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CECON Blog

This area of the website contains blogs written by our Consultants as well as Cecon personnel

Joining the Fight Against COVID-19, Founding Director of University of Delaware Epidemiology, Dr. Jennifer Horney

Dr. Jennifer Horney

 

 

Meet Dr. Jennifer Horney, Cecon Expert and Founding Director of University of Delaware Epidemiology Program.  Dr. Horney is an integral part of a global force battling COVID-19, recognizing the most powerful weapons against this disease are hand washing and social distancing measures, until a vaccine is developed.

She has been interviewed by numerous major networks and you can follow her most recent interview with Delaware News Journal:  https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2020/04/13/ud-expert-talks-what-return-normalcy-delaware-take/2968872001/

Dr. Horney is CECON’s Expert # 2515,website link:  https://www.cecon.com/consultant-resumes/2515

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Pharma Outsourcing Trends, Part 1: Why is Pharma Outsourcing on the Rise?

A question we hear at The CECON Group is “Why are pharmaceutical companies increasingly seeing the need to hire outside consultants?”

 

We approached Dr. Barry Bowen, CECON Vice President and Program Manager, a consultant with more than 35 years of experience in business leadership, human resources, and technical project management.  He offered his observations regarding the areas where companies are using outside consultants in the pharmaceutical industry.

 

 

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Yoga Mat Chemical in Bread: Is it really hazardous? CECON Chemist comments on the toxicity of ADA

Several weeks ago, concern was raised by environmental groups about a chemical called  Azodicarbonamide, (ADA) a chemical foaming agent that is used in some plastics (like yoga mats) being a common additive in commercially prepared bread. ADA added to bread flour shortens the processing time for commercial bakers by making the dough rise more quickly.

We asked Dr. Stanley Tocker, a chemist with CECON, what he thought of the toxicity of this chemical.

 Dr. Tocker reported that this chemical has not been widely tested, but he did not see any supported data on toxicity. While there is lots of chatter about the dangers of this chemical, it appears to be safe at the concentrations (40-50 parts per billion) in commercial products.

 According to Dr. Tocker, when ADA is cooked, it breaks down, leaving behind miniscule residues of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and carbon dioxide. Such levels of these chemicals have not been found to be harmful to humans.

So, for now, until solid evidence is presented, you don’t need to worry when eating your sandwich rolls in restaurants!

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Researchers Use Opal Structure to Improve Thin Film Solar Cell Efficiency

A new approach to solar cell design is raising hopes for lower cost electricity derived from solar energy.  Researchers from Purdue University’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center have devised a 3-D synthetic crystal that absorbs, retains and utilizes sunlight more effectively than traditional thin-film cells

Conventional solar cells are made of single crystal silicon wafers, but those made of thin-film silicon cells are 100 times less expensive. Unfortunately, the thin-film cells’ material and structure allows sunlight to enter and then quickly reflected back out of the cell, making them much less efficient.  Purdue researchers have found that by introducing synthetic crystals with an “inverse opal structure” into the construction of the thin-film cells, that once sunlight enters the cell it is diffracted and the opal structure traps light for longer periods of time, increasing the probability of converting the solar power to electrical energy.   

According to Peter Bermel, an assistant professor participating in the study, the goal of the research was to determine whether introducing the 3-D photonic crystals into crystalline silicon solar cells would make them more efficient while maintaining their lower cost. “The question is, can we make up that lower efficiency by introducing new approaches to light trapping for thin film solar cells? Can we combine low cost and high performance?”

The study showed that the opal structure increases the thin-film cells’ efficiency and absorption of near-infrared light by approximately 10%, and that with more research greater efficiency may be gained.

Though solar cells were originally designed to be made of thick single crystal silicon wafers, the cost was prohibitive for widespread use, so the multicrystalline and thin-film silicon solar cells have gained in popularity. Unfortunately, their efficiency in absorbing near-infrared light is not optimal. According to Bermel, “Light in the near-infrared range is important because there is a lot of solar energy in that wavelength range and also because silicon can convert near infrared light to energy if it can absorb it, but thin films don’t fully absorb it.”

