Not only is pollution dirty, smelly and disgusting, it can also kill.
The World Health Organization estimates that each year more than 3 million people die worldwide due to causes directly linked to air pollution, mostly due to vehicle emissions and industrial pollution.
Controlling industrial emissions is not an easy task. Pollutant gasses and particles emitted in industrial processes can flow at different rates, with different particle sizes and at high temperatures. A pollution control system can be effective for cleaning medium-size dry dust particles, for example, but will not be effective in dealing with fine particles captured in steam mixed with pollutant gases.
As a result, the industry is highly fragmented with numerous regional participants who provide customers with a limited range of solutions to control different pollution subproblems. That's why the simple and cost-effective Israeli solution developed by Vortex Ecological Technologies, which cleans both pollutant gases and fine particles, is being touted as a breakthrough.
Many scientists note that carbon dioxide emissions are the leading cause of global warming, and the issue has been raised to prominence by former Vice President Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth."
According to CEO Avi Harel, Vortex can neutralize 99 percent of the sulfurous gas particles emitted by the burning of fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent to 15 percent.
"That's enough to make a difference," he said.
Harel explained that Vortex's pollution control systems manipulate the physical forces created by the rapid spiral motion of gas and liquid inside a special, patented compartment called the Advanced Vortex Chamber (image, right), which separates fine particles and gases.
When gas enters the chamber it is accelerated and twirls into a vortex manipulated by various blades and air funnels -- and without moving parts. This separates pollutants out without the risk of wear or clogging the machine and cleans industrial emission and liquid from particles and gas pollutants inexpensively and efficiently.
These aren't particles that just pollute the air, Harel explained.
"You can use our system for very fine particles that may otherwise lead to cancer," he said.
Not only does the Vortex solution create results that improve the environment, it enables otherwise-polluting businesses to continue operating. A lime plant near Zichron Yaakov in the north of Israel was forced to close due to excessive pollution when the area around the plant became covered with white impurities. After the installation of Vortex's system, the plant was able to re-open.
"We cleaned the air and the water," Harel reported.
Founded in 1996, Vortex has always attempted to combine the "green" motive with business practicality, Harel said.
"The idea is to deal with pollution from both a business point of view and the green ideas point of view," he said. "We provide an affordable means to deal with pollution. A lot of companies complained that the cost of dealing with pollution was unaffordable, and so we went to the market with something that is more efficient and low maintenance."
The lime industry has become a primary recipient of Vortex's expertise, with its solution installed at many lime companies, a major concrete company and pipe production operations. Vortex also hopes that medium-sized power plants will use the system.
"Any industry that has pollution can use our system," Harel said, citing its flexibility.
"It's relatively easy to apply and integrate the system to existing plants, because of its small size and high speed," Harel said. "Up to now, [other air pollution control systems] required building new plants. Our system is much smaller and can be put in the existing buildings."
The systems are not only useful in factories and industry but also can be used in ships, which produce 5 percent of the world's pollution. In Europe alone, pollution from ships is greater than the pollution of all the cars, trucks and factories.
As a result, Vortex has been conducting tests for the MAN Diesel company, a major international manufacturer of diesel engines for ships. In the latest tests, MAN reported that Vortex's systems had proven the best in reducing pollution.
In addition, Vortex's unique technology allows for the reclamation of pollutants -- many of which remain useful in industrial production. For example, shipping companies can reuse gasoline and save millions of dollars each year in potash, an essential manufacturing element. In mining, as well, the material that is captured can be reused.
"If you capture material that can be reused or if you sell it, you can pay back the cost of the system pretty quickly," Harel said.
Beyond the reusability, the simplicity of Vortex's system helps to reduce maintenance costs -- thus making it a more economical choice for industry. By lowering the price, industries that may not otherwise want a pollution-control system would be more likely to use one, even though it may not be required.
"When you have filters you have to clean and replace them," Harel said. In our case, you don't have to do it. There are no moving parts in our system; it is static,"
Harnessing the potential to allow for industry to continue producing in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way, Vortex Ecological Technologies seems poised to make a difference in curbing industrial pollution.
"We have a proven technology, a proven product and we are looking for partners," Harel said.
"We are looking to cover more and more applications worldwide for the benefit of the environment and for business. I hope that the green ideas and green solutions we are developing can help people and help the world."