Pure Water. Clean Air. Better World.
Calgon Carbon Corporation is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based company that manufactures and markets products that remove contaminants and odors from liquids and gases, both for industrial, municipal, and consumer markets. Calgon Carbon's product lines typically use activated carbon in various forms, UV light technology, or ion exchange technology, and the company is the largest producer of granular activated carbon (GAC) in the world. The company also offers reactivation services, wherein activated carbon can be recycled.
Originally formed as the Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical Company in the 1940s, the company's main operations are currently centered in North America with branches overseas such as Chemviron Carbon in Europe, Calgon Carbon Japan KK in Japan, Calgon Carbon Thailand Ltd. in Thailand, and Hyde Marine, Inc. As of 2015 Calgon Carbon operates fifteen facilities for manufacturing, reactivation, and equipment in the US, Asia, and Europe, and employs around 1,100 people. In early 2015 the company moved their headquarters from the Pittsburgh suburb of Robinson to nearby Moon Township.
Calgon Carbon Corporation was founded as the Pittsburgh Coke and Chemical Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Initially the company manufactured products such as coke fuel in support of the local steel industry. Owned in part by the Pittsburgh "steel tycoon" J. Hartwell Hillman, Jr., in 1940 the company began operating a manufacturing plant on Neville Island. The United States government commissioned Pittsburgh Coke and Chemical to develop a new filtering agent for use in military gas masks in 1942. At the time coconut shells were typically used as the raw material to produce granular activated carbon (GAC) for mask filters, and Pittsburgh Coke and Chemical instead began producing a GAC product with bituminous coal.
The 1952 steel strike led to the company coming under the auspices of Harry Truman's controversial and short-lived Executive Order 10340, which ordered that steel industry facilities could be seized by the government to support the Korean War effort. Over a dozen other companies in Pittsburgh were affected by the order as well. Pittsburgh Coke and Chemical introduced their "Pittsburgh pulse bed" system in 1955, which was one of the first activated carbon systems to decolorize sugar. In 1956, Fortune Magazine ranked Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical as No. 488 on the Fortune 500, which lists fastest-growing US companies.
The company's activated carbon division developed new water treatment methods in 1960, and two years later the division installed 40,000 pounds of their carbon for the Virginia-American Water Co, a notable contract for the company. Also in the early 1960s the company began using their granular activated carbon (GAC) for removing tastes and odors.
In the early 1960s the Neville Island facility became the formation site of Pittsburgh Activated Carbon Company, the next evolution of the company. In 1965 the Calgon Corporation acquired Pittsburgh Activated Carbon. When Calgon Corporation was restructured in 1967 and split into six autonomous divisions, the Pittsburgh Activated Carbon Company division began operating its own marketing and manufacturing. Calgon Corporation was then acquired by Merck & Co. in 1968. In the late 1960s Pittsburgh Activated Carbon Company became increasingly involved with municipal drinking water treatment, and in 1970 the company's European marketing branch Chemviron opened headquarters in Brussels. Calgon Corporation formed a joint venture with Mitsui Chemicals and Mitsui & Co in 1978, branching into Japan.
As of 1985, Calgon Carbon was operating as a subsidiary of Merck and Co. However, that year Calgon Carbon's management purchased their own company from Merck and Co in a leveraged buyout. Calgon Carbon made an initial public offering of common stock in 1987. Around 1990 the company came out with an "advanced UV oxidation process to remediate contaminated groundwater," and three years later Thames Water, a large utilities company in the United Kingdom, granted Calgon Carbon exclusive rights to market technology that cleaned organic compounds such as pesticides out of drinking water.
Calgon Carbon was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1991, and throughout the 1990s it bought a number of subsidiaries, with Calgon Carbon's executive Colin Bailey overseeing many of the acquisitions. In 1996 it purchased the various operations of Vulcan Peroxidation Systems in Arizona and Solarchem Enterprises in Ontario, both of which produce perox-pure. Also that year Calgon Carbon acquired Advanced Separation Technologies in Florida and Charcoal Cloth (International) in Britain, the latter of which manufactures activated carbon in cloth form.
In 1997 Calgon Carbon Asia was formed as a marketing subsidiary in Singapore, serving much of Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand. Calgon Carbon Corporation's CEO resigned in February 1998, reportedly over differences with the board of directors over company direction, and Calgon Carbon hired the firm Morgan Stanley for advice on a possible company sale. Also in 1998, the company developed a process to inactivate pathogens such as Cryptosporidium in drinking water, using UV disinfection. At that point the company launched two new products: ISEP for perchlorate removal using a continuous ion exchange system, and Sentinel UV Disinfection System, a disinfectant for pathogens.
In 2002 the company opened a manufacturing plant in China. The company also formed a joint venture with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation to manufacture and market products in Japan. Waterlink Specialty Products (Sutcliffe Speakman in Europe and Barnebey Sutcliffe in the United States) was acquired in 2004. Calgon Carbon entered in a joint venture with C. Gigantic Carbon (Gigantic) in 2006, forming Calgon Carbon (Thailand) Ltd. to expand into Thailand. In 2007 the company secured its first contract for its FLUEPAC product, a form of powdered activated carbon for treatment of mercury in flue gas streams.
Calgon Carbon acquired the firm Zwicky Denmark and Sweden in 2010, which had long been a distributor for Chemivron Carbon, and Calgon Carbon also purchased the stock of Hyde Marine, a company that manufacturers equipment using filtration and UV disinfection to treat marine ballast water. In 2011, the company formed by the venture of Calgon Carbon and Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, called Calgon Carbon Japan KK (CCJ), was fully acquired by Calgon Carbon Corporation. Also in 2011 the company announced a contract with Phoenix, Arizona to provide reactivation services, and Calgon Carbon began construction on a new facility in Arizona.
