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Frank Schaedlich & Daniel Schneeberger

Location: Toronto, ON

Award: Innovation Award

Category: Environment

Year: 2007

Innovation:

Their revolutionary work in mercury monitoring lead to their development of the first practical continuous emissions monitoring (CEM) system. The Tekran® Series 3300 mercury CEM operates automatically 24/7, to detect various forms of the mercury in smoke stack gas. Read the News Release and Media Backgrounder for additional information.

News Release

Ontario innovators win $10,000 Manning Innovation Award for mercury-monitoring system

Calgary, AB (September 19th, 2007) — Frank Schaedlich and Daniel Schneeberger have won a $10,000 Manning Innovation Award, sponsored by the Arthur J.E. Child Foundation, for their revolutionary work on mercury monitoring, culminating with the Tekran® Series 3300 Mercury Continuous Emissions Monitor (CEM). The CEM operates automatically, 24/7 to detect various forms of mercury in smoke stack gas, a particularly difficult task given the cocktail of emissions.

Mercury contamination is a serious health concern, even at low levels. Schaedlich and Schneeberger expanded mercury-monitoring capabilities in 1993 by developing an automated Total Mercury Analyzer, which rapidly and continuously measures the amount of mercury in ambient air. This innovation became a building block for their CEM.

Schneeberger said that he and his colleague are honoured to receive an award from a Canadian foundation, adding that the recognition from outside the mercury-testing community is especially gratifying.

The Nanticoke Generating Station in Ontario and Poplar River Generating Station in Saskatchewan are two of many coal-fired plants that use the Tekran® Series 3300 CEM. The US Environmental Protection Agency has tested the CEM and purchased several units.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year Foundation will award $165,000 in prize money. Four awards totalling $145,000 will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Canadians chosen at the 2007 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovation. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented $3.76 million in prize money through its annual awards program.

The 2007 awards will be presented at an awards gala on September 28th in Toronto, Ontario. The 2007 Manning Principal Award Winner will be announced September 25th.

A Media Backgrounder about the innovator and his work is available on the Foundation's website: www.manningawards.ca
For more information on the Foundation, contact Bruce Fenwick, Executive Director, 403-645-8288 or Nina C. Pudwell, Communications Coordinator, at 403-645-3006 or Nina.Pudwell@encana.com
For more information on Tekran®'s monitoring products, visit www.tekran.com or contact the award winners: Mr. Frank Schaedlich can be reached at 416-449-3084 or fschaedlich@tekran.com Mr. Daniel Schneeberger can be reached at 416-449-3084 or drs@tekran.com

 

 

Media Backgrounder

$10,000 Manning Innovation Award

Sponsored by Arthur J. E. Child Foundation

Frank Schaedlich and Daniel Schneeberger, Continuous Emissions Monitoring System for Mercury

Who?

  • Frank Schaedlich, BSc, President and Co-Founder of Tekran Inc.
  • Daniel Schneeberger, EET, Co-Founder of Tekran Inc.
  • Schaedlich and Schneeberger's innovations in mercury monitoring led to their development of the first practical continuous emissions monitoring (CEM) system for mercury

What?

  • The Tekran® Series 3300 Mercury Continuous Emissions Monitor operates automatically, 24/7 to detect various forms of mercury in smoke stack gas. Schaedlich and Schneeberger have won a $10,000 Manning Innovation Award for their revolutionary work on mercury monitoring, culminating with the Tekran® CEM

Where?

  • The Nanticoke Generating Station in Ontario and Poplar River Generating Station in Saskatchewan are two of many coal-fired plants that use the Tekran® Series 3300 CEM; hundreds of power plants in the United States will soon be using the CEM for mercury emissions monitoring.
  • The Canadian scientists who discovered the extent of mercury contamination in the Arctic relied on Tekran® mercury monitors
  • Tekran Inc. (now Tekran Instruments Corporation) was founded in Toronto, Ontario, where Schaedlich and Schneeberger now head an expanded research and development group; while the Toronto facility continues to manufacture laboratory and ambient air monitoring equipment; a new office in Knoxville, Tennessee provides sales of industrial systems and support services to US customers

When?

