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Integrated Solutions See Mainland Environmental Sector Come of Age

With the environmental sector maturing, buoyed by supportive government policies and generous funding, the technology now on offer is far more comprehensive than the rudimentary systems of the early days of the industry.

Photo: Integrated and interactive: Infore Enviro’s water quality monitoring system.
Integrated and interactive: Infore Enviro's water quality monitoring system.
Photo: Integrated and interactive: Infore Enviro’s water quality monitoring system.
Integrated and interactive: Infore Enviro's water quality monitoring system.

Integrated environmental solution suppliers pretty much stole the show at this year's International Environmental (IE) Expo. Returning once again to Guangzhou, as well as showcasing environmental equipment, the 2017 event threw something of a spotlight onto one-stop integrated environmental solutions. In addition, many of the latest innovations in environmentally-friendly technology were on offer, with digital products – particularly those with Internet of Things (IoT) compatibility – at something of a premium.

The mainland's environmental-protection sector has long-benefitted from central government support, with many of the stringent eco-monitoring and pollution-prevention measures now in place having bolstered the growth of the country's green industries over the years. Nurtured by government endorsement and funded via a number of compulsory state-backed environmental initiatives, China's green-technology sector has matured considerably, evolving from offering rudimentary standalone equipment into delivering the kind of comprehensive, integrated one-stop environmental solutions now required in both the public and private sector.

One company that has clearly evolved along just such lines is Grandblue Bioenvironmental Technology, a Guangdong-based supplier of integrated solutions for solid-waste processing. At present, the company's services extend from treating solid waste and sewage to working to clean up residential/commercial supplies of water and natural gas. According to Wu Bin, the company's Regional Marketing Manager, Grandblue's business scope extends across solid-waste treatment, sewage treatment, tap water and natural-gas supplies.

Keen to outline the scale of the challenge facing the environmental sector, Wu said: "The kitchen-waste treatment market is huge. In our Foshan treatment centre alone, we are processing 300 tons of kitchen waste and 30 tons of gutter oil every day. We are offering a fully integrated service – extending from the front-end collection of kitchen waste to middle-end transportation and back-end processing and treatment – which is what the market seems to want right now.

"Our integrated approach has also made it easy for the local government to monitor the process, while having also improved the efficiency with which local restaurants and hotels handle their kitchen waste. At the end of the day, it has also reduced costs in terms of both labour and resources."

Photo: Grandblue’s smart waste-management system.
Grandblue's smart waste-management system.
Photo: Grandblue’s smart waste-management system.
Grandblue's smart waste-management system.

Wu's faith in the benefits of using properly integrated systems was shared by Li Xinqiang, Deputy Marketing Director of the Infore Environment Technology Group, a Guangdong-based supplier of cooling systems and connectivity products. Addressing the evolution of the sector, he said: "The mainland environmental industry has developed from just selling equipment to providing turnkey integrated environmental solutions.

"With regard to controlling and treating river pollution, for instance, companies used to solely offer local monitoring equipment. Now, though, we provide a solution that can intelligently manage a whole river system through a combination of a number of different technologies."

Li believes that only an integrated online solution, linking IoT-configured units and employing big-data analytics, can properly flag-up environmental problems and implement effective counter-measures. As the competition to provide such a service is now intense, he said his company now had to invest heavily in R&D every year in order to maintain and build its market share.

Environmental Monitoring

Seen as the gatekeeper for all environmental protection and regulation initiatives, environmental monitoring has now become the cornerstone of the industry. Given the significant role it plays – and will continue to play – it was perhaps unsurprising that such systems would be pretty much ubiquitous at this year's event.

For its part, Infore Enviro had on offer its proprietary range of water quality, water conservancy, soil, fume and air-quality monitoring systems. According to Li, the company's monitoring system allows it to test water quality along the entire course of a river by setting up several monitoring points along key stretches, with the results easily accessible via a number of dedicated websites, with several micro-websites continuously monitoring the sewage pipes. At the same time, video monitors can be used to track any incidences of dumping or other environmentally unfriendly activity.

Photo: Promoting its core business: Infore Enviro.
Promoting its core business: Infore Enviro.
Photo: Promoting its core business: Infore Enviro.
Promoting its core business: Infore Enviro.