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Nanotechnology Innovation Offers Hope that Diabetics can Skip Injections

Patients diagnosed with Diabetes 1 and advanced cases of Diabetes 2 often have to give themselves painful insulin injections – sometimes as many as several per day.  Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State have developed a nanotechnology platform that may enable diabetics to have their insulin delivered painlessly via a handheld ultrasound device that would release nanoparticles infused with the essential hormone.

The nanoparticles used in the study are made of poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA). They were coated with alginate and chitosan which have negative and positive charges so that they would form a “nano-network” through which the insulin’s release could be controlled. In studies done on mice, the nanotechnology networks were administered subcutaneously and then activated through focused ultrasound, providing insulin for up to ten days and eliminating the need for days’ worth of injections.

Nanotechnology innovations have been found to be effective in the treatment of a number of difficult diseases and recently received a lot of attention when UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center used them in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.  In the UCLA application, two different nanotechnology particles were used: one created a path to the cancer while the other followed and delivered a reservoir of chemotherapeutic medication. The treatment was devised by Andre Nel, a UCLA nanomedicine professor and Huan Meng, an adjunct assistant professor.

The Food and Drug Administration, as well as many of their European equivalents, have approved a variety of drug delivery approaches using PLGA.  The use of the copolymer is particularly attractive because it degrades so easily. When it breaks down it produces lactic acid and glycolic acid, two monomers that the body is accustomed to processing and which have minimal toxicity.  Other studies into the use of nanotechnology are focused on the delivery of vaccines and even for non-invasive imaging techniques.

Since 1985, The CECON Group has been placing experts in over 200 scientific disciplines. CECON Consultants include Nanotechnology Experts,  FDA Consultants, Pharmaceutical Consultants, Experts in biotechnology and  medical devices,, and Polymers & Coatings Experts.

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5 Reasons Pharmaceutical Companies are Missing out on Significant Cost Savings—Cost Control Strategies for Pharma Part 1

 

Many pharmaceutical companies look at cost controls as a means of bolstering their bottom line in the face of increasing competition and external pressures to reduce the price of medications. Yet many struggle to identify and implement significantsavings. CECON consultant 1569, specializing in the formulation, manufacturing,  packaging, and dosage development of pharmaceuticals , lays out the top five reasons why.  Next week, in Part 2 of this series, we’ll provide a personal example of leading a pharma company to significant cost savings.

 

 

  1. Reluctance to make changes that might create risk

Pharmaceuticals is a highly regulated industry that requires companies to use approved grades of raw materials and components in processes which must be validated and employ qualified equipment systems and facilities. Additionally, raw materials, components, intermediates, and finished products must be analyzed and released using sophisticated, qualified instrumentation and validated methods. It takes years and millions of dollars to conduct the studies necessary to establish these levels of control before a company is authorized to sell a product. Consequently, companies are reluctant to make changes that might risk the quality and commercial availability of their products.

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Eight Agricultural Technology Solutions to World Hunger

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The UN estimates that there are 86 food deficit nations, 35 nations currently in a food crisis, and 26 water deficient countries. About 39% of our world’s population is not served by any electric grid and 25% are without basic emergency power. Christianity Today reported 25,000 people were estimated to starve to death daily in a November 2008 article on world hunger.

One root cause, according to CECON Consultant # 1959, a power plant and infrastructure development expert, is that the agriculture that once produced food for direct human consumption has been industrialized and monopolized globally to now produce animal feed, luxury export crops, and global investment commodities out of both reach and benefit to the poor consumer and the small organic farmer alike. Even record yields don’t feed those who can’t afford their price. And the UN reports 41.5% of the world’s people have $2/day or less in spendable income, who are then squeezed out of the market to buy a subsistence plot of land for their survival.

CECON Consultant # 1959 is currently working on technologies in low-cost systems for greenhouse farming and community electric power plants. He proposes eight solutions for dealing with food and energy crises.

