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Olivia company markets product to clear the air in confinement facilities

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 02/19/2013 6:54 PM

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MINNEAPOLIS — An Olivia company with a product to reduce dust in the air of livestock barns was among the 159 vendors at the Minnesota Pork Congress trade show.

Baumgartner Environics is marketing EPI Air, which uses electrostatic particle ionization to clear the air in confinement facilities. The system is certified for a 50 percent dust reduction in the Netherlands, said Russ Lesniak, one of five employees of Baumgartner Environics.

John Baumgartner started the business in 1989 as an environmental consulting company. Since then, it has become an environmental products company, focusing on the development of products that address environmental issues in confinement barns.

They have built containment systems, lagoon covers, a bio-curtain and most recently introduced the EPI Air System.

"Wherever there's a problem, there's a reason to try to solve it," said Matt Baumgartner, John's son and general manager of Baumgartner Environics.

Electrostatic Particulate Ionization is a patented air-cleaning system, Baumgartner said. In their demonstration tent at Pork Congress, a stainless steel cable was stretched across the length of the interior. Baumgartner handed guests a grounded strap to hang onto and flipped a switch. Immediately, the atmosphere changed, with guests feeling an invisible force from above.

EPI creates a negatively charged airspace, Baumgartner explained. Everything floating in the barn air is polarized by the negative ions and each partcile is drawn to a grounded surface.

Animals in the building don't get shocks because they are in contact with the floor, which is grounded. Likewise, anything else on the concrete, feeders and waterers for example, are also grounded.

The technology isn't new, ionization has been around for a century, Baumgartner said. It's the same technology used in smokestack scrubbers at coal-fired power plants, but this application is new.

They have been marketing EPI since 2011, after gathering results from a yearlong trial in Utah. Their equipment was installed in two, 2,000 head nurseries owned by Murphy-Brown, LLC., the world's largest pork producer, and tested against two control nurseries, also owned by Murphy-Brown.

The study, which was done from April 2009 to April 2010, found a 12.2 percent increase in average daily gain and a 26 percent decrease in moralities, Lesniak said.

During that time, there were five turns in the barn and 44,000 hogs went through.

Samples were also sent to Iowa State University to compare the air in the barns in the test. The barns with EPI Air had a significant reduction in particulate matter, 55 percent less ammonia, 59 percent less hydrogen sulfide and 19 percent less odor.

Murphy-Brown is installing EPI Air in all of pork spaces west of the Mississippi River, Baumgartner said. That's 864,000 wean-to-finish spaces and 655,000 nursery spaces.

EPI Air has installed systems in Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, China, Chile and the United States. Most are hog barns, but they are also in broiler facilities in the Netherlands.

They are seeking distributors and installers so they can focus on manufacturing and developing new products.

To find out more about EPI Air, go to their website, www.epiair.com.