Imagine that you’ve poured your heart, soul, and entire life savings into your new start-up environmental technology company. Imagine that that you are approached by a seemingly credible individual that offers to assist your company in accessing government programs and services. Imagine that you wake up one day to the news reports that associate your company with a political scandal.
This is the scenario lived by Jim Wright of Wright Tech Systems Inc. (Wright Tech).
The mainstream Canadian media has had a field day reporting on the Guergis/Jaffer affair this past spring. Helena Guergis was forced to resign her federal cabinet position and was then kicked out of the Conservative caucus after a series of negative media reports about her were compounded with private allegations hinting at criminal transgressions. Guergis’ husband, Rahim Jaffer — himself a former Member of Parliament (MP) — was reported to have lobbied the government on behalf of private companies although he was not a registered lobbyist, and of using his wife’s parliamentary office to conduct private business.
Shortly after being losing his seat in the October 2008 federal election, Jaffer and Patrick Glémaud co-founded Green Power Generation Corp. (GPG), a company specializing in bringing to market innovative technology solutions in renewable energy generation and greenhouse gas mitigation.
Jim Wright, the founder and owner of Wright Tech and partner in Green Rite Solutions, found his company linked in the media to the Guergis/Jaffer affair. The linkage was due to the fact that he had preliminary meetings with GPG in the course of promoting his technology.
Representatives from Wright Tech Inc. and its marketing division, Green Rite Solutions Inc., met Jaffer and his business partner in the course of promoting their advanced waste conversion technology in Canada and abroad. The meetings were preliminary and fact-finding initiatives only. At no time did GPG or its partners have any finical interest in Wright Tech or Green Rite, and at no time did any payments of any kind move between any of the parties. Furthermore, lobbying for funding was not discussed.
Similarly, the interaction between Wright and MP Guergis (who represented the riding in which he lived) consisted of a brief telephone conversation about the merits of his technology for use in Simcoe County. He had a similar discussion with his local MPP. Neither discussion, to his knowledge, had any result.
Upon close examination of the facts, it’s clear that Wright is a victim of guilt by association, regardless of how brief it was. Regardless of the unfortunate situation he has found himself in, Wright Tech does have promising technology.
Wright Tech markets itself as a company that can provides complete turnkey solutions for organic waste-to-energy (WTE) projects, with a processing capacity ranging from 50 to 1,000 tonnes per day.
The core of the company’s organic WTE projects is its patented Biodryer® technology. The dryer can transform organic waste into biomass fuel in 14 days or less.
The Biodryer works be first heating the organic matter for seven days, then mechanically aerating it, followed by seven days of drying in a fully enclosed flow-through tunnel.
A mechanical aeration system separates the heating and drying zones and is designed to break up clumps of material while increasing their surface area for optimal drying.
In the first section of the dryer (referred to as the Heating Zone), incoming organic material is allowed to degrade. The heat generated during degradation destroys any pathogens within the material.
In the Drying Zone, hot air generated through biological oxidation of the waste in the first zone is utilized (via heat exchanger) to dry the material over a seven-day period.
Optimal performance of the system is achieved if the operator ensures the carbon-nitrogen ratio, porosity, and pH of the waste is such that high-efficiency biological oxidation by microorganisms can occur.
The biggest advantage that a BioDryer has over a conventional thermal dryer is that no fossil fuels are needed. The technology is low energy and is capable of producing a high quality biomass fuel (up to 20,000 kJ/kg depending on feedstock) for a multitude of uses including cement kilns, greenhouses, and power plants.
Wright may disagree with the old saying that there is no such thing as bad press. Yet the brief and innocent association with Jaffer is likely to have already faded from the minds of many Canadians. Future success of the company will hinge on it convincing potential clients of the technical and economic merits of its waste management solution.
John Nicholson, M.Sc., P.Eng., is a consultant based in Toronto, Ontario. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org