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This article was published 20/6/2017 (1025 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg company that has been selling environmentally friendly dust-control products to mining and industrial facilities all over the world is hoping a new organic formulation will now become the go-to choice for dust suppression on unpaved roadways.
On Monday, Cypher Environmental opened a production facility for its new formulation, Dust Stop Municipal Blend (DSMB), with a delegation of government and industry representatives from Belarus on hand.
DSMB was developed in collaboration with Red River College with the assistance of a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
Cypher’s previous products were geared more towards industrial use — mines and other dust-spewing facilities around the world — but president Todd Burns said this new, less expensive application will allow municipal and regional governments to use it on a cost-effective basis.
And while he believes there is plenty of demand — a recent market analysis from Persistence Market Research estimated there is a US$12.3-billion global market — Burns believes the environmental benefits might be even more important.
"Our biggest goal is to keep people from using highly corrosive chloride-based products (road salt) that are in widespread use around the world," Burns said.
He said millions of litres of road salt product are used annually in Manitoba alone just for dust control, not counting what’s used to deal with icy roads.
A paper done for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. more than a decade ago warned that if the use of road salt persists it will damage aquatic life in lakes all over North America and the same is true for its use elsewhere around the world.
Yuri Tarasov, a Toronto-based importer and exporter of mining equipment targeting markets in the former USSR, said there is a concerted interest in upgrading the roadway system in Belarus.
"Their primary roads are quite good, but recently the president of Belarus mandated that they do something about their secondary roads," said Tarasov, who helped organize the delegation that is in Winnipeg this week.
"They are very interested."
The concentrated liquid product — made with a combination of sugar, starches and a mineral component — is applied using a conventional water tanker with a mixture of nine parts water to one part DSMB.
"The whole issue is to increase stability in roads and address road-maintenance costs," he said.
"So it’s not just dust control. And it’s just a quick, easy spray on and you’re done."
A week ago, Burns was in Chile and Mexico doing demonstrations.
"The bulk of the competition selling products there meant to get rid of dust — which is an environmental hazard — are using products that are themselves environmental concerns, such as chlorides."
In Mexico he was at a mine site owned by a Canadian company that was using oil as a dust suppressor.
"We are really excited not just to replace use of chlorides but oil and other secondary products," he said.
Cypher has about a dozen Winnipeg employees and a couple more at a Calgary location.
Burns said as the new production gets up and running and the expected demand grows, he figures the company will have to hire another handful of people in the next year and hopefully many more as Cypher continues its campaign to eradicate the use of road salt around the world.
"Cypher’s new product is a perfect example of how Red River College partners with industry to foster innovation right here in Manitoba," said Paul Vogt, president of Red River College.
"It’s a real success story, as students and faculty worked on this project, our facilities were used and both the Cypher president and company staff are college graduates."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.