  1. Build integrated electric power and greenhouse farming systemsfor serving communities and their surrounding small land holders, a specialty of CECON Consultant # 1959.

  2. Construct single community electric power plantsbased on the site’s capabilities, free and waste fuels, and the project objectives and budget.   

  3. Establish community-supported agriculture (CSA)in which the people of a community or village pay farmers (usually organic growers using native seed) in advance or by contract for food they pick up from them weekly during the entire growing season.

  4. Enable the community or village to purchase local land for a greenhouse farmwith additional plots if desired for lease or rental of equal shares to local consumers and growers.

  5. Get prospective local small growers together to jointly purchase an agricultural tract,splitting its ownership at closing and possibly retaining equal shares ownership on some common ground for a greenhouse farm.
  1. Pressure politicians to stop any cash subsidies to all farms over 20 acres in size, and focus on subsidizing say a 10-acre plot/family for down-payments and/or producing strategic crops for local direct human consumption. Class action law suits might speed up this particular solution as well as others.
  1. Pass a family homesteading law to distribute a percentage (say 25%) of all federal and state owned conservation lands(such as Forest Service & BLM land in the US) to be completed in say a 2 year time maximum.
  1. Require mandatory redistribution of all corporate farm holdings of 100 acres or larger in 10-acre parcels/family within 1 year. Similarly, Franklin D. Roosevelt required that insurance companies dispose of their acquired agricultural lands quickly in the period just following the great depression of the 1930s.

Experts report that producing the world’s human food requirements will use an amazingly small amount of land if greenhouse farming methods like theirs are applied. Based on their one-acre planned food & energy demonstration model, a 9,486 square mile area irrigated in greenhouse farming under moderately intensive organic farm management will provide adequate fish, fruit, & vegetable protein and nutrition for 6.5 billion people. That area would occupy a square plot 97.4 miles on a side, being 16.86% of the state of Iowa’s size, or 1.4% of the United State’s cropland area of 420 million acres. This area would equal seven global square plots measuring 36.81 miles on a side.

Consultant # 1959 also says that the free fuels of hydroelectric power, solar thermal, and waste utilization can provide the world’s grid-less areas with very affordable electric power without the requiring high tech solutions and equipment.  2,366.4 square miles of land (a square 48.65 miles on a side) could produce 3.029 billion gallons of ethanol transportation fuel per year for 302.9 billion transportation miles using a modern steam car version of the Stanley Steamer automobile (1897-1924). Allard Research & Development is working on a 100 gal/hour community ethanol plant that could pay for itself in less than two years at a capital investment of $150,000 (US).

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How One Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Cut Costs while Enhancing Quality, Simplifying Processes and Streamlining Inventories

In part two of our series on cost control strategies for pharmaceuticals,  CECON consultant 1569, specializing in the formulation, manufacturing,  packaging, and dosage development of pharmaceuticals, walks us through a personal experience where he was able to lead a pharmaceutical company to realize significant cost savings.

COST CONTROL STRATEGIES IN PHARMACEUTICALS: PART 2

  1. It has been my experience that reluctance to change is one of the primary reasons that pharmaceutical companies do not actively pursue cost savings as a means of improving their profitability. It is presumed that little or nothing can be changed, so why bother looking?  Other common deterrents to pursuing cost controls:  “We have a Purchasing department that is responsible for obtaining the best pricing on all goods and services.”

  2. “R&D and Operations, and Facilities know what they want, so who are we (Purchasing) to question their judgment?”
  1. “Cost control is not really a viable means of positively impacting the bottom line over the long haul.”   

For pharmaceutical manufacturers, it is true that approved raw materials and components, validated processes and methods, and qualified equipment and facilities cannot be changed without significant cost and effort. Yet it is frequently (and mistakenly) assumed that these constitute all of a company’s expenses or that they cannot be modified in some way that can result in significant savings. Let me share an experience to demonstrate the fallacy that little can be changed in a regulated industry that might positively impact a company’s profitability.

