Ultrasystems Inc., an Irvine engineering and construction company, and Bacardi Corp., the Puerto Rican rum distiller, announced Monday the signing of an agreement to build systems that turn non-toxic industrial wastes into usable energy.
Using Bacardi's patented process, Ultrasystems plans to design and build oxygen-free systems that rely on active microorganisms to convert waste material into methane-rich gas. The primary market for the systems includes food and drug producers seeking economical ways to dispose of waste products. The gas produced by the systems can be burned as an energy source.
Philip J. Stevens, president and chairman of Ultrasystems, said he considers Bacardi's process the most advanced of its kind. He said Bacardi's "reputation of excellence" in the spirits and distillery industry will carry over into the waste-treatment industry. Neither company released any financial information about the agreement.
Construction plans have not yet been set, Ultrasystems officials said, but a number of businesses in several locations are being looked at as possible sites for the systems.
"We are still determining the market potential," said Cal Todd, vice president of marketing for Ultrasystems' food and chemical division, in a telephone interview. "But most food or pharmaceutical manufacturers have a need for this type of treatment plant."
He said the market is two-fold: companies that want to use their waste products to generate inexpensive energy and those that need to meet government waste disposal regulations. Todd said many U.S. companies fall into the latter group, so the timing of the agreement is good. He said the systems do not solve toxic waste problems but are an excellent alternative to dumping non-toxic, oxygen-rich waste products into overloaded sewage systems.
Manuel Luis del Valle, president of Bacardi, said in a statement, "We are pleased to enter into this working relationship with Ultrasystems, whom we regard as a leader in the environmental and energy industries."