By Bob Dunklau, OMI Industries

While odor abatement has not been a top priority for industry professionals historically, widespread social media use and heightened public scrutiny has made it increasingly relevant for processors who wish to be good neighbors and uphold a positive reputation.

Before this age, odor mitigation projects typically began with civic action that required substantial time and effort on the part of impacted communities, such as writing letters to the offending company or to regulatory authorities, collecting petition signatures, or interviewing with local newspapers. But today, a single social media post can be sufficient to rally support, and spread like wildfire.

In addition to being a good neighbor, improving employee satisfaction is a key driver for modern odor management. Unpleasant odors have always been a nuisance, but more recently, they have been linked to stress and sickness.

The push for better working conditions began in earnest in the 1900s, but odor control received relatively little attention until much more recently. For this and other reasons, it is an underdeveloped field we are working to change at Ecosorb. I discuss this more at length in my article in the July 2023 issue of OEM magazine, titled “Neutralize Industrial Odors Using Skid-Mounted, Plant-Based Systems.”

Odor measurement

Unlike emissions, which can be objectively measured, odors are subjective and more difficult to quantify chemically. Currently,

The Nasal Ranger is the go-to mainstream device for odor component measurements, operated by holding it up to a user’s nose while he or she repeatedly sniffs and spins a pinwheel until the offending odor is no longer noticeable.

Odor mitigation measures can be assessed by comparing measurements before and after odor treatment, or during equipment operation and non-use.

Advancing odor control with plant-based neutralizers

Many odor abatement products on the market are toxic to breathe in high quantities, and most of these are not all that effective.

Our company saw the need to improve scientific quantification of unpleasant odors, and we developed a method using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to analyze air samples collected at the source of these odors.

We first identify the sample components that cause malodors and then formulate agents that use plant oils to chemically neutralize the specific odor-causing molecules on contact. Skid-based vaporizers disperse these agents into the air to remove odors before they can escape the area.

Compared to this strategic method, masking odors is quicker and cheaper, but much less effective and sustainable. Most masking agents simply cover one unpleasant smell with another and often contain harsh chemicals.

In our work to modernize odor control solutions, our company is collaborating with other organizations to develop sensors that quantify odor intensity. Vaporization systems can use these types of measurements to optimize dosing of plant-based neutralizers.

Specially formulated plant-based neutralizers are among the safest and most effective odor control agents across a wide range of industries. These formulations can be delivered via vaporization equipment contained on a single skid for ease of testing and installation in industrial environments. To start focusing more on your manufacturing or process operations,
and spend less time fielding odor complaints, contact our team of experts at Ecosorb to visit your facility and prescribe a solution.