A few years ago, I was retained to assess a stem cell manufacturer’s warehousing operations to see what steps could be taken to consolidate and manage their on-hand inventories to accommodate relocation to a new facility.  The new facility’s warehouse was only 3,000 ft2—about one tenth the size of the current warehouse—a challenging proposition to support expanded operations.

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Questions to Ask when Hiring an Expert

When hiring an expert for a consulting project or expert witness testimony in a legal case, it is important to ask the right questions, in the right order, to obtain relevant information to make the best choice.

We asked CECON Vice President and placement specialist Barry Bowen, as well as one of our long-time consultants, a former FDA Science Branch Manager, what they believe the most important questions are to ask potential candidates:

  1. Do you have any potential conflicts of interest with any of the parties, such as previous employers? This could include cases you have been involved with, etc.
  1. After describing the case: Can you handle this case?
  1. Are you available to assist during the required timeframe?
  1. What is your experience with the subject matter? This should include discussions of relevant and related background in the subject matter, such as chemistry, clinical studies, device production, packaging, CMO, CRO, quality, regulatory compliance, etc.
  1. Do you have a tendency to support client technical views for legal cases? Or are you able to be objective and unbiased?

  2. What is your previous experience as an expert witness? Describe your activities surrounding consulting, reporting, deposition, and trial, including appearing on camera.

The answers to these questions will help the hiring manager select the very best expert consultant for the project.

 

Founded in 1985, The CECON Group specializes in providing science and engineering consultants and expert witnesses. Consultants in our global network typically have more than 25 years of experience in more than 200 disciplines, including pharmaceutical development and regulatory compliance, chemical processing and safety, biotechnology,medical devices, nanotechnology, and polymers and coatings.

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Research News: What’s on the Horizon for the Controversial Medical Stent?

About 500,000 angioplasties are performed in the United States every year. Dr. Stanley Tocker, a former CECON Group Vice President and consultant in this controversial subject area, reports on important happenings in the research of stents.

Medical stents, small expandable mesh tubes used to open narrowed vascular sites or support weakened vessels, have been in the news in the face of multiple lawsuits and two leading medical societies publishing a report calling stents “one of the five most overused procedures in medicine.” The report called into question elective procedures versus emergency situations using stents for patients having heart attacks—where the life-saving benefit is clear.

Angioplasty typically costs around $30,000, and in rare circumstances it can lead to tears in blood vessel walls, bleeding and the formation of blood clots.

All aspects of the stent design, surgical techniques for their use, anti-plaque coatings, coating methodology and materials of construction have been studied. One aspect of stents where some fascinating research is currently taking place is in the material choice.

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The Best Way to Source Consultants/ Legal Expert Witnesses: Social Media or Placement Firm?

5 Advantages of (and 1 Misconception about) Using a Consultant Placement Firm over Searching SocialMedia to Hire a Consultant

 With everyone on Linked In and websites so easy to build, it is easier than ever to search for a client or expert on the internet and skip the “middleman” or expert placement firm when hiring a consultant. But should you? Is it really cheaper? 

What are the advantages to using an expert placement firm?

  1. Vetting. Did the expert whose profile looks so appealing on social media really attend that school? Does he/she really have those skills? A placement firm can vet their experts.
  1. Additional experts are available if needed. If you need multiple experts or additional experts in a complementary field,  a placement firm can be “one stop shopping.” Your “rep” will already know the details of your project and the expertise you already have, so you don’t need to start over multiple times to engage additional help. You will also just get one invoice, which streamlines paperwork for you.
  1. Filtering: Having so many choices of experts can be confusing. A placement firm with experience in a specific practice area is able to help you discern which of a long list of experts is the one who meets your needs. Experts may use a variety of terms in their resumes or websites, whose relevance may be difficult to interpret for someone not in that field. A placement firm can send you a filtered list of candidates.
  1. Expertise discernement: What type of expertise is actually needed for your job? It may be different than you think.

