By Anne Servidad, RIC Centre Communications Intern
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are on the rise and according to Canada’s Second Biennial Report on Climate Change, it will reach 768 megatonnes in 2020 and 815 megatonnes in 2030. These projections could mean failing the carbon gas emissions reduction target previously set by Harper government.
With Canada’s fervent commitment to sustainable and greener technology, businesses are now switching to renewable sources of energy. The government’s objective is to reach a 30% reduction by 2030, with an emission level of 524 megatonnes. One solution is renewable natural gas, commonly known as biogas, which is produced from the break-down of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas is typically found in municipal landfill sites, municipal wastewater treatment plants, and agricultural waste.
For chemical engineer Andrew White, what first started out as a causal tour around a renewable energy plant led to a eureka moment and the invention of SulfaCHAR™. After learning about the amount of waste generated by producing biogas and how costly these methods can be, he created a zero-waste solution in which the hydrogen sulfide from renewable gas would be filtered out and turned into fertilizer.
“The greatest asset of biogas is that it’s capturing methane that would otherwise be going into the atmosphere where it’s 22 times worse than carbon dioxide for global warming. But the same bacteria that make biogas also make hydrogen sulfide which is toxic, corrosive, and causes a lot of maintenance cost in the industry. So we really need to get it out of the gas so that gas can be used,” explains Andrew White, CEO of CHAR Technologies Inc., and RIC Centre Client.
Andrew’s revolutionary technology has gained him attention from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and the Canadian Gas Association (CGA) last year and was awarded a $750,000 grant for his dedication to launching his solution. After the recent SDTC/CGA announcement, CHAR also signed a letter of intent with CleanTech Capital Inc.—a capital pool corporation (CPC)committed to growing clean technology and renewable energy businesses, for the proposal of a combined business venture. As of March 2016, all decisions have been finalized stating that CHAR Technologies Inc. and CleanTech Capital Inc. are now joined together as CHAR Technologies Ltd. with the trading symbol YES on the TSX Venture Exchange.
“The merger helps us accomplish our mission of creating a cost effective, convenient and zero-waste method of capturing hydrogen sulfide and transforming it into fertilizer by providing us with a tremendously talented board of directors and providing access to additional financial resources through the public markets,” says White.
The joint venture between CHAR Technologies Inc. and CleanTech Capital Inc. also unlocks a condition for the SD Natural Gas fund (which is supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Canadian Gas Association) to be able to produce and sell SulfaCHAR™.
“It will bring CHAR Technologies into full commercial production, allowing us to rapidly penetrate the growing $2 billion renewable natural gas desulfurization market. SulfaCHAR, is a revolutionary new way to address the gas cleaning needs of renewable natural gas plants. It is the most cost competitive solution and is produced from a by-product feedstock, with an end-of-life agricultural application, unlike competing technologies whose end-of-life is more landfill,” says Andrew White.
CHAR Technologies Inc. has made significant progress and traction since its launch in 2011 with support from the RIC Centre. In 2012, CHAR was the RIC Centre Innovator Idol winner and was also one of the first graduates of the RIC Centre Incubator.
“Operating in an ecosystem with the business expertise offered by RIC staff and Entrepreneurs-in-Residence allows us to quickly address challenges and significantly reduce our time to market,” states White.
Going forward, CHAR Technologies will proceed with the SD Natural Gas fund project and will be looking to produce a 1 tonne per day SulfaCHAR™ production unit. CHAR also has a contract through Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) to bring their first client online through an anaerobic digestion and biogas plant, located outside of Chatham, Ontario in Ridgetown.
The future is bright and promising for CHAR Technologies Inc. as they continue on their journey of commercializing SulfaCHAR™. The RIC Centre congratulates them on their recent successes and continues to offer their unwavering support.