It’s Elementary: Calgon Carbon finds great chemistry with Randy Dearth

Randy Dearth is the President and CEO of Calgon Carbon Corporation.

Randy Dearth is the President and CEO of Calgon Carbon Corporation.

By Matt Pross, Staff Writer

Article originally published in Fall 2012 of Made in PA magazine

As the essential ingredient of all known life, carbon is quite literally everywhere. Not only does the element exist in every living thing, its novel properties allow carbon to be applied across pretty much every industry. Nowhere is the ubiquitous nature of carbon more appreciated than at Robinson-based Calgon Carbon Corporation. Beginning in 1942, when the local manufacturer began supplying activated carbon to the U.S. military for use in respirators during the Second World War, Calgon has grown into the world’s leading supplier of granular activated carbon by pioneering innovative purification systems for drinking water, wastewater, odor control, pollution abatement, and a variety of other manufacturing processes.

Employing about 1,100 people around the world at 15 different facilities, Calgon Carbon is a true global player in the rapidly growing global market for activated carbon. While the manufacturer has maintained steady, cumulative growth throughout its 70-year history, the future holds even greater potential for Calgon, as an increasing number of countries around the world move to establish and implement regulations aimed at making our environment cleaner and safer.

“There are more than 500 known applications of activated carbon, and Calgon Carbon is a leader in producing the carbons for these solutions,” Randy Dearth, President and CEO of Calgon Carbon Corporation, said. “People interact with these applications on a daily basis and aren’t even aware. For instance, the process of decolorizing sugar so that it is white uses activated carbon to achieve this result.

“Calgon Carbon is one of the world’s largest suppliers of activated carbon and is also heavily involved in the carbon reactivation process, where spent activated carbon is heated to high temperatures to remove the adsorbed organic chemicals so that it can be recycled and reused,” Dearth explained. “Reactivation is a growing trend because of the substantially smaller environmental footprint associated with this process when compared to using virgin activated carbon.”

Dearth is relatively new to the top position at Calgon, having just been named President and CEO in August 2012. Before joining Calgon, he served as President and CEO of the German chemical company LANXESS. While he’s only officially been on the job for a few months, Dearth has substantial experience with Calgon Carbon due to his participation on the company’s Board of Directors over the last four years. This background has allowed him to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact on Calgon Carbon’s global growth.“While Pittsburgh is our home, Calgon Carbon is truly a global company,” he said. “Right now, we are focusing a lot of our resources on developing emerging markets where activated and reactivated carbon is just beginning to make an impact. Growth in these areas is substantial as environmental regulations around the world are forcing companies and municipalities to use our products to improve the quality of water and air.”

Dearth singled out the markets where growth potential is the greatest, including: control of disinfection byproducts in municipal drinking water; global expansion of Calgon’s reactivation services, with a specific focus on growing Asian markets; mercury removal from power plant flue gas; and ballast water disinfection, which is the largest growth opportunity for Calgon Carbon.

“The ballast water treatment market is a really exciting area for us right now,” Dearth explained. “The growth in this market is being fueled by international regulations requiring disinfection of a ship’s ballast water to prevent the transfer of invasive species from one ecological system to another. By 2018, we estimate that this will be a $15 billion global market, as every new ship built will have to have a disinfection system, in addition to the 60,000 retrofits that will have to be made to comply with these regulations.”

Just recently, the company added 100 employees to support its growth in the ballast water treatment market. Look for Calgon Carbon to continue to take advantage of the ever-growing number of global applications for activated carbon and its innovative purification solutions.

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