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Compatibility, viability critical to Calgon Carbon

Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review - Calgon Carbon Corp. mechanical assembly employee Don Kumpf moves a skid-mounted ballast water treatment system in the company's Coraopolis plant. Calgon Carbon Corp. won a Tech 50 award last year from the Pittsburgh Technology Council for its innovative work in ultraviolet water disinfection systems.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jasmine Goldband  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Calgon Carbon Corp. mechanical assembly employee Don Kumpf moves a skid-mounted ballast water treatment system in the company's Coraopolis plant.  Calgon Carbon Corp. won a Tech 50 award last year from the Pittsburgh Technology Council for its innovative work in ultraviolet water disinfection systems.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review - Calgon Carbon Corp. mechanical assembly employees move a skid mounted ballast water treatment system at the Coraopolis location. Calgon Carbon Corp. won a Tech 50 award this year from the Pittsburgh Technology Council for its innovative work in UV water disinfection systems.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jasmine Goldband  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Calgon Carbon Corp. mechanical assembly employees move a skid mounted ballast water treatment system at the Coraopolis location.  Calgon Carbon Corp. won a Tech 50 award this year from the Pittsburgh Technology Council for its innovative work in UV water disinfection systems.

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Ballast water technology

About 60,000 ships, from commecial ocean vessels to cruise ships and oil tankers, will need to be retrofitted with water treatment systems beginning this year to filter and disinfect water they take onboard to balance cargo loads.

Industry officials estimate the systems could become a $15 billion to $30 bililon industry.

The treatement system made by Calgon Carbon Corp. removes solids and large organisims, then ultraviolet light destroys organisms such as zooplankton, algae, bacteria and pathogens.

The water is disinfected again before the ship dumps it.

Source: Calgon Carbon Corp.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 8:39 p.m.
 

Ralph Franco has a discriminating eye when analyzing ideas for inventions that cross his desk at Calgon Carbon Corp.

Franco, director of business development for the Robinson-based environmental treatment company, is the gatekeeper who inventors, university small business incubators and others must persuade when pitching technology.

“One thing we're looking for are technologies that are near commercial-scale,” Franco said. “We don't have a process to take them from science on a lab bench somewhere” to commercially viable.

Calgon invites idea submissions on its website and receives as many as 10 proposals a month. Universities call directly on behalf of faculty or graduate students who are working on relevant research, Franco said.

None of the ideas pitched so far has been adopted.

“You'll say ‘no' 100 times for every time you might say ‘maybe,'” he said.

Ideas must be compatible with technology Calgon uses and should become profitable within about three years, Franco said.

Calgon won a Tech 50 award in advanced manufacturing from the Pittsburgh Technology Council last year for its work in ultraviolet light disinfection.

In business for 70 years, Calgon might not appear fast-moving but “here's a company ... looking to the future with other areas of technology that aren't part of their traditional carbon-based (products), going into ultraviolet,” said Jonathan Kersting, the council's director of visibility initiatives.

“The company is exploring totally new markets that weren't around five or 10 years ago with the potential to create a lot of new jobs and opportunity here in the region,” Kersting said.

Calgon acquired Hyde Marine, an industrial fluid management company, and its ballast water treatment system in 2010. The system uses with ultraviolet light to filter and disinfect water taken on by ships to balance cargo loads. Left untreated, the water could drop invasive species into ecosystems upon discharge, Franco said.

Calgon made improvements and now manufactures the systems, said Gail Gerono, Calgon's vice president of investor relations and communications.

The partnership is an example of technology Calgon is looking for, Franco said: The technology fit Calgon's existing ultraviolet disinfection work and was commercially viable.

Companies that reinvest in themselves and explore and develop products and services are crucial to advancing the region, Kersting said.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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