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Biotech Innovation Goes Centre-stage at Environmental Protection Expo

Biotechnology solutions to a range of pollution legacy issues predominated at this year's Guangzhou International Environmental Protection Industry Expo, with tackling indoor air pollution also high on the agenda of many attendees.

Photo: Environmental innovation on show: A high-pressure compressor.
Environmental innovation on show: A high-pressure compressor.
Photo: Environmental innovation on show: A high-pressure compressor.
Environmental innovation on show: A high-pressure compressor.

Emerging biotechnologies pretty much stole the show at this year's Guangzhou International Environmental Protection Industry Expo. Significantly, there was a notably strong offering from domestic exhibitors, with all of them keen to showcase their latest innovations.

Green innovation and development were the themes of this year's event, with the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences and the Guangzhou Environmental Protection Industry Association sharing lead billing as the primary sponsors. Across the crowded halls, there was a wide range of pollution-busting technologies to be had, with an array of exhibitors specialising in sewage treatment, air filtration and environmental monitoring.

Biotechnology was very much at the forefront of this year's event, with a number of exhibitors only too keen to highlight the year-on-year improvements to their products and technologies. Several companies even went as far as to present total environmental protection solutions, suitable for whole cities or towns, on their stands. That aside, the other common motifs this year were drives to improve resource utilisation and several prime examples of how to make better use of green and low-carbon technologies.

Biotechnology Becomes Big Business

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

In light of this, it was understandable that the majority of exhibitors were optimistic about the sector's future prospects. This confidence has been further underlined by policy support and new environmental legislation on the part of the Chinese government. Overall, biotechnology has come to be seen as an increasingly important element in the bid to ensure greater environmental protection.

Looking to take a lead here was Foshan-based Bio-Form Technology, a high-tech environmental company with biotechnology very much at its core. According to Li Guotian, the company's Technology Engineer, its Nitrobacteria system makes use of natural processes to decompose pollutants. Certain wastewater pollutants are food for this naturally occurring product, which acts to decompose the harmful substances as its bacteria content reproduces.

Photo: Bio-Form’s Nitrobacteria.
Bio-Form's Nitrobacteria.
Photo: Bio-Form’s Nitrobacteria.
Bio-Form's Nitrobacteria.
Photo: Indoor air purification.
Indoor air purification.
Photo: Indoor air purification.
Indoor air purification.

Li sees the biological approach as very much the way forward for wastewater treatment. Although physical and chemical methods can produce quick results, they can result in secondary pollution, while the operating cost tends to be on the high side. Added to that, in many cases the pollutants have not in fact been decomposed, merely removed from the wastewater for disposal elsewhere.

Traditional wastewater treatment requires the use of special equipment and chemicals and involves the use of a physical-chemical technique to separate out the harmful substances and turn them into secondary pollutants, which are generally easier to deal with. Bio-Form, though, sees its Nitrobacteria approach as inherently greener.

Nitrobacteria acts to convert some of the pollutants into carbon dioxide and water, while absorbing any other malign particles. When Nitrobacteria eventually dies, the pollutants it has absorbed become sludge, an organic substance that can be used as compost for growing plants. The company's method is said to be able to turn one ton of wastewater into 10g 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 for it across all aspects of the environmental protection industry. Outlining a recent success story, she said Coats Shenzhen, one of the company's clients, not only met its required sewage discharge standards but also saved RMB3.6 million in flocculating agent costs simply by switching to Bio-Form's microbial agents.

Efficient and Environmental

Another company keen to highlight its more recent innovations was Utaly Environmental Technologies, with the Guangzhou-based business showcasing its sludge-drying and reduction technology. According to You Weijian, a Senior Manager in Utaly's International Department, its system involves a number of different 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% 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 is said to take 12 hours to thicken 150,000 tons of sludge using traditional technology, it only takes two hours when 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 tons, the plant is estimated to save RMB1.4 million in sludge transportation cost and RMB3 million in decontamination expenses every year thanks to its use of Utaly's system.

Qingdao ODO Environmental Technologies Co was another company keen to showcase its high-efficiency environmental products. According to staff on the company's stand, ODO's oxyhydroxide decontamination processor is efficient, fast, low cost and produces no environmentally-damaging by-products.

Developed in-house by ODO, the processor can be used in a wide variety of situations where foul smelling air is a problem and acts to eliminate both odour and bacteria. The processor is said to quickly remove odour through an oxidising solution, giving a claimed deodorising rate of 82.5%, compared with the 10.4% typically achieved by using a plant extract-based system.

Photo: Ousei’s urban recycling system.
Ousei's urban recycling system.
Photo: Ousei’s urban recycling system.
Ousei's urban recycling system.
Photo: Competitor comparisons courtesy of Ousei.
Competitor comparisons courtesy of Ousei.
Photo: Captoin 5.
Competitor comparisons courtesy of Ousei.

Resource recycling and applied recycling in the production of farm produce, food, and aquatic products was another sector well-represented this year. Shanghai's Ousei Water Solution Company, for instance, had on offer a high-concentration gas displacement facility, while it was also debuting a conceptual model of its integrated urban recycling system at the show.

Over on its stand, the company arranged three cylindrical water tanks as part of a demonstration of its own technology compared the that of two other companies, labelled only as 'A' and 'B'. Impressively, the demonstration showed that Ousei's complete gas dissolution device produced no bubbles, while the traditional micro-porous diffusion aerator and the micro-porous diffuser, used by companies A and B, produced large, visible bubbles.

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 several 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

Photo: Techand’s microforest purifier.
Techand's microforest purifier.
Photo: Techand’s microforest purifier.
Techand's microforest purifier.

According to a number of reports, around 6.5 million people die prematurely each year as a result of outdoor or indoor air pollution. Tellingly, this far exceeds the combined death toll resulting from AIDS and malaria. In light of this, indoor air pollution is increasingly becoming an issue for mainland consumers. Recognising this, several exhibitors had on offer a wide range of equipment for tackling this particular problem.

One such solution came courtesy of the smart microforest natural ecosystem purifiers on show from Shenzhen Techand Environment Human Settlement Technology. Its home use purifier has a notably sleek appearance and comes complete with live plants growing inside. By accessing the smart touch-screen console at the top, owners can easily nurture and water the plants.

According Ling Hongmei, Techand's representative in Guangzhou, the company's purifier is quite unlike traditional air purifiers in that it combines ecological purification by 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 the indoor air index in real time and can raise humidity when required. To date, the company has launched three different purifiers, all designed to meet the varying needs of public buildings, hospitals, hotels, offices and homes.

Photo: Legend’s IoT-ready deodoriser.
Legend's IoT-ready deodoriser.
Photo: Legend’s IoT-ready deodoriser.
Legend's IoT-ready deodoriser.

Another company focussing on indoor air pollution was Hangzhou Legend Environmental Science and Technology. This year it was exhibiting its plant extract smart deodoriser, complete with smart management-compliant IoT technology. According to Chen Bin, the company's Regional Sales Manager, its deodorisers are suitable for use at tourist attractions, public toilets, schools and hospitals.

It works by vaporising essential oils extracted from dozens of plants, with this then used to eliminate harmful substances in the air. With every Legend product IoT-compliant, the deodorisers can be remotely operated via smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs.

The 10th China Guangzhou International Environmental Protection Industry Expo (CEPEE) took place at the China Import and Export Fair Complex from 17-19 August. The event attracted companies from across the world, including attendees from the US, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Canada.

Xing Bin, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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