Rubicon produces ortho isomer of toluene diamine (O/I material) as a by-product from making toluene diamine (TDA). O/I material has always been considered a waste and therefore burned in a hazardous waste superheater for energy recovery. A waste minimization team suggested that O/I material might have a commercial use.Another product that Rubicon makes is polyether polyols. There are numerous types of polyols specified by customers for specific uses. The suggestion was to use O/I material as an additive in a certain polyol product. Trial runs in the laboratory looked promising. Larger scale tests were then conducted to determine product compatibility and utilization. The next step was to market the mateial and generate customers for the new product. Rubicon received increasing orders for the new product, and installed extra tankage and loading facilities to accomodate new product sales.
This was a clear departure from "business-as-usual". A few people continued asking questions, as encouraged by Rubicon policy, and convinced other successive groups to invest resources in R&D, testing, and marketing of a new product.
Compared to DCM releases of 11,000 lbs/yr in 1988, and 7,600 lbs/yr in 1996, figures for 1997 are well below the minimum emission rate of 540 lbs/yr, a 95% reduction. Since DCM is also a suspected carcinogen and a reproductive toxin (TLV 100 ppm), removing it from the process has improved the health and safety of the workforce. Eliminating Freon TMC also reduced CFC 113 usage by approximately 10,000 lbs/yr.
Details of ReductionsSource: LDEQ