Cousteau, a world-renowned environmentalist, ocean adventurer and film producer, will act as Blue Box's lead adviser and representative on environmental issues, as the company looks to deploy its patent-pending foam system for industrial clients.
Blue Box is an early phase Clean Tech company that uses a compact, portable foam system to clean a vast variety of industrial equipment. The company aims to dramatically change industrial maintenance by enabling companies to save money by substantially reducing their use of water, energy, toxic chemicals, and CO2 emissions.
James P. Metropoulos, CEO of Blue Box, told Digital Journal that "Half of all the energy in the U.S. is consumed by industrial equipment and roughly a third of this energy is wasted because these systems run fouled, or dirty." With greater volumes of energy needed to run dirty systems, he added, it drives up energy costs for companies and increases CO2 output.
But cleaning these industrial systems is not easy said Metropoulos, "They need to be taken apart and hydrowashed. And it's this dismantling and downtime that makes maintenance so expensive (and dangerous)." As a result added the CEO, "Companies will not clean that system again until they absolutely have to."
"Blue Box is designed to turn this thinking on its head" said Metropoulos. "First, we eliminate the need to dismantle in order to clean, which means we can clean a system in hours, instead of days." The system is also easy to deploy, does not require a huge team of technicians and "by cleaning systems just as the energy curve starts going up" the CEO added, "companies can keep equipment running at peak thermal efficiency."
The new system could offer a win-win situation for both companies and the environment; less downtime and lower energy usage could subsequently contribute to a decrease in CO2 emissions if companies climb onboard. But how does the foam system work?
"One Blue Box" alone said Metropoulos, "is capable of filling a three story house with foam." An important factor says the CEO because it means the Blue Box is capable of cleaning "Nearly any size industrial system found in any type of industry, ranging from oil refineries to office buildings."
The type of foam used he said, is based upon the equipment being cleaned. Metropoulos explained that for something like scale buildup (calcium for example), "We will use some type of acid, such as hydrochloric or sulfamic," and for hydrocarbon residues he adds, "we typically will use various degreasers, such as Simple Green's formulations."
As for the foam process itself, Metropoulos says to imagine "Oven cleaner, but on a very large scale." The foam itself works, he says:
By combining both mechanical action with chemical reactivity. When we fill up a system with foam, we can then inject air into the system to create a washing machine effect, or we can circulate the foam throughout the equipment. With billions of bubbles working, the effect is to quickly breakdown all the residue molecules inside, which then fall into the foam. We then will inject new foam in, so as to push out the spent foam.
And what happens to the spent foam after it has cleaned the equipment?
"We bring the foam back into the system and then defoam and neutralize the waste stream so that it exits as a pH neutral dirty water," said Metropoulos, and "of course this waste stream is safely diverted into containers and then hauled away for proper disposal."
According to Jean-Michel Cousteau, the Blue Box foam system delivers "A practical, real, and sustainable solution that solves real problems," and "provides a model for companies to reduce their costs while they are reducing their environmental footprint."
Cousteau, founder and president of Ocean Futures Society
, describes Blue Box as "One of the most economical, practical and immediate tools we have to clean up industry for a sustainable future for all of us. Cleaner industry saves money, water, and energy, and will lead directly to a cleaner and better planet and ocean," he said.
Metropolous added, that if US industry improved the energy consumption of their industrial equipment by just 1%, "This would be the CO2 equivalent of "doubling" all the solar panels currently installed in the U.S."
At its core, the CEO says, Blue Box is indeed chemical cleaning, "But in a way that greatly reduces the volume of water and chemicals used." For example, if a boiler needed to be filled with 10,000 gallons of water and chemicals in order for it to be cleaned says Metropolous, Blue Box would fill that same boiler with 10,000 gallons of foam, which would equal about 1,000 gallons of liquid materials.
"That is a 90% reduction in toxic waste stream," adds the CEO, and seeing as "U.S. industry consumes roughly $15 billion worth of chemicals just for cleaning their systems" he explained, that's a "Literal ocean of toxic chemicals" that could "be reduced by 75%-90%, simply by converting to foam."
Blue Box is based in Manhattan Beach, CA. Their technology has been used by UCLA, Raytheon, and Linde Corp, with pilot programs established with USC and Nestle. The company has recently successfully secured its initial round of investment capital and was awarded crowd favorite "Best New Technology and Fast Pitch" at UCLA's 2012 California Clean Innovation Conference. The company can be reached at Blueboxfoam.com