  • Schaedlich and Schneeberger found Tekran Inc. in 1989
  • Schaedlich and Schneeberger begin a revolution in mercury-monitoring in 1993, with the development of an automated Total Mercury Analyzer, which rapidly and continuously measures the amount of mercury in ambient air
  • In 1998, Schaedlich and Schneeberger discover a way to differentiate among various forms of mercury in air samples
  • Building on their prior innovations, Schaedlich and Schneeberger design a monitoring system that screens smoke stack gas for mercury; the Tekran® Series 3300 continuous emissions monitoring system is installed at the Nanticoke power plant in Ontario, Canada in 2002
  • In 2005, Schaedlich and Schneeberger sell Tekran Inc., which is renamed Tekran Instruments Corporation; while the Toronto, Ontario facility remains active, a new office opens in Knoxville, Tennessee to serve US clients requiring power plant mercury monitoring systems

Why?

Mercury contamination of air, water and soil is a serious health concern, even at low levels. Mercury typically enters the food chain after microbes convert it into methyl-mercury, which accumulates in plants and animals. The highly toxic compound builds up in the food chain with damaging effects on wildlife and people. Nerve damage and birth defects are just two of the possible consequences of eating mercury-contaminated fish.

When governments began to make mercury-monitoring a priority in the early 1990s, available testing methods were cumbersome, time-consuming and unable to detect mercury at very low concentrations. It was Tekran®'s Total Mercury Analyzer that made testing ultra-sensitive and automatic, with results every few minutes. As a consequence, scientists no longer had to analyze air samples in an ultra-clean lab.

"Everything is done inside the box..." said Tekran®'s Frank Schaedlich, "and so the entire analyzer can run in a fairly foul and nasty environment."

Further improvements to the device made it capable of distinguishing among different forms of mercury. Mercury changes form as it reacts with other substances, and knowing which forms are out there is key to tracking its path through the environment. Said Schaedlich, "Scientists now have a much better handle on the mechanisms of how mercury travels and converts back and forth among the various media in the biosphere."

Natural sources of mercury occur, but many human activities add large amounts of mercury to the environment. Fluorescent lamps and coal-fired power plants are two major culprits. Typical smoke stack gas, for example, contains some 2500 times the amount of mercury found in ambient air.

Measuring mercury in smoke stack gas is particularly challenging because the gas contains many substances. However Tekran®'s continuous emissions monitoring systems-in operation at dozens of sites in North America-overcome this obstacle. With accurate mercury-monitoring, governments are now in a position to impose limits on mercury emissions.

How to Find a Needle in Haystack


Take two parts mercury and divide by 100 trillion parts air: That's the typical concentration of mercury in the atmosphere. Tekran®'s Frank Schaedlich and Daniel Schneeberger took on the challenge of measuring ultra-low-and yet potentially toxic-concentrations of mercury while working with the government of Ontario in the 1990s. By 1992, they had developed a continuous monitoring system.

The total ambient air analyzer-a core technology in current Tekran® models-had several features that set it apart from traditional mercury-monitors. For one, the analyzer was automated, containing two, durable solid gold cartridges, used to alternately collect and analyze each air sample that entered the chamber. In addition, the entire device was completely self-contained in order to safeguard samples from contamination.

Schaedlich and Schneeberger's next innovation was the Ambient Mercury Speciation Unit, which could distinguish between elemental mercury and its more reactive forms. The researchers' discovery that a potassium salt could be used to separate out reactive mercury was the basis for the unit. A unique regenerable filter unit was also added to collect particulate mercury.

More recently Schaedlich and Schneeberger have developed a mercury-monitoring system that can distinguish among different forms of mercury in power plant emissions. The system separates mercury into its different forms, but using a different process than the Mercury Speciation Unit because of the nature of smoke stack emissions.

"There's a lot of nasty stuff in smoke stack gas," said Schaedlich, adding, "it's basically like trying to find a needle in a haystack."

Not Just a Fish Story

When scientists discovered, in the mid-90s, how much mercury was falling out of the Arctic sky during springtime, they thought their monitoring systems were failing.

"It took us over a year to actually convince everybody that the numbers were correct," said Frank Schaedlich, who, along with Daniel Schneeberger, invented the Tekran® mercury-monitoring instrumentation being used to study the global sources and transport of mercury in the environment.

Indeed, the numbers were real. Canadian scientist William Schroeder brought the discovery of Arctic springtime depletion of mercury to the world's attention in 1998. American and Norwegian scientists confirmed the phenomenon using Tekran® equipment.

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Business Partner

When testing a Tekran® device that analyzes hair for mercury, sushi-loving Frank Schaedlich made an interesting discovery: He had the highest levels of mercury in the company. Business partner Dan Schneeberger, a strict vegetarian, turned out to have the lowest levels of the heavy metal.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year the Foundation will award $165,000 in prize money. Four awards, totalling $145,000, will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Canadians chosen at the 2007 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of prominent Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovators. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented $3.76 million in prize money through its annual awards program (www.manningawards.ca).