Radiant Energy Corp. announced an agreement with Continental Airlines Tuesday to install the Orchard Park-based company's de-icing system at Newark International Airport.
The deal is a big step forward in the small local company's effort to market its InfraTek de-icing system, which uses infrared heaters to melt ice, rather than conventional systems that rely on glycol sprays.
It is Radiant Energy's first deal to install its system at a major airport and its first contract with a major U.S. airline.
"We now have a major hub at a major airport. This validates the whole product," said Colin Digout, chief operating officer of Radiant Energy.
Radiant Energy designs and develops the de-icing system and the components are manufactured by other companies. Radiant has eight employees, but hopes to grow to about 40.
Boeing Capital Corp. will finance the construction and installation of the $3.5 million de-icing center, which melts the ice on airplane parts. The Orchard Park company will own the center, which will be operated by Continental.
Continental will sell the de-icing service to other airlines flying some of the 650 daily flights in and out of Newark and split revenues with Radiant.
"This provides strong affirmation of the economic and environmental advantages of our InfraTek De-icing System, and marks a major milestone in the growth and development of our company. We estimate that approximately 1,500 airports worldwide could benefit from integrating InfraTek into their deicing operations," Digout said.
The environmentally friendly de-icing system is already operating at Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport in Wisconsin. Radiant has a partnership with Lufthansa to promote the system in Europe.
Executives of Boeing Capital, which owns about 20 percent of Radiant's stock, said they view the system as one of the decade's most important airline industry advances.
"The potential savings in time and dollars in the de-icing process, as well as the potential to reduce capital expenditures on containment and recovery systems which accompany the glycol deicing process, all speak loudly for embracing the Infratek Radiant Energy Deicing System," said Boeing Capital President Thomas J. Motherway.
Because the InfraTek system uses infrared heaters to melt snow and ice, it allows airports to avoid the use of the conventional liquid glycol sprays that can seep into ground water and contaminate the environment.
Consequently, many airports are facing the prospect of spending millions of dollars to install containment systems for the glycol used during the de-icing process.
Radiant Energy believes its InfraTek system can de-ice planes faster than chemical systems and for a fraction of the cost.
The system also can produce considerable savings by allowing airports to install chemical containment systems that are far less extensive than those required by de-icing methods that rely solely on glycol-based chemicals.