In one of CECON’s successful expert placements, a plaintiff’s attorney sought a pharmaceutical consultant with a specific skill set from our expert database. After discussing the case with the client and getting more details, the CECON Project Manager suggested that an expert with a slightly different background would be more appropriate. An expert on regulatory issues and innovative/generic drug labeling was engaged, per CECON’s suggestion. The outcome was a judgment was for the plaintiffs, with a $500 Million Punitive Award.

  1. Scope definition. A placement firm whose client service reps have expert experience themselves can often help define and narrow the scope of your job.

For example, CECON Project Managers have helped clients define technical specifications for engineering projects, then sourced the necessary consulting team to complete the projects. If you are uncertain about the full scope and hidden tasks involved with a project, an experienced technical project manager can help you.

And, the one misconception: that fees will be higher. This is not always the case. Fees may be comparable to hiring an expert directly when sourcing a consultant through a placement firm. Because placement firms provide a higher volume of work to a consultant than one client will, they may get a lower rate, which compensates for the placement fee. Placement firms usually understand market pricing and will work to make the net end fee to the user competitive.

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Case Study: A New Design for a Water-Cooled Furnace Brings to Life the Concept of “Conservative Innovation”

When a CECON consultant specializing in chemical and process engineering presented his idea for a new design for a water-cooled furnace to the expert designers he worked with they said one word: IMPOSSIBLE.  But employing his concept of “conservative innovation design,” he persisted and built a furnace that not only operated successfully, it became far more practical to maintain and repair than the traditional design.

 Over the course of five years, I have built and operated a total of seven rotary induction water cooled furnaces—giant furnaces capable of processing hundreds of tons of ore per hour—in two different factories.  

 When No. 6 was running, my electrician, who I had been working with since No. 1, came into my office and declared: “We must get rid of this water cooling nuisance. You must make an air-cooled coil!” He had a point. Water leakages and sometimes blocked water passages, created safety risks, demanded problematic repairs and consequently caused lengthy down time of the furnaces.

 I immediately responded: “Our furnaces are not the first in the world. If this were possible, the Chinese experts who supplied the equipment would have done it long ago. Forget about it! We have enough on our hands.”

 He was disappointed, but he understood my point.

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6 Tips for Controlling Costs When Engaging a Consultant or Expert Witness

The right expert witnesses can be a key component to helping an attorney win a case. A great deal of attention is paid to finding and contracting with a good expert. While hourly rates may seem high and a large number of hours may be needed for an expert to review the facts of a case and provide a meaningful written opinion, there are ways you can manage the engagement of an expert to keep costs at a minimum.

  1. Don’t give your expert more documents to read than necessary– this can drive up charges if the consultant has to spend time reading unnecessary documents
  1. Don’t lead expert opinion. While you may have a case strategy, leading or influencing the report can place the expert in an ethical dilemma if he disagrees with your conclusions, require additional research to support, and add to time spent on the case. If you have selected the right expert, allow them to present their professional opinion to you without a requested outcome.

Presenting your case strategy when interviewing a potential expert can let you know if the expert is likely to be on your side, without influencing him. If the expert feels as if his/her opinion has been influenced, he/she may be required to disclose this in court, which may hurt your case.

  1. Be easy to contact.This will eliminate delays while the expert is waiting to have questions answered and time charges for multiple contacts.
  1. Pay your bill on time. This keeps the consultant focused on the job rather than on following up on payment.
  1. Make sure the scope of the project or case is clearly defined.  Being on the same page from the start of the project will help insure that your expert or consultant is working on the tasks most important to your case or project.
  1. Communicate frequentlyto insure the project is on track and that key deadlines and trial dates are on everyone’s calendar.

 

For more hands on tips on managing expert witnesses, see our three part series“Guidelines for Your Expert Witness” and other Expert Witness Management Tips on this blog. This series is also available as a Whitepaper; call our offices or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request a copy.

 

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Hazard Identification: The Mitigation Hierarchy and Human Interface

Hazard Identified; What Next?

