracted from dozens of plants, which are used to eliminate harmful substances in the air. With every IoT-compliant Legend product, the deodorisers can be remotely operated via smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs.

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Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
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