Addressing the pong and odour challenge

Written by: RWW | Published:

It is not often that you come across a company that includes elements as diverse as a microbiologist, a product based on pumice stone along with contracts in Australia and the Middle East. However, Odour Services International Ltd (OSIL) can boast all of the above and then some. Geraldine Faulkner, editor of Recycling & Waste World, reports.

Created in 2007 by Matt Wilkes and Jas Sohl, Staffordshire-based OSIL is an independent service provider specialising in the field of air pollution control in industries as varied as recycling, waste to energy, energy, food and beverage along with waster and waste waster.

However, Wilkes is in no doubt as to where a big chunk of OSIL’s future business will be in the future: waste, waste and more waste.

“Waste to energy is going to be a big market for us,” predicts the engineering director. “There has been a massive increase with anaerobic digestion (AD) plants being built and the surplus gases are being burned to generate electricity and fed back to the grid. They are exciting projects as they are totally energy self-sufficient. We are called in as there are emissions that need to be controlled at these facilities and clients have a responsibility to provide safe environments.”

So what services does OSIL offer clients? 

By developing its own bespoke technologies, the company uses biofiltration, wet scrubbing systems, dry media adsorption and membrane systems to provide the necessary control for any air pollution.

Five strategic areas

“There are five strategic areas for OSIL,” explains Wilkes. “These are our consultancy services; air pollution control, odour control, gas conditioning as well as service and maintenance. Some might ask: ‘What is the difference between air pollution control and odour pollution?’ “Odour control is just one specific area of air pollution that has its own technologies and techniques for reliable, proven and sustainable control. The field of air pollution is a vast opportunity to ensure that the air we breathe is as clean as possible,” explains Wilkes before adding: “Of course, the systems that are provided need to be maintained and OSIL have a specialisation in providing this service too. It is what sets us apart and has resulted in our building up an enviable reputation with companies such as Thames Water.”

When asked why the company name includes ‘International’, Wilkes smiles. 

“It was originally to attract overseas interest. We now have operations in Australia, India, Malaysia and the Middle East.” 

How did you get started in these countries? 

“It was because Jas was interested in the Middle East and I wanted Australia while the other countries came about because they were identified as emerging markets. In all cases we commissioned OMIS reports to get us started,” remembers the director.

OMIS stands for ‘overseas market introduction service’ and is offered by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). Its purpose is to give UK businesses access to local trade experts, reports and advice around the world.

“We work very closely with UKTI and various opportunities have been presented to us in exciting territories. We have found it a very useful tool and I would recommend it as the first port of call for a business if they don’t already have an existing contact. 

“It takes anything from six to eight weeks for an OMIS to be developed and basically they ‘warm up’ clients. For instance, when we worked on the one for Australia, people were lined up to see us when we arrived in the country. There was no need to go knocking on people’s doors. We came home with a couple of nice consultancy orders,” recalls Wilkes.

Special asset

While the company has now grown to a workforce of 33 people, OSIL has a ‘special asset’ in the unassuming form of Dr Wan Li Low, a microbiologist who is a process development scientist from Wolverhampton University and who has worked with OSIL to develop the use of bacteria to eliminate bad smells. 

The work Dr Wan Li Low has been carrying out with OSIL through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) - an initiative which supports UK businesses wanting to improve their performance by accessing the expertise available within UK universities and colleges - has been so successful the microbiologist has been awarded a KTP Business Leader of Tomorrow award.

“What makes this award so special is that people are normally given the award after a project has been completed, whereas in this case, Wan Li won her award three quarters of the way through her KTP,” states Wilkes.

The project Dr Wan Li Low is working on with OSIL identifies the relevant bacteria to suit the prevailing odours given off from waste water and rubbish found in the recycling industry, as an alternative to existing chemical solutions, to give a truly bespoke solution.

Wilkes again: “With the cultivation of various bacteria strains, this has enabled us to be the number one in biotechnology. We tailor the biotechnology for our clients’ specific problems and this sets us apart from our competitors.”

A product that certainly sets OSIL apart from its competitors is its LavaRok bio-scrubbing technology. “A lot of our competitors have offered LavaRok to clients, which although it is illegal since OSIL owns the trademark, it is a backhanded compliment in a way,” adds the engineering director. “Except it doesn’t bring the usual benefits for the client as they will have gone for the cheaper alternative. It is important to apply the correct biotechnology as each project is different and the excitement is in meeting and exceeding the challenge. Basically, it makes you think in a different way on every project.”

He pauses before adding with a chuckle: “All the projects smell, but that’s good.”

FACT FILE:

Odour Services International Ltd offers a range of services that include:

- Consultancy: Helping clients understand the best solution for their problem and how to deal with it

- Asset and scoping studies: Understanding what the client has installed and how effective the system is

- Site refurbishment: Optimising and increasing the asset life of odour control systems

- Design and New build: Providing the right odour control system for clients

- Maintenance: Keeping systems running efficiently


Technologies include:

Multi-stage chemical scrubbing system

Biological solutions

Dry scrubbing system

Dispersion systems

Covers

Odour monitoring

Change in operational practice

Computational fluid dynamics

Typical refurbishment services include:

Existing site dismantling and removal

Site preparation

Re-inoculation for failing biofiltration systems

Installation of new equipment

Health & safety

Media replacement

M&E

Re-balancing and re-commissioning


Clients include:

Thames Water

Shanks Waste Management

Kier/May Gurney

Anglian Water

United Utilities Water

SSE

Welsh Water

Scottish Water

General Motors

Interserve

 

- For more information about OSIL, visit www.osiltd.com



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