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Bio Diversity and Green Know-how on Show at Eco Expo Asia 2014

With the eco-industries maturing apace, a freshly holistic approach characterised this year's Hong Kong-based Eco Expo Asia, with many global and local players keen to showcase innovative solutions to an array of environmental challenges.

Photo: Keen and green: The 2014 Eco Expo Asia.
Keen and green: The 2014 Eco Expo Asia.
Photo: Keen and green: The 2014 Eco Expo Asia.
Keen and green: The 2014 Eco Expo Asia.

The sentiment at this year's Eco Expo Asia was perhaps best expressed by Audrey Au of Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department. Addressing delegates, she said: "Each aspect of the environment is as important as the next. There is no point in focussing on one aspect at the expense of others."

Pretty much in keeping with this ethos, a truly diverse range of companies – many offering wholly original solutions to a variety of environmental challenges – all made their presence felt at Eco Expo Asia. These were showcased over four themed days – Global Green Initiatives, Waste Management and Recycling, Green Building, Energy Efficiency, and Energy and Green Living. The solutions on offer ranged from green energy systems designed to power cities, to a pedal-powered energy source that can charge domestic devices.

As might have been expected, the Expo saw particularly strong representation from many of the developed nations, most notably from Japan, Korea, Scandinavia, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, the UK and the US. Typically, these countries were keen to offer advanced technological solutions for both industrial and domestic energy systems. Companies offering ecologically friendly energy systems were particularly well-represented, with several such systems designed to solve more than one environmental problem.

Martin Sust, Project Manager at Steifel (Guangdong) Environmental Protection Engineering Co Ltd (SGEPECL), a Sino-Swiss joint venture said: "One of China's largest environmental concerns is waste." In line with this, SGEPECL had on show various systems capable of turning waste into energy, including its co-incineration of grate combustion, combined with a sludge combustion rotary kiln.

According to Sust, the company's system simplifies the process of sludge disposal, an area that is beset with environmental concerns, including noxious odours, toxic gases and ground water pollution. The system utilises hot gases from waste flues to dry out sludge, making it far easier to handle. Ingeniously circular, the system incorporates sludge incineration into the larger process of waste incineration, while utilising the power of waste incineration to overcome the problems and difficulties that occur in sludge management. More importantly, waste sludge is turned into fuel, thus both reducing waste as well as generating energy.

Another biofuel waste reduction solution was showcased by PM of Japan. Its high efficiency biogas power operation system, also uses waste as a fuel source. Typically, it can process food residues, livestock excreta, sewage sludge and other biological resources. Unlike existing biogas systems, however, this Japanese technology uses high temperatures and pressure to speed up the cell destruction of biological material. Bacteria capable of surviving the heat and pressure is then introduced into the biomaterial. This acts to remove the ammonia, thus facilitating the production of methane, the target gas. The system's designers estimate that the process can improve production efficiency four-fold.

Photo: Amazing Green’s amazing greens.
Amazing Green's amazing greens.
Photo: Amazing Green’s amazing greens.
Amazing Green's amazing greens.
Photo: The BEST Time Energy Management System.
The BEST Time Energy Management System.
Photo: The BEST Time Energy Management System.
The BEST Time Energy Management System.

Italy's Area Impianti also produces energy from biomass. It was its air pollution reduction solutions, however, that attracted the most attention at Eco Expo Asia. The company's flue gas treatment plants are used in thermal production processes, forming part of a waste-and-biomass to-energy conversion process. Its wet de-acidification system, for instance, eliminates acidic gases through the saturation of the flue via water injection. The firm was also showing a scrubbing tower, made from acid-resistant materials, with the processed gases having greatly reduced acidic content. This lowers air pollution levels and reduces the resultant pollutants, notably acid rain.

A very different problem was being addressed by Amazing Greens Hydroponics, a Hong Kong firm specialising in organic farming. Its proprietary system uses hydroponic technology and liquid organic fertilisers, with hydroponics substituting for soil as the growing medium. This perfectly balanced, ph-adjusted nutrient solution allows the plant to absorb its food through its roots with very little effort, as opposed to soil where the roots have to search out the nutrients and extract them.

The energy the plant saves through reduced root production is then readily available for fruit and flower propagation, resulting in a higher yield for growers. Plants grown in such a fashion reach maturity up to 40% faster than those cultivated under traditional methods. The produce may also be safer to eat, as it is free from the contaminants prevalent in traditional farming, including air pollution, pesticides, herbicides and the heavy metals often present in water and soil.

Air pollution was also an issue addressed by the green vehicles on display. Among the many featured this year were two Japanese offerings – Hino's hybrid truck and Toyota's Prius range. From BMW, there was the i3, a luxury private electric vehicle, which is said to not only set new ecological standards, but also provide the level of luxury that consumers expect from the marque.

BMW is confident that the driving experience is made even more direct and intense thanks to its use of a single pedal doubling as both the accelerator and brake. The vehicle is equipped with two driving modes – ECO PRO and ECO PRO+ – that ensure efficient energy management and, therefore, optimised range.

The i3 has its own dedicated app that makes it possible to remotely access vehicle information such as battery charge status, electric range and the most efficient route. The i3 also has an optional navigation system, capable of providing this information immediately via an onboard screen.

Powered by an engine capable of producing 130-160 BHP on a single charge, the vehicle has a range of between 130-160 kilometres. Engineers have also been careful to use renewable materials wherever possible, including open pore eucalyptus wood and leather tanned with olive leaf extract, an eco-friendly, fossil fuel-free manufacturing process.

On the information technology front, British Energy Saving Technology (BEST) showcased an eco-friendly solution known as the Eniscope Real Time Energy Management System. Comprised of web-based digital meters coupled to an interface computer, this system separates and processes information with respect to energy consumption on a second-by-second basis. This information is then exported, via the Internet, to a suitable device, allowing real time monitoring of energy consumption.

The system puts the consumer in overall control of energy consumption, allowing for energy saving opportunities to be easily identified. It also highlights energy intensive equipment, eliminates hours of wasted energy, (equipment running past service times), makes visible energy efficient equipment and helps target reductions. It also provides the end user with an historical record for analysis purposes.

Other notable innovations included decking made from polypropylene chips. These were as solid and durable as wood, with the added advantage of being fire resistant. There was also a cooling and heating system that pumps water through aluminium rods. According to the system's designers, this uses half the energy of conventional air-conditioners.

Also of interest was a microwave-based food-waste processor from Korea. Its designers claim the machine can reduce the water content of food waste by up to 70%, making the residual product easier to store and transport. A particular show favourite, though, was the E-Gen Bike, which creates peddle-generated electricity. The resultant charge from the bicycle can then be stored in a battery, which can then be used to power small devices, such as mobile phones or laptops.

Photo: All aboard: The green bandwagon continues to roll.
All aboard: The green bandwagon continues to roll.
Photo: All aboard: The green bandwagon continues to roll.
All aboard: The green bandwagon continues to roll.

Eco Expo Asia 2014 took place at the Asia-World Expo in Hong Kong from 29 October-1 November 2014. This year's event welcomed almost 300 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions, as well as 50 buying missions from 46 territories. Eco Expo Asia, was jointly organised by HKTDC, Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd, and the Environment Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government.

Marvin Wallace, Special Correspondent, Hong Kong

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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