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News Announcement of SET Technology
The following announcement appeared on PRNewswire on February 6, 1997. It is reprinted here for informational purposes only, because it discusses a promising method for decontamination and destruction of organochlorine wastes.
NEW YORK, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Picture a machine designed to destroy chemical weapons, PCBs, dioxin, pesticides, CFCs: the worst chemical wastes the world has to offer. At the waste site, individual or mixed wastes are fed into a tank that contains inexpensive, commonly used chemicals, and are instantly transformed into more environmentally benign substances. No fuss, no fanfare. The process takes place quietly, without heat or incineration, effluents, or dangerous by-products. And the solvent used is recycled for the next batch.
When the job is done, the machine is simply dismantled and moved to another site, ready to begin again.
This is no futuristic fantasy: that dream machine belongs to Commodore Applied Technologies, Inc. (AMEX: CXI), and it operates at its plant in Marengo, Ohio, about an hour's drive from Columbus. It employs solvated electron technology, or the SET(TM) process, the only non-thermal process the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for destruction of PCBs wherever, and in whatever form, they're found.
In addition, the SET process is one of only ten technologies, and one of only three environmental technologies, selected by the White House for accelerated development to assist penetration of international markets under its Rapid Commercialization Initiative (RCI) program.
The problem of chemical wastes has been called the world's greatest environmental challenge. Chemical wastes have contaminated groundwater and reservoirs, depleted the ozone layer, forced the closure of industrial plants and military bases, prevented the dredging of some of the world's major harbors, elevated cancer rates, entered the food chain and made certain foods unfit for human consumption, threatened certain species with extinction, and desolated such communities as Times Beach and Love Canal. Added together, the cost of cleaning up the chemical waste mess in the U.S., as estimated by the Environmental Business Journal, is fast approaching $500 billion.
The Commodore SET process unit is not much to look at, and certainly does not convey its potential importance: a few metal tanks linked by pipes and gauges, and a separate tank Commodore people call "the mixer," where everything comes together. SET is a remarkably simple and versatile technology. It uses off-the-shelf chemicals and, with minor variations, works the same way on all toxic wastes.
The basic process is common to all applications: Contaminated soil, oil or other substance is fed into a tank and mixed with anhydrous (water-free) ammonia. Metallic sodium is introduced into the mix, where it dissolves in the ammonia, turning the solution blue. In a reaction too fast to measure, the toxins are neutralized. They are removed for disposal, and any by- products that need further processing can easily be segregated for specialized treatment. The cleansed materials can safely be reused. Finally, the ammonia solution is reclaimed and the cycle begins again.
As early as 1865, it was known that if you dissolve a reactive metal like sodium or calcium or lithium in anhydrous ammonia, the resulting chemical reaction instantly turns the colorless liquid a beautiful, vivid blue. For years, it was little more than a laboratory curiosity. What was not known in the 19th century was that the color indicates the presence of free electrons eager to link up with any chemical compound hungry enough for them.
This finding is particularly important today because many of the chemicals that share the intense craving for electrons are halogenated compounds -- that is, those containing chlorine, fluorine, bromine, or iodine -- a chemical family that includes many of the world's worst chemical wastes, pesticides, and chemical warfare agents. When halogenated chemicals are fed the electrons they seek, they break into more environmentally benign substances. (With a chlorinated compound, for example, the free electrons in the ammonia-sodium solution cause the chlorine ions to break out, where they marry the sodium ions, forming what every high school student knows is sodium chloride, or common table salt.)
That's very much what happens with PCBs -- polychlorinated biphenyls -- that were used in vast quantities as fire retardants in industrial applications. Although PCBs have not been manufactured for many years, huge quantities continue to contaminate soils, sludges and sediments in industrial sites and harbors around the world. Thousands of government and industrial sites throughout America face PCB problems. Globally, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, China and Japan are faced with staggering PCB disposal problems. But the problem is everywhere: Brazil alone has an estimated 500,000 - 800,000 tons of PCBs it must dispose of. Commodore is now developing strategies for application of SET technology to PCBs and dioxin on a worldwide basis.
Today, the two predominant methods used to dispose of such halogenated compounds are burning and burial, and both face serious public and political resistance.
Burning is effective, but it is not without its potential hazards, including flue gases and transportation of wastes to distant incinerators.