As we’ve discussed in recent articles, once a hazard is identified as legitimate, it needs to be mitigated.  A time-tested approach is what is known as The Industrial Hierarchy of Controls. While effective if applied properly, we must consider the human interface when utilizing the hierarchy of controls. A quick refresher of the hierarchy of controls will remind us that it is historically comprised of 4 components: Substitute/Eliminate, Engineer, Administrate and PPE. Depending upon what it is we’re trying to control, any one component could be effective, or a combination might be called for to mitigate the hazard.

Initially, when using the hierarchy, we would prefer to substitute or eliminate the hazard if possible. Eliminating is obviously the simpler action. Let’s say we have a board with protruding nails laying in a walkway. We don’t need the board for the completion of our task, so we simply remove the nails and discard or re-use the board, thus eliminating the hazard.

Now, let’s say we’ve been using a particular cleaning compound. A revised MSDS reveals that it contains a carcinogenic component in its composition. Not wanting to expose anyone to the chemical hazard, we now have to determine how to control that hazard. We need to use a cleaner in order to complete our task. The question now is, How? A bit of research finds that there are several other cleaners that perform as well, but they have no carcinogens in their composition. In this case we can opt to substitute a new, hazard-free cleaner for the old cleaner and complete the task as desired.

To Engineer a hazard control may take a group of professionals with specific skill sets. Depending upon how complex the hazard control may be, it’s possible that you may require certain experts in a particular field, or simply a creative individual with a practical solution. Using an example from my own work history, let’s solve an excessive noise issue. In a compressor building, we had monitored SPL’s of 121dba. That is loud by anyone’s standards! Even with double hearing protection, the long-term effects on workers were undesirable. Our solution needed to be the best in terms of long-term performance and protecting our employees. An assessment revealed that the manifold/muffler systems used on the 2-cycle, gas-burning engines produced a harmonic conducive to extreme sound levels at the RPM’s the engines operated at. After consulting with numerous specialists, the determination was to install new, quieter manifold/muffler systems on the engines and use sound-deadening, portable barriers during maintenance work. What we did was use a combination of substitute and engineer to control the hazard.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of removing people as opposed to removing a hazard, to arrive at the best solution for hazard control. During summer months when temperatures are highest (and employees working outside are most exposed to heat stress) many companies will arrange work schedules to compensate for the heat. It may simply be a matter of having employees arrive earlier in the day, or working later at night to remove them from the exposure to the hazard of heat stress. In this case, the best hazard control is administrative.
Finally, we arrive at what has been considered the last control in the hierarchy. PPE is the only control that is always utilized in the workplace. While the other controls can either be combined or used exclusively, PPE is always used with any of the other controls. While selection of PPE will be determined by the level of hazard exposure, most employers require a minimum of ANSI-spec hard-hat, safety glasses, gloves and safety boots/shoes for any task undertaken at their workplace.  PPE is considered by many Safety professionals to be the last step in any risk assessment. The logic being, if you’ve done a proper assessment and utilized the hierarchy of controls effectively, then theoretically, PPE should not have to be called upon to protect the worker. In simpler terms, if your PPE kept you from getting hurt, it’s possible that you didn’t conduct a thorough risk assessment.

The Human Interface – A Benefit or a Detriment?

While the hierarchy of controls can be a wonderful Safety tool, it only is as effective as the individuals utilizing it. Sounds logical, but let’s start factoring in human elements. Such things as fatigue, distraction, lack of training, rushing (getting in a hurry), poor communication, or lack of/poor supervision (leadership!) among others, can all contribute to less-than-effective hazard control. A workplace can have the best safety processes in place, but if the end-user (the worker) is not mentally engaged in that process, it may be all for naught.  So, what to do?

