Hydrodec OK’d to Treat PCB-Tainted Oil

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued Hydrodec Group a final permit for storage and treatment of used transformer oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). Hydrodec also won permission from Mexicos national electricity utility to process its PCB-contaminated oil at another plant in Australia.

The company began commercial production at its transformer oil rerefinery in Canton, Ohio, in October 2008. The 22,000 square foot plant can recycle up to 8 million gallons per year. It uses a proprietary catalyst to remove impurities and produce a rerefined product the company describes as hydrogenation-refined naphthenic mineral transformer oil. The process enables 99 percent or greater recovery of oil for reuse while also eliminating PCBs, without environmentally harmful emissions.

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Although the business is now much more oriented around oil recycling generally, the PCB contamination at the front end takes you to transformer oils in particular and the electrical industry, Hydrodec CEO Ian Smale told Lube Report. It is a major differentiator for the process that we have, particularly in the United States, where the relatively high thresholds for PCB contamination mean that up until now we’ve competed purely as an oil recycling company. It opens up new markets and new possibilities.

We’ve been quite encouraged by not just the companies we thought we would be looking to market to, but actually companies that have approached us out of the blue, who have got stores, stock piles or sources of this material that we haven’t necessarily expected, Smale added.

The EPAs approval is effective immediately, according to Smale, although the company will need to make some equipment changes at the Ohio plant to accommodate the PCB-contaminated waste oil.

We have to complete a number of small amendments to the pipework inside the plant to segregate the PCB contaminated oil until just before the reactor, and that’s largely done, he said, adding he was confident the plant will begin processing PCB-contaminated waste oil during the third quarter of 2012.

Hydrodec and its Mexican partner, System of Energy SA, a transformer servicing and maintenance company, won a competitive tender from the Federal Electricity Commission of Mexico for the processing of PCB-contaminated oils. It will allow the export of 900,000 liters to Hydrodecs plant in Young, Australia, enough to sustain production capacity at the plant through the end of 2012, with potential for further contracts in 2013.

This in particular endorses the commerciality of our process, Smale said. It’s commercial for us to ship it all the way to our plant in Australia for disposal. Mexico is a big market for us.

In addition to plants in Ohio and Australia, Hydrodec established a joint venture with Kobelco Eco-Solutions named Pacific Eco Refining that will use Hydrodecs technology in a new transformer oil rerefinery in Japan, scheduled for start-up in 2013. Hydrodec also has corporate offices in London.