Through a combination of online and IoT inputs, as well as big-data analysis, changes in water quality can be detected at an early stage, with the source of any such contamination then easy to determine. Even if a business or individual is engaged in the covert discharge of sewage, the data-analysis capabilities of Infore Enviro's systems should be sufficient to identify the offender.

Overall, the majority of this year's exhibitors had incorporated online and IoT capabilities into their systems, regardless of whether they were engaged in environmental monitoring or not. In the case of Grandblue, digital technology plays a key role in its real-time tracking system, which continuously displays the location and status of its fleet of kitchen-waste collection trucks. This not only allows the process to be remotely monitored by the relevant local government officers, but also sees all of the routes and scheduling of the trucks continuously optimised, with new pick-up requests automatically factored in via a live WeChat link with the hotels/restaurants using the service.

According to Wu, the company also makes good use of all of the big data harvested from the daily interaction of the trucks and the collection/delivery points. Once properly analysed, he said, this allowed for future needs – including the number of trucks, most efficient routes and collection frequency – to be precisely predicted and automatically implemented.

Greener Environments

With creating and sustaining green habitats now one of the priorities in the mainland environmental industry, a significant tranche of this year's show was given over to the technology emerging in this sector. In particular, Guangzhou EP Environmental Engineering, a subsidiary of the China Lesso Group, one of the mainland's largest producers of building materials, had on offer an integrated system for the thermal desorption of semivolatile organic compound (SVOC) contaminated soil and the catalyzed decomposition of persistent organic pollutant (POP) waste.

Photo: Lesso’s latest range.
Lesso's latest range.
Photo: Lesso’s latest range.
Lesso's latest range.
Photo: Water-testing solutions.
Water-testing solutions.
Photo: Water-testing solutions.
Water-testing solutions.

Jointly developed by the company and Beijing's Tsinghua University, the two systems both utilise high-efficiency, low-energy consumption, while having a 0% dust production rate. With the desorption rate of organic compounds in contaminated soil now said to be in excess of 99.99%, both systems have been designed to rejuvenate soil contaminated by volatile organic compounds with a low boiling point, such as gasoline and benzene, as well as soil contaminated by low-volatile organic compounds with a high boiling point. They are also designed to help restore soil contaminated by chlorinated pesticides and chlorinated organic compounds, as well as by sludge or sediment.

In addition to effectively harnessing new technology, the proper utilisation of all available resources is now seen as increasingly important. In light of this, Wu said Grandblue was pursuing a policy of helping to establish eco-efficient industrial parks. To date, it has constructed a solid-waste treatment industrial park in the Nanhai district of Foshan, which generates power by burning up to 3,000 tons of domestic waste a day.

At the same time, while treating kitchen waste in the park, storable, renewable clean energy, in the form of biogas, is generated as a byproduct of the anaerobic digestion process. Similarly, the biogas residue and biogas slurry, produced following the chemical reaction, are high in nutrients and can be recycled to help grow crops.

Wu also maintained that Grandblue's processing systems could separate kitchen waste with high water content from domestic waste, which, in turn, raises the calorific value and power generation efficiency of domestic waste. Ultimately, this reduces the risk of underground water resources being polluted by contaminated domestic waste and thus reduces the emission of greenhouse gases.

Another company looking to highlight its industrial-waste processing expertise was Dongjiang Environmental, a Guangdong-based business licensed to treat 44 types of hazardous waste and more than 200 varieties of waste overall. As of March 2017, the company was officially designated as having the capacity to treat more than 1.5 million tons of hazardous waste per annum.

Qingdao Jiaming Measurement and Control Technology, meanwhile, was in Guangzhou to showcase the facilities of its mobile water quality testing lab. Vehicle-mounted, the unit boasts an operating zone, an instrument inspection zone and a sampling zone.

Photo: Targeting river pollution at source.
Targeting river pollution at source.
Photo: Targeting river pollution at source.
Targeting river pollution at source.
Photo: Jiaming’s mobile water quality lab.
Jiaming's mobile water quality lab.
Photo: Jiaming’s mobile water quality lab.
Jiaming's mobile water quality lab.

The International Environmental (IE) Expo Guangzhou 2017 took place from 20-22 September at the China Import and Export Fair Complex. More than 450 exhibitors from 30 countries and regions took part in the event.

Xing Bin, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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