Monday, January 19, 2009

The Better Shredder

Shredding documents is all in a day’s work at many companies. It’s a way of protecting sensitive information. Whether it’s working designs or customer lists, if it’s on paper, security rules call for the paper to be physically destroyed before it leaves the site.

But what if you could attach a miniature gasification plant to the shredder, so that the shredded paper gets turned into a kind of natural gas, which then can be used as a power source? You would make sure the documents were really destroyed, and generate heat or electricity at the same time. That’s the idea behind the mobile gasification units now being offered by IST Energy.

By shrinking a gasification plant to make it fit in a trailer, they can install it at a building site. According to IST Energy, the process is so efficient that the million-dollar unit can pay for itself in less than five years processing ordinary office trash. That’s if you feed in three tons of trash a day, the maximum amount the unit can process, and easily within the range of paper trash coming from a corporate office building. Part of the benefit is eliminating (or reducing by 95 percent) the need to haul trash away.

Businesses will, of course, be skeptical of the financial claims, and not every business will be able to spare the three parking spaces the unit takes up. Yet businesses that need to shred tons of documents anyway may be the first to give the idea a try. They’ll get the sensitive documents not just shredded, but gasified, onsite, leaving not the slightest chance that anyone might try to put the paper shreds back together. For some companies, that will be reason enough to give an on-site gasification plant a try.