Randy Dearth became Calgon Carbon's CEO in June 2012, after his predecessor John Stanik retired. Dearth had previously worked at Bayer Corporation and as a CEO of Lanxess Corporation. Also in 2012, Seth Schofield was appointed independent chairman of the board. In May 2013 Dearth announced the company would be working to cut annual expenses by $30 million by the end of 2014. The company, which had recently closed a plant in China, reduced their number of products by 45 percent early in the cost-cutting cycle. Calgon Carbon also did an early retirement program and restructured their business units.
As of September 2013 Calgon Carbon was "one of the top three suppliers of activated carbon for the mercury removal market and supplies 32 electric generating units that produce 14.2 gigawatts of electricity." That summer the EPA's pending Mercury and Air Toxins Standards required all power plants to filter the mercury emitted by burning coal. At the time, the EPA recommended activated carbon as the best available "control technology for mercury removal." Calgon Carbon predicated that when the policies are implemented in April 2015, the demand for activated carbon might double. Calgon Carbon products are distributed by Brenntag Canada in Canada, and in September 2013 they signed a near $30 million contract for Calgon Carbon's FLUEPAC product, which is a powdered activated carbon that can filter mercury.
As of February 2014 the company sold 50 million pounds of GAC annually to municipalities to be used for treatment of drinking water. Continuing to branch into Asia, that month the company signed a contract with DaeWoo Engineering and Construction to supply 5.6 million pounds of GAC to a drinking water plant that provides water for about 600,000 residents in Seoul, South Korea. Also at that time the company signed a 10-year contract to treat drinking water for the Palmdale Water District in California, which serves around 115,000 people.
In late 2012 the stock was around $12 a share, before hovering around $20 in 2014. The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed tariffs in November 2014 on activated carbon imports from China, doubling the average import tax. Calgon Carbon announced it would be affected by fluctuating market prices. In February 2015 the company announced a 10% increase in fourth quarter profits, citing an increased demand for activated carbon for mercury removal and industrial water treatment. After the announcement, shares rose 7%.
As of 2015 Calgon Carbon operates fifteen facilities for manufacturing, reactivation, and equipment in the US, Asia, and Europe, and employs around 1,100 people. The European branch Chemviron Carbon continues to be headquartered in Belgium and has production and sales facilities in Europe. In early 2015 the company moved their headquarters from the Pittsburgh suburb of Robinson to nearby Moon Township. The new building combined the main research laboratory and corporate staff, which had previously been in separate facilities.
Calgon Carbon manufacturers and markets a number of filtration products using either activated carbon, UV light technology, or ion exchange technology. There are products for the purification of air, drinking water, wastewater, foods and beverages, and pharmaceuticals, as well as odor control and "pollution abatement." Other products treat or purify landfill leachate, sweeteners, glycerin, and cigarette smoke.
The company also provides granular activated carbon and activated carbon cloth for the production of respirators and "personal protection apparel," and powdered activated carbon for energy storage products such as batteries and what it calls "ultra capacitors." Various forms of carbon are used for residential water filtration, pond and aquarium cleaning, and removal of impurities during the manufacturing process of vitamins. The company also serves "industrial processes" applications such as liquid chemicals, catalyst support, gas and water processing, ultrapure water, and bio-based chemicals.
Activated carbon, which is a small form of carbon with a large pore structure that can remove impurities, was one of the first products produced by the company in the 1940s. Initially manufacturing granular activated carbon (GAC), the company also began producing forms such as powdered, pellets, and later cloth. Pittsburgh Coke and Chemical introduced an early activated carbon system to decolorize sugar in 1955, and in the 1960s the company began using GAC for removing tastes and odors.
As of 2015 Calgon Carbon sells over 100 product types that use activated carbon, for what the company claims are for "700 distinct applications," including the removal of mercury emissions, air treatment in industrial contexts, purifying soda ash and food liquids like high-fructose corn syrup, removing color and odor, and industrial processes for the chemical and petroleum refining industries. Carbon cloth is used for medical purposes including wound care, various defense applications, and diverse industrial products. Activated carbon can be used in respirators and aids in metal recovery in the mining industry. The company began selling FLUEPAC carbon in 2007, which is powdered activated carbon for filtering the mercury "in flue gas streams from coal-fired electric power plants." In 2014 the company began branching into the ultra-capacitor market, using activated carbon in electric storage cells for hybrid vehicles.
For large municipalities and manufacturing industries that want to reuse their activated carbon, Calgon Carbon has a service wherein they collect used or spent activated carbon (where its adsorptive capacity has been exhausted). The activated carbon is sent to one of Calgon Carbon's facilities and placed in a furnace to burn off and destroy impurities and other adsorbed organic compounds, then recycled back to the customer for continued use.
The company became involved with UV light technology in water treatment in the 1990s, coming out with a UV oxidation process to remediate groundwater in 1990. A product marketed as Sentinel UV Disinfection System was released in 1998, with UV being used as a disinfectant in drinking water by inactivating pathogens such as Cryptosporidium. The UV C3 product series for wastewater was later released, as well as a product line called Rayox Treatment System for process water and groundwater. Since 2010 they have also sold products by Hyde Marine, Inc. that use filtration followed by UV disinfection to treat ballast water in ships.
In 1998 Calgon Carbon came out with their Ion Separator (ISEP) product line, which uses a continuous ion exchange system to remove perchlorate from water sources, including municipal water. Since then the company has manufactured ion exchange products for applications such as the recovery of precious metals, removal of inorganic compounds like nitrate, food processing, and the purification of amino acids.