RCT Interview with Anellotech CEOs

Supporters say the company is brining rateables and high-tech jobs to Rockland

BY KATHY KAHN

Dr Charles Sorensen, PhD, vice president/research & development and David Sudolsky, president/CEO and co-founder of Anellotech with model of proposed research/development building planned for Pfizer’s Pearl River campus.
Dr Charles Sorensen, PhD, vice president/research & development and David Sudolsky, president/CEO and co-founder of Anellotech with model of proposed research/development building planned for Pfizer’s Pearl River campus.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize Rockland, like the rest of the world’s communities, relies on gasoline to get from Point A to Point B.  What most don’t realize is that everyday items—from eyeglasses to clothing—also rely on petroleum as an integral ingredient in the production of those essentials.

Two researchers- David Sudolsky and George Huber–  teamed up in Recession-torn 2008 and founded Anellotech, with a view towards finding an innovative way to take petroleum out of the equation when creating benzene, toluene and xylene by using eco-friendly materials, eliminating the need for petrol in the production process.  Sounds environmentally friendly—right?

Some of Anellotech’s Orangetown neighbors don’t think so. They have voraciously  voiced a variety of concerns  that Anellotech and the research/development building it proposes to build next to its office will contaminate the air, pollute the water and degrade the quality of life of residents living near Pfizer in Pearl River, Anellotech’s  new home.

The proposed R&D building (not nearly as tall as some of the structures standing nearby on the 500-plus acre campus­) has a footprint the size of an average bi-level home. The notion the company will do more than just conduct research has many of the Anellotech’s new neighbors in an uproar.

Although the company’s plans have been scrutinized by both New York State’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, it just doesn’t pass muster with the proposal’s naysayers.

While in the process of using nature’s waste—primarily wood chips– the chemicals Anellotech produces in its research will give off a minimal amount of carbon dioxide, that will be further cleansed before released into the air by a catalytic converter—similar to the one on today’s cars.

“The emission from our proposed R&D facility will be approximately what five cars running 24/7 give off on a single day,” said Sudolsky, going through a catalytic converter before released into the atmosphere 85 feet above ground level. “If you look at the Facebook page this group of anti-Anellotech members has created, all you see is  black clouds  of smoke…it certainly paints a picture that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

New York’s Mid-Hudson Economic Development Council apparently liked what Anellotech is bringing the region by awarding Anellotech $750,000 towards construction costs to build its new research and development facility.

Sudolsky said after construction is completed, he expects the plant will be in continuous operation for 18-36 months, then used periodically thereafter.  “Any notion that we are building a production plant is totally false,” he said. “We will have the equivalent of six barrels of chemicals on site….much less than the average delivery truck carries to the gas station…and certainly no threat to the community or the environment.”

Anellotech currently has 23 employees and plans to add 20 more when the new building is completed. “Pfizer’s campus is the perfect setting for what we are accomplishing,” said Sudolsky. “We’re going to create high-paying engineering jobs and hopefully, we’ll see more companies coming on board to this location.”  There’s little doubt more R&D companies would help boost the number of high-skilled, high-paying  jobs the region lost when Pfizer relocated or eliminated thousands of positions during its restructuring.

Sudolsky says he’s heartened by the support he’s gotten from the business community and from some of the company’s former critics. “In retrospect, perhaps we should have gone out and made people more comfortable and knowledgeable about our plans….we did not realize the extent of the negativity an R&D company would create. Hopefully, people will realize we are serious about our dedication  to reducing the country’s reliance on petroleum. Our goal is to help clean up the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions—not add to them.”

Still wondering what Anellotech’s “deal” is?  You can find everything you ever wanted to know about the new company that has chosen Rockland as its home by visiting its website, www.anellotech.com or Googling the company’s R&D innovations to understand what its founders seek to accomplish.

 

1)      One catalytic oxidizer (not two – as discussed)