Burial is not a final solution, but passes the problem on to future generations. In the case of chemical weapons and other persistent contaminants, growing fears of leaking tanks and drums have heightened public resistance to the burial of toxic wastes.
Commodore's SET technology has major advantages over these and other techniques in cost, safety and efficiency. The SET process is highly versatile, scaleable to the size of the project, can be operational within a few months, emits no harmful gaseous or liquid effluents, requires no heat, is suitable for remote operations, produces very few (if any) by-products requiring post-treatment, and is extraordinarily effective. In tests of transformer oil containing 750,000 ppm (parts per million) of PCBs, the SET process reduced the PCB level to less than one ppm.
In 1993, Commodore acquired the SET technology developed by Albert E. Abel, now a senior scientist with the company. Throughout the 1980's and beyond, Abel acquired key patents and advanced SET technology toward practical application.
Today, the SET process has been extensively tested on a wide range of chemical wastes, and Commodore has taken the technology to the point of commercialization. Over the past year or so, following EPA approval and the White House endorsement, the SET process is emerging as one of the most promising technologies on the remediation front.
Portability is one of the features that gives the SET process great advantages over other technologies. Small SET process units can actually be delivered to a waste site by tractor-trailer, and literally worked off the back of the truck. For larger projects, SET process units, scaled to the size of the problem, can be built to specifications in months, compared with years for an approved incinerator, and at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, when the cleanup job is over, SET process units can be used elsewhere.
Perhaps the most important benefit of portability is not its speed, but the fact that toxic materials rarely have to be handled more than once, and do not have to be transported by truck or rail -- often through communities -- to reach an approved incinerator or dumpsite. Commodore believes that when the public poses its challenging questions about safety, the SET process offers the kind of answers that will help win public support.
When the White House selected the SET process for accelerated development, the Department of Defense was designated the program's mentor because tests showed that the process destroyed the pesticide malathion, which is structurally similar to most major chemical weapons. Under the terms of the international Chemical Weapons Convention signed by the Clinton Administration in 1993, the DOD must destroy America's stockpiles of poison gas and other chemical weapons before the year 2007 -- less than ten years from now. Other nations must do the same, and estimates are that as much as 150,000 tons of chemical weapons agents are in stockpiles around the world. Estimates are the U.S. will spend about $13 billion on chemical demilitarization in the next decade, and other nations will spend some $80 billion over the next 10-15 years.
In August 1996, Commodore Government Environment Technology, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Commodore Applied Technologies, Inc., and Teledyne Environmental, a wholly owned subsidiary of Allegheny Teledyne Incorporated, formed a joint venture called Teledyne-Commodore LLC, to pursue chemical demilitarization opportunities worldwide.
In September, Commodore Applied completed its acquisition of Advanced Sciences, Inc., an engineering services and environmental marketing company. The result was Commodore Advanced Sciences, Inc., which is integrating SET technology into its services base to pursue chemical cleanup projects.
Tests by several well-respected surety laboratories have confirmed the effectiveness of the SET process to destroy such chemical agents as mustard gas, Lewisite, and Sarin and VX nerve agents. Geomet Laboratories, in Gaithersburg, Md., and Calspan SRL, in Buffalo, N.Y., have played an important role in independent testing and confirmation of the results. Most recently, Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio conducted tests on chemical weapons that proved the ability of the SET process to neutralize the propellants and explosives associated with chemical weapons.
At a NATO workshop on chemical wastes held in Prague last July (actually, the NATO Advanced Workshop on Mobile Technologies for Remediating Formerly Used Sites, Prague, July 1-2, 1996), Dr. Rudy Moyer, of Geomet Laboratories, presented a paper there on the use of SET technology to destroy chemical weapons ("Chemical Warfare Agent Destruction with Solvated Electron Technology").
Moyer reported that the test had confirmed the SET process destroys the three chemical agents that comprise 85 percent of all U.S. chemical weapons stockpiles. He concluded by saying, with no qualifications, "Solvated electron technology is the one solution applicable to all problems of chemical weapons agent decontamination and destruction."
Commodore Applied Technologies, Inc., an environmental technologies company, is 69.3 percent owned by Commodore Environmental Services, Inc. (OTC-BB: COES).