Since we’re now dealing with human interface, we introduce other human factors. Such factors as: empowerment, positive reinforcement, proper communication, personal intervention and coaching/teaching. All these are proactive human factors and are critical when countering the afore-mentioned detrimental factors. The secret to using these proactive factors is simple; use them consistently and without fail. Many in the Safety profession (this author included) believe a fifth step should be formally added to the hierarchy of controls. That would be the personal assessment. While many agree that a last-minute risk assessment such as Take 2, Step Back 5x5 and SPSA are all part of a worker’s daily routine, a personal assessment should consist of additional human factors, not just task-specific concerns. Once again, the only way a worker will arrive at such a mindset will be via effective leadership. A fully-engaged worker will be a safe worker and a safe worker requires Safety Leadership to become fully-engaged.

Founded in 1985, CECON LLC specializes in providing science and engineering consultants and expert witnesses. Consultants in their global network typically have more than 25 years of experience; CECON offers consultants in more than 200 disciplines, including pharmaceutical development and regulatory compliancechemical processing and safety,oil & gas, biotechnologymedical devicesnanotechnology, and polymers and coatings.

 

For details, visit www.cecon.com or call 302-994-8000.

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Carbon Capture Options

There have been recent articles about “CarbFix, a pilot program at Iceland’s Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station utilizing carbon capture and storage (CCS). CO2 gas is pumped underground and leads to its transformation to minerals.  This process eliminates the concern for underground storage sites that will remain stable for a long period of time (i.e. no earthquakes or geological faults are going to occur:  any rupture of underground storage layers would lead to catastrophic release of CO2 that affects the biomass near surface layers.)

Along with this single advantage come a few issues to consider with this approach, including its broader applicability:

  1. The geology of the Icelandic underground reserve. The process is intrusive to the natural balance. Per literature estimates, 1 million ton of CO2 would require 1 km3 of basalt reserve.
  2. According to literature and assuming the underground storage facility is at the right temperature to ensure fast kinetics per the article claim, a pressure of 200 to 400 bar might be required to drive the storage process.  Formation of carbonates might even make seeping of carbonated water more difficult.  How many kgs of COare released to atmosphere by large capacity pumps per ton of CO2 sequestered underground per cubic meter of Basalt? (This question is moot if the pumps operate using hydrothermal power).
  3. Water requirements. What volume of Icelandic water is required to dissolve 1 ton of CO2 gas where the pH of the water is a crucial factor in getting the maximum dissolution of CO2 gas?    If the process uses saline water or seawater, then implications to underground mineral water contamination have to be considered.
  4. The process is localized to the Icelandic territory. Most coal fired power plants or other CO2 emitting industrial facilities do not have the advantage of an underground basalt reserve, which became transformed to their present state from other minerals that already lost their CO2content due to thermally elevated conditions above ground or underground.

Compared to other carbon capture and conversion processes (i.e. Carbon Capture and Mineralization (CCM) or Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU)), the Icelandic project is expected to handle a much greater quantity of CO2 conversion at a minimum power loss. There are few industrial CCM and CCU processes that are either under pilot test or production stage that claim CO2 capture. If these facilities are powered by fossil fuel, then these cannot claim any carbon capture. Examples of these CCM/CCU processes are modified Solvay, Chlor-alkali, urea, polymerization, pilot electrochemical processes, and others.  The major advantage over the CCS basalt project is that the end products are usually commodity chemicals used for commercial purposes.  Finally, one process that uses membrane/ion exchange technology to process alkaline waste from industrial sites can compete with CCS basalt project in terms of energy and chemical byproducts.

Another trend that is getting serious consideration by scientists around the world is CO2 gas conversion to carbon monoxide (CO) gas and other basic precursors heavily used as start-up chemicals in chemical industry. That is, recycle CO2 gas instead of losing it to underground storage. A major hurdle in this regard is energy consumption, and scientists are searching for a breakthrough. A multibillion dollar CCU recycle process that is not CCM can have a major contribution to CCS technology at the global scale with world geopolitics. However, this topic will require a separate discussion.

The author of this blog post has a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry and is the inventor in 10 patents. His experience includes research in carbon capture, cartridge membrane mineral concentrators, semiconductor, metal, and ceramic surface cleaning and functionalization with surface coatings.   Click to read more about this technical expert. 

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