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Release: April 19, 2001

Environmental services firm locates at TIC

CORALVILLE, Iowa -- Just in time for Earth Day, the University of Iowa Technology Innovation Center (TIC) will welcome an environmental services firm to its business incubator on the Oakdale Research Campus in Coralville. The newest TIC tenant will be Essential Science, Inc., a company that develops technology to measure reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa approved the company's lease at the TIC at its meeting Wednesday in Vinton.

Essential Science President Richard Ney, who will receive his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the UI this May, will develop and market the measurement technology based on eight years of research at the UI and a decade of successful consulting practice.

The company is breaking into the new market of trading credits for greenhouse gas emissions, which would be established under international agreements, U.S. legislation for voluntary emissions programs, and private trading initiatives. In an emissions trading program, a government or trading agency issues a number of permits or allowances to sources of a particular pollutant (in this case greenhouse gases) to release a specified number of tons of the pollutant, consistent with the desired level of emissions. The owners of the permits may keep them and release the pollutants or reduce their emissions and sell the permits.

"It provides an economic reward for doing the right thing environmentally," Ney explained.

By developing new techniques to confidently measure greenhouse gas reductions, Essential Science will help companies verify and improve their emission trades, providing higher value for their emission credits. The company will focus on trades involving energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, such as switchgrass and poplar trees, or carbon stored within soils from converting row crop agriculture to prairie or grass, or switching to no-till or organic farming applications.

The emission trading market has great potential to benefit both the industrial and agricultural sectors of the Iowa economy, Ney said. Farmers and corporate landowners can be paid for converting to these carbon-storing practices on the private contract market. Even if the Kyoto Protocol is not ratified, Ney believes the emissions trading market remains strong with solid commitments from DuPont, Shell, and several other major corporations voluntarily pledging to reduce their emission levels.

"There is a tremendous amount of activity in this area, even in the absence of formal legislative support from the U.S. Congress. The time is right for Essential Science to be an early leader in providing services to this emerging market," Ney said.

The company will assist industries, electric utilities, the agricultural community, and governmental agencies to develop emission reduction programs, and also provide measurement services to determine the amount of emissions that is occurring through the program.

Essential Science will be located in Suite 231 of the TIC.

One of the university’s technology transfer programs, the TIC was established in 1984 to nurture new technology-based business ventures and to encourage those companies to establish relationships with the UI.

When Essential Sciences' lease becomes effective May 1, the TIC will have 14 tenant companies. Some 17 TIC "graduate" firms have expanded their business after leaving the incubator.

For additional information about the TIC, contact Tom Bauer, associate director, at (319) 335-4067.