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Pulaski company prepares to launch pollutant filter system

A Pulaski-based company is poised to go commercial with technology that removes coal ash and other chemical pollutants from the air — extracting chemicals that can be recycled and sold for industrial use.

A team of scientists at Virginia Tech has released a preliminary report confirming proof of concept, MOVA Technologies President Steven Critchfield said last week, and the final report is expected in about two weeks.

Named Project Revolution, the panel-bed filtration system absorbs fly ash particles, nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide and carbon dioxide from coal-fired chimney stacks at plants. Captured chemicals could then be sold to manufacturers to be used for other purposes, including producing paper, dyes, cement and fertilizers.

“It’s literally going to revolutionize pollution control,” said Critchfield, a prominent property investor in Pulaski County. The new system is expected to cost about 25% less than existing pollution-removal systems, which typically run like catalytic converters, reducing toxic emissions from power plants but not absorbing chemicals, he says.

MOVA has worked closely with Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture, chemistry department and mechanical engineering department, where Joseph Meadows was principal investigator for the proof of concept report, which was released June 29. According to the report, “the Virginia Tech team believes that a successful POC was achieved,” meaning that the system captures gaseous pollutants.

The report was expected four or five months ago, Critchfield said, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the process, cutting off the last week of testing at Tech’s Advanced Propulsion and Power Lab. Because MOVA started at Virginia Tech, some of its patents will benefit the university, Meadows said.

Meadows and his colleague, Virginia Tech chemical engineering professor Steve Martin, found that the system’s absorption of nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide “were very promising,” Meadows said Monday. He added that the prototype, which was produced by Lynchburg-based TruCut Fabricators, could use some additional work but that the overall process of converting pollutants into components that industries could reuse “could be revolutionary.”

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