Maui’s Westec Environmental Solutions, LLC chosen by Iberdrola for Carbon Capture Innovation
For Jeff Reiss, Vice-President of Westec Environmental Solutions (WES), LLC of Kahului, the recent announcement that Iberdrola, a Spanish utility company, is investing in their technology marks a watershed in the company’s quest to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide. “Our technology represents a potential breakthrough for reducing smokestack emissions and capturing CO2 before it is released into the atmosphere,” says Reiss.
WES and Iberdrola announced their partnership for carbon capture technology in early June. Iberdrola is the 5th largest utility in the world and the largest renewable energy company, with operations in Europe, Latin America, and the United States. The partnership follows WES’s success as winner in October 2010 of Iberdrola’s inaugural Perseo Awards in the CO2 Capture and Clean Combustion category.
Iberdrola recognized the importance of the WES Absorbertm technology for its ability to capture CO2 from combustion flue gas in electric power generation, and thus fight the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The WES Absorbertm will offer significant capital cost reductions over conventional CO2 capture systems by reducing the size of the absorbers by up to 50%. The WES Absorbertm also consumes significantly less energy than existing technologies.
“We are delighted to have Iberdrola as a partner,” said Frank Huebner, CEO of WES. “This is a recognition that the WES Absorbertm stands to revolutionize absorption across a wide range of industries. The investment will fast track our commercialization program through funding of our first pilot projects in carbon capture. The first of these is now scheduled to be built in early 2012,” added Huebner.
WES’s Research and Development lab is based in Kahului, and the company has corporate offices in Chicago and London. It has also partnered with international engineering firm Process Group Pty Ltd in Melbourne, Australia.
The company’s intellectual property and research operations grew out of Peletex, which was established on Maui in 2000. Its history of particle and gas capture began with a foam filtration system for removing dry wall dust, developed by inventor and Chief Technical Officer, Roy Pellegrin. With funding assistance from High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) from 2005-2007, Peletex developed the technology into a cutting-edge indoor air quality filter.
In 2006, Peletex succeeded in developing a system to capture anthrax spores using decontaminant foam developed at Sandia National Labs and the Aqueous Froth air filtration technology. This technology is based on heterogeneous nucleation, which is the process that nature uses to form raindrops. It developed from Pellegrin’s observation of nature and smoke cloud development from Maui’s sugar cane fires, which are set when the crop is ready for harvesting.
Peletex partnered with WES in 2009 to take the next step in marketing and management to an international level. Interest in, and recognition for, the technologies developed by Peletex came mainly from outside the United States. In 2010, a relationship was established with Process Group Pty, a specialized engineering company and world leader in carbon capture and industrial gas separation processes. The partnership’s goal is to develop carbon capture for a coal-fired plant pilot project in Australia, a country that not only has enormous reserves of coal, but a strong commitment to developing clean energy and efficient carbon capture.
Following selection of WES as a winner of the PERSEO award, Iberdrola contracted for a due diligence study of the technology through Imperial College, London. The technology passed with flying colors. “WES, LLC offers a CO2 absorption technology that uses smaller gas absorption devices than the current industry standard, while achieving equal effectiveness for less cost,” stated Agustín Delgado, Director of R&D for Iberdrola. “This system applies to all industrial processes that require gas/liquid transfer through absorption, and has been designed to optimize the gas/liquid mass transfer processes in a wide variety of market sectors and applications.”
WES plans to use Iberdrola’s investment to develop the technology for global market applications.
For more information on WES Absorbertm technology: www.wes-worldwide.com