Envirofit International is a nonprofit that develops technology that reduces pollution and enhances energy efficiency in developing countries, particularly in Asia. Envirofit hopes that its endeavors will "promote environmental benefits, improve public health, foster economic growth, and alleviate poverty throughout its areas of operation."
Envirofit's current focus is on engine retrofitting, which helps reduce the highly pollutant tailpipe emissions from the 2-stroke engines which are very prominent in developing nations. In the Philippines alone, for example, there are over a million 2-stroke tricycle taxis currently in use. The "EnviroKit” retrofit kit enables a cleaner, direct-injection alternative that can improve air quality by reducing hydrocarbon emissions by 90%, carbon monoxide emissions by 70%, and particulate emissions (smoke) by 80%.Though the kit currently costs $250-$275 US, Envirofit pays for itself in one year thanks to an improved fuel economy of 30%! Replacing a two-stroke tricycle taxi's engine with a new four-stroke one would cost 5 times as much, at approximately $1,500. Not to mention that the environmental benefits would be dramatically reduced, both because a retrofitted 2-stroke runs more cleanly and efficiently than a 4-stroke, and because the discarded 2-stroke engines would then likely end up being reused in another nearby area.
This is all, of course, in addition to the potential reduction in health care costs, as particulate emissions are a key cause of illness in the developing world, especially in children and the elderly. In fact, it is estimated that in Asia alone, the sub-par air quality which often is seen as a toxic brown cloud, causes hundreds of thousands of deaths every year from respiratory disease.
Envirofit is currently focusing on the Philippines and recently announced its formal agreement with the City of Vigan to retrofit their entire fleet of approximately 3,000 tricycle taxis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year 2000 premature deaths are a direct effect of particulate emissions in the Philippines, and the nation spends over $430 million yearly in related health care costs.
Vigan's environment will benefit greatly from Envirofit's engine retrofitting. Preliminary studies indicate that the venture will reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide by 3,000 tons each year, in addition to dramatic savings in gasoline and oil usage, and the reduction of noise level, as well as economic benefits.
|Brock Silvers, CEO of Envirofit |
MY HERO caught up with Brock Silvers,
Chief Executive Officer of Envirofit International, at the 2005 Tech Museum Awards where Envirofit was being honored as an Intel Environment Award Laureate for its use of technology to "make the world safer and healthier, more prosperous and just."
Please tell us a little bit about Envirofit...
Envirofit is building a 2-stroke engine retrofit business in Asia. There are about 50 million 2-stroke engines currently in use in Asia, and these are very inefficient, and environmentally harmful engines. We have a kit that converts these engines to direct injection which lowers emissions from 70-90% depending upon which type of emission we are talking about. It increases fuel efficiency by roughly 30% according to our own field testing data, and it also slightly increases the horsepower of the unit. That certainly makes end-users around Asia relatively receptive to our conversion process. We hope that at a reasonably low price point, we can be able to retrofit engines throughout Asia.
How does the conversion process work?
We basically replace the carburetor with an injector. We also have a new cast head that we put on the unit as well. It's fairly simple, but it also renders the unit significantly cleaner and much more efficient.
Where is Envirofit currently being implemented?
We are currently doing a major project in the northern Philippines, in the City of Vigan, where we hope to do the city's entire fleet of 3,000 tricyle taxi units, all of which are run by carbureted 2-stroke engines, and convert them to direct injection. Because there are no other significant sources of air pollution, or significant emission sources in the City of Vigan, after that project we'll have a very good understanding of the specific impact that carbureted 2-strokes and our own retrofit kits have on the environment.
Who's your hero?
I have lots of heroes. I think having heroes is a good thing. My father is certainly a hero of mine; I think people should have heroes in all areas of their lives. Politically, I would say that Ronald Reagan is a hero of mine, and athletically of course, Michael Jordan.