By: Kristie Robertson
EnviroDiamond Technologies Inc. (ETI) has developed, patented and tested Cold Detonation Physics (CDP) technology. CDP is a process where an environmentally friendly explosive, comprised of dry ice (frozen CO2) and other ingredients, is detonated. The carbonaceous byproduct of the reaction contains two commercially valuable, high-grade diamond products: nanodiamond (ND) and polycrystalline diamond (PCD).
Nanodiamond (ND) consists of fine diamond particles that can be used in a range of different applications including abrasives and cutting tools. ND can also be used in medical procedures. However, several commercial producers of ND detonate mixtures of trinitrotoluene (TNT) and Research Department explosive (RDX). This method generates toxic, carcinogenic effects and requires such extensive purification for medical use that the resulting price of the final product is greater than $50K/kg. On the other hand, the ND produced from ETI’s CDP process enables the easy production of medically safe ND for considerably less, all due to its non-toxic ingredients. ETI’s ND can also be mass-produced with the quality needed for finer abrasives and customized to have other specific desired properties.
“In my mind I saw a steady-state, energy-generating process that would create diamond as a by-product,” Daren Swanson, CEO and founder of EnviroDiamond Technologies Inc., explains his idea’s conception. After watching Davis Guggenheim’s 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, his wife had asked, “You’re a chemical engineer. Can’t you just pull the carbon out of carbon dioxide and stack it somehow?” Prompted by his wife’s question, Swanson perceived of an entirely different way to make energy that uses CO2 as a fuel source.
As any new or experienced entrepreneur knows, one of the struggles of taking a venture from idea to reality is gaining funding. “After attending a RIC event on pitches, I learned how incredibly thorough an accredited investor requires their potential clients to be before deciding to support them. I walked away from the experience committed to being that thorough. Not just in raising money, but in all the important nuances of running a company successfully,” Swanson says.
Recently, ETI has gained enough funding to continue with patenting, testing and product development. They have negotiated a non-disclosure agreement with the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC). ETI will also be conducting detonation tests at the Canmet Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (Natural Resources Canada) in Ottawa, Ontario early in 2015. These tests, combined with the ability to refine and analyze the resulting material at XRCC, will allow ETI to produce many kilograms of various types of products. Product samples will be forwarded to an existing network of potential customers who have already committed over $2 million in sales per year. While operating temporarily through a leased property, ETI also plans to build a facility where its orders will be fulfilled.
ETI has developed an important environmental technology that will work towards better world health. If CDP is used to replace traditional mining explosives for appropriate applications, it will offset harmful NOx emissions while consuming CO2. The ND produced by CDP also decontaminates air, soil and water, and can help clean up oil spills. When mixed with automobile engine oil, ND can even increase fuel economy by 20 percent. Last, but not least, CDP’s waste stream is an environmentally friendly de-icing agent, which, in contrast with the toxic waste produced by the TNT/RDX method, is something to be excited about.
ETI still faces many obstacles, such as optimizing the diamond yield and viably scaling the process up to meet customer demand, but Swanson and his team are moving ahead with confidence.
Be sure to check out their website at envirodiamond.net.