Partnering opportunity

Technology for removing aromatic hydrocarbons, particularly creosote oils, from wooden products

Summary

A Polish company from the waste management sector offers the technology for cleaning-up creosoted wood, railway sleepers in particular. So far, such hazardous waste has been left untreated or was burned because no efficient method of recycling them existed. The technology is an environment-friendly, cost-effective and time-saving alternative, which reduces the content of harmful substances to below 0,1%. Cooperation under either commercial agreement or license agreement is offered.

Partner sought

Commercial agreement with technical assistance - Type of partner: companies operating in the waste management industry, particularly companies dealing with hazardous waste; - Role of partner sought: to buy non-exclusive rights to the technology and introduce it to a partner's waste treatment processes. Further development of the technology so it can be used to treat non-wood waste would be welcomed. License agreement: - Type of partner: companies from the waste management industry, particularly companies dealing with hazardous waste; - Role of Partner Sought: to buy the right to use (i.e. the license to) the technology and introduce it to a partner's waste treatment processes. Assistance in the further development of the technology, so it can be used to treat non-wood waste, would be welcomed.

Description

Creosote oils are substances toxic to fungi, insects and marine borers, and they serve as natural water repellants. They are especially effective at preserving wood, mostly timber, and preventing its decay. Due to the increased lifespan, creosote-treated wood found many industrial applications, including as sleepers (horizontal blocks supporting a railway track). But further studies have shown that creosote oils are also cancerogenic. Thus the European Commission took action to prohibit amateur use of creosote products and to restrict their industrial use. Yet another problem arose: what to do with decommissioned creosote-treated products such as wooden sleepers? How to manage this hazardous waste? The most common solutions have been to either burn or dispose them in dedicated landfill sites. A problem with the former is a scarcity of proper incinerators, especially considering all the other hazardous waste (e.g. medical) competing for the same capacities. And in the case of landfills, one wastes a lot of space and recyclable material, not to mention the danger of toxic substances getting to the ground and polluting groundwaters. Scientists have attempted to degrade and/or bioremediate waste wood containing creosote using creosote-tolerant fungi (white-rot fungi), but the method was inefficient. A company from north-western Poland operating in the waste management sector, and specialised in hazardous waste treatment and disposal, has developed an alternative method. The whole process starts with preparing a nutrient for microorganisms growth and replication. To make it, the company combines comminuted potatoes with water, and boils all the ingredients in a specific temperature and under particular pressure. The mixture is then sterilised and cooled-down. Next, the nutrient is injected into a tank where microorganisms grow and replicate. After a specific period, the content of the tank is moved to a bioreactor with creosoted wooden sleepers, where proper treatment starts. Beforehand the sleepers are comminuted and cleared of any metal objects. Precise temperature and humidity are set in the bioreactor, and its content is constantly stirred. After a week, one gets a creasote-free wood. It is removed from the bioreactor, dried and can be used for heating purposes (in biogas plants) or to make other products e.g. briquette. The technology can be further developed and adjusted for treatment creosoted materials other than wood, e.g. sewage, rubble. Recognising its environmental benefits, the company wants to spread the technology, achieve its commercial use on the industrial scale and to further improve it. To that end, they are looking for a partner that will acquire rights to the technology, introduce it into his waste treatment processes and further improve it under the commercial agreement with technical assistance. They are also ready to license (i.e. sell the right to use) the technology to a partner that will use it. The company, in turn, will be responsible for providing the technical documentation necessary for the technology transfer. They are also ready to lend their expertise in adapting the technology to partners' requirements. If requested, they can also help further develop it.

Advantages and innovations

The technology solves the problem of hazardous creosoted wood, such as wooden sleepers or utility poles. The wood treated using the offered technology stops being a dangerous waste - the content of harmful substances drops below the threshold of 0,1%. This makes the technology not only environmentally friendly but also highly efficient. It is also effective in terms of costs and time - two qualities that hindered commercial use of other solutions. The whole process is also self-sustaining: after the treatment, part of creosote-free wood can be used to heat (1) tanks where the nutrient is made, (2) where microorganisms grow and replicate, and (3) the bioreactor where the proper treatment of wood takes place. Lastly, technology is suitable for neutralising not only creosote oils but also other aromatic hydrocarbons.

Development stage

Available for demonstration

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted


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