Background: Commodore -- An Environmental Technology Company
Commodore's mission is to develop and commercialize technologies that provide high-value solutions to complex environmental problems worldwide. Headquartered in New York City, Commodore (ASE: CXI)has developed patented, proprietary process technologies that destroy or neutralize most toxic wastes.
The Patented SET(TM) Process Commodore's solvated electron technology (the SET process) has been proven to destroy or neutralize all known chemical warfare agents, including all nerve and blister gases, and to destroy the explosive component and propellant of M55 nerve gas rockets. The non-thermal SET process also decontaminates metal components, such as shell casings and packing materials. The tests have been conducted at U.S. Army-certified commercial laboratories. Commodore is pursuing the worldwide chemical demilitarization market through Teledyne-Commodore, LLC, a joint venture of Allegheny Teledyne Incorporated's wholly owned subsidiary, Teledyne Environmental, Inc., and Commodore Applied Technologies, Inc.'s wholly owned subsidiary, Commodore Government Environment Technology, Inc. Major General (Ret.) Gerald Watson, formerly the Army's chief chemical officer, is president and CEO of the joint venture.
The First And Only Nationwide, Non-Thermal U.S. EPA Permit Commodore's SET process has received the only nationwide non-thermal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permit for the destruction of PCBs in soils and on metallic surfaces. And the SET process machines are portable. The SET process is one of only ten technologies, and one of only three environmental technologies, selected by the White House for accelerated development to assist penetration of international markets under its Rapid Commercialization Initiative (RCI). An RCI demonstration was completed at the Navy's Port Hueneme, Calif., facility in late 1996.
In all, the cost of cleaning up the chemical waste mess in the U.S., as estimated by the Environmental Business Journal, is nearly $500 billion.
Soils, Harbors, Pesticides Soil contamination, for example, is a costly problem worldwide, with tainted soils in the United States alone estimated to be a nearly $60 billion effort. Altogether, the problem of chemical wastes has been called the world's greatest environmental challenge. Chemical wastes have contaminated groundwater and reservoirs, depleted the ozone layer, forced the closure of industrial plants and military bases, prevented the dredging of some of the world's major harbors, elevated cancer rates, entered the food chain and made certain foods unfit for human consumption, threatened certain species with extinction, and desolated such communities as Times Beach and Love Canal. Major market segments include Superfund and non-Superfund cleanups, U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Defense locations, electric and gas utilities, and contaminated industrial and commercial properties with reuse potential (commonly called brownfield sites).
Chemical weapons Under the terms of the international Chemical Weapons Convention signed by President Clinton in 1993, the Defense Department must destroy America's stockpiles of poison gas and other chemical weapons before the year 2007 --- ten years from now. Other nations must do the same, and estimates are that as much as 150,000 tons of chemical weapons agents are in stockpiles around the world. Estimates are that the U.S. stockpile destruction will cost about $13 billion and that the non-stockpile cleanup of chemical agents will cost another $17 billion. As much as $80 billion is expected to be spent by other signatory nations during the next 10-to-15 years.
-- Commercializing the company's patented technologies through joint ventures with established leaders in targeted industries. -- Acquiring profitable, well-managed service companies with in-place contracts through which the company's technologies can be employed. -- Marketing the company's patented technologies through commercial licensing arrangements. -- Creating synergistic opportunities among the company's patented and proprietary technologies.
SOURCE Commodore Applied Technologies, Inc. -0- 2/6/97 /NOTE TO EDITORS: See related story on PR Newswire moved earlier today -- NYTH090 -- from Teledyne-Commodore announcing the test results on chemical weapons. Headline reads: Non-Thermal Technology Successfully Destroys Chemical Weapons Explosives, Propellants and Chemical Agents/ /CONTACT: John Peterson of Commodore Applied Technologies, Inc., 212-308-5800/ /Graphic illustration available on AP PhotoExpress Network -- 08:00, 02/06 and PRN photo PRN1; via NewsCom, 305-448-8411 or http://www.newscom.com; or via PressLink Online, 703-758-1740/ (CXI ALT)
CO: Commodore Applied Technologies, Inc.; Allegheny Teledyne Incorporated ST: Alabama, New York, Ohio IN: ARO CHM ENV SU: PDT
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