HONG KONG, Nov. 12, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Highway Holdings Limited (Nasdaq:HIHO) today announced it has formed a joint venture with ACI Group GmbH, based in Zimmern, Germany, to manufacture and market in Asia a series of proprietary CO 2 snow-jet cleaning systems for industrial and commercial cleaning applications.
The newly formed Hong Kong-based joint venture is named "Advanced Cleaning Innovation Asia" (ACIA) and will initially utilize Highway Holdings' facilities in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China for its operations. Highway Holdings owns a 51 percent interest in the joint venture, and ACI Group owns the remaining 49 percent. Highway will provide manufacturing and assembly facilities for the production of the cleaning systems. ACI Group will provide the technology (including the rights to the patented nozzle), technical support and training. ACIA will market the products in Asia.
The CO 2 snow-jet cleaning is an existing technology that utilizes pressurized carbon dioxide to clean industrial equipment in a non-destructive, non-abrasive and environmentally friendly manner. The pressurized CO 2 used in the cleaning process is derived from the atmosphere, as well as from industrial processes as a by-product, representing environmental friendly sourcing. The technology is capable of removing a variety of contaminants, such as oil, grease, dirt and flux, by blasting the surface without leaving a residue. Cleaning applications include preparation before welding and gluing of materials and preparation before painting and coating of components -- a process that is especially important for automotive and airline-related products. Additional applications of equal importance are to be found in the medical field and in the production of electronic appliances.The CO 2 snow-jet cleaning machine to be manufactured and sold by the new joint venture differs from other systems currently on the market because it utilizes a patented nozzle technology that was developed at the internationally recognized Fraunhofer Institute based in Germany in collaboration with the founders of the ACI Group. Fraunhofer Institute is the largest application-oriented research organization in Europe. ACI Group holds the exclusive right to this patented nozzle technology, which eliminates the negative "wet" condensation effect of other existing CO 2-based cleaning machines on the market. "Demand for such sophisticated and environmentally friendly cleaning equipment is expected to increase dramatically as a result of ongoing global concerns about chemical cleaning solvents and their affect on human health and the environment. Europe, during the last few years, for example, has adopted strict import regulations with regard to certain toxic cleaning chemicals and products treated with such chemicals. All importers into Europe must now comply with these regulations and certify compliance with these new standards. The CO 2 snow-jet cleaning technology represents an important alternative to toxic cleaning solvents," said Roland Kohl, president and chief executive officer of Highway Holdings. Kohl noted that CO 2 snow-jet cleaning is particularly effective for automation manufacturing processes, which complements Highway Holdings' and ACI Group's expertise. "Our company's more than twenty-year history in Asia and reputation for high-quality manufacturing were important considerations for our partners in the establishment of this joint venture. We look forward to leveraging our combined strengths to capitalize on the significant market opportunities," Kohl said.