11 Nov 2008
A Fresh Approach(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 11,2008)
Nanotechnology is helping Southwest Product Development Ltd develop in a world of uncertain economic stability.
The firm started out in simple houseware items. "We had marketed just about every tool and gadget a kitchen might need before finding a profitable niche with our now well-established and best-selling line of wine accessories and bar tools," says Director John Ma.
"Now, however, we have a new and quite different item in the form of an air- purifier that adopts a technology licensed solely to us," he adds, candidly revealing how a chance meeting with an old friend brought about a new possibility based on cooperation between Hong Kong's tertiary education sector and its manufacturing industry.
"The new product is an air purity pump, but it's not like an ionizer device that generates negative ions," he states. "Our unit works on proven scientific processes and purifies the air completely."
Revealing that the technology behind the item originated at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), he relates how, from about the time of the SARS epidemic, there has been growing interest in clean air, and purifying and maintaining the freshness of living and working spaces.
"RHT Ltd, a specialist in that field, worked in cooperation with HKUST to develop a new technology based on catalytic oxidation," he says. "We now hold the licence to bring that technology into the marketplace in the form of useful consumer goods for the home."
The technology employed is termed Nano-confined Catalytic Oxidation (NCCO) and has proved itself excellent in air deodorisation and sterilisation. Now internationally patented, it is claimed that devices implementing NCCO technology can improve the indoor air quality of common domestic and commercial environments, even the most undesirable environments such as smoking lounges, kitchens, and water treatment facilities, among others.
The unit comes with an easily changeable filter. "The filter is cleaned and reused by using NCCO technology. In practice, the filter lasts for years but we suggest changing it every few months under standard conditions," he says.
Mr Ma expresses total confidence in his firm's approach. "We are bringing out sturdier, more compact devices and offering a sharper look, more related to the demands of sophisticated consumers. Hotels, too, have expressed interest in our new products."
Today, there are prototypes in the form of two ball-shaped tabletop devices, but buyers can expect to see samples by the end of 2008. "We see a huge future in this item, and its variations, and we plan to have initial products coming off the lines shortly," Mr Ma promises.
"We are tremendously excited about the possibilities, especially given that this item has worldwide potential. We are also negotiating with RHT Ltd to determine what other products we might develop," Mr Ma says.
He expects Southwest to develop five or six new designs in 2009. "Once people begin to understand that existing technology does not really do the job, we anticipate a huge swing to our approach. I think we will take a large slice of the air-purifying market," Mr Ma asserts.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON