2015 Revised Environmental Law and Business Opportunities
The world has long since forgotten the Kyoto Protocol; environmental issues have been swept off the news agenda. The environment has in fact not been on the radar of many of the developing and newly industrialised nations (as well as the USA). Chief among them is China which has not changed its environmental policy in 25 years.
That all changed on the 1st of January 2015 when new environmental laws have come into effect. Opportunities have been arising as a consequence of the revised Environmental Law. For business, compliance with local and national legislation means no fines to pay, and at a reputational level, business will not be accused of polluting or harming the local environment or community. More importantly, growth in cleaner technologies, Clean Development Mechanisms, etc. has created opportunity for environmental industry. The 12th Five Year Plan placed important emphasis on transitioning to a low carbon and green economy, and the Government is supporting this and helping create more platforms through capital injections. It is a huge market, not just in China, around the world also.
Xi Jinping has declared war on pollution especially: smog. Many of the industrial cities in China have been plagued by the air pollution problems caused by factories. Some of the major changes that have come into effect:
- No limit on fines imposed on polluters. It used to be the case it was cheaper to pay fines than to install expensive environmentally friendly equipment.
- Local government and officials are responsible for covering up environmental breaches or not making information public.
- Calls on the public to “adopt a low-carbon and frugal lifestyle and perform environmental protection duties.”
The factories that are powering China to become the next global superpower are creating problems for many of the people. I am going to look at 4 different but very specific problems that need to be considered and can be solved with the right technology.
- Sulphur removal
- Styrene decomposition
- Spray painting
- Waste from the plating process
Sulphur emits into the air cause a reaction with the air forming sulphuric acid, this makes rain acidic. This has a hugely detrimental impact on the environment.
Styrene is a colourless oily liquid that evaporates easily and has a sweet smell, although high concentrations confer a less pleasant odour. It is regarded as a "hazardous chemical", especially in case of eye contact, skin contact, ingestion and inhalation. Chronic exposure to styrene leads to tiredness/lethargy, memory deficits, headaches and vertigo. The US Environment Protection Agency [EPA] does not have a cancer classification for styrene, but currently is evaluating styrene's cancer-causing potential through its EPA.
Metal is painted to prevent rusting but the waste from this process is discharged into rivers which can cause problems. Spray painting is a common industrial process which produces vast amount of waste water which needs to be treated.
There are a many different methods for metal painting which can be employed. Below are just a few which are currently in use.
- Electro-less Plating and Immersion Plating
- Chemical and Electrochemical Conversion
- Cladding – can be used instead of electroplating, producing less waste but creates a thicker coat and the relevant machinery is of higher cost.
- Case Hardening
- Dip/Galvanized – A relatively cheap process but does not always produce the best results.
- Metallic Coatings (Vapour Deposition)
There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the waste produced from metal painting. Thermal spray coatings and vapour deposition are by far less waste producing technologies and produce a higher quality. The downside of these processes is the cost. Another change that can be made is to remove the use of some very harmful substances, to name a few
There are also a number of methods which can be employed for treatment of the waste water that is produced:
- Ion exhcnage
- Reverse osmosis
The current technique that is widely adopted in China is Active Carbon Filtration, but there are many other processes that can be used to tackle this problem:
- Sand/anthracite filters
- Remineralisation filters
- Reverse Osmosis
- Ozone disinfection
Anthracite is a hard, compact variety of coal that has the highest carbon content, its fine particles are used as filter media.
Remineralisation refers to the transformation of organic molecules to inorganic forms, usually involving carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus.
Osmosis is a natural process that the fluid moves from low to high solute concentrations through a semipermeable membrane for chemical potential equilibrium. Formally, reverse osmosis is the process of forcing a solvent from a region of high solute concentration through a semipermeable membrane to a region of low solute concentration by applying a pressure in excess of the osmotic pressure.
A wider range of organisms is killed by ozonation than by chlorination. It also achieves excellent removal of taste and odors. The reactions, in general, are more rapid than that of chlorination processes. A major disadvantage is that due to its instability, ozone must be generated before use and the equipment and operating costs can be quite high.
These different processes can be used together to create a solution to remove poisons and otherwise undesirable traits from the waste water.
There are a number of different companies which have developed technologies to tackle these problems.
Sulphur removal (Oil & Gas)
E.I.Tec. GmbH Energy and Environmental Technology
Flue gas purification
EMIT Ercole Marelli Impianti Tecnologici S.p.A.
Water treatment (Heavy metals)
PPC Air Pollution Control Systems
Ashland Deutschland GmbH
Waste water from paint treatment
Beckart Environmental Intl. Ltd.
Waste water from paint treatment
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