Monday, December 15th, 2014
The New Economy speaks to Ener-Core about its groundbreaking technology in the field of climate change
Climate change is becoming an increasing environmental concern, with pressure continuously being put on countries to rein in their emissions. But with demand for energy rising globally, what can be done? The New Economy speaks to Alain Castro and Michael Hammons – CEO and Chairman, respectively, of Ener-Core – to find out about a groundbreaking technology that might just have the solution.
The New Economy: Alain: converting air pollution into clean energy, that’s the basis of Ener-Core. So in brief, what’s the process?
Alain Castro: Many of our process industries around the world – oil, coal, plastics, steel, the list goes on – emit a lot of waste gases. And they’re waste gases because there has not been a technology that can utilise them in any way. So we’re literally burning these fuels that could otherwise be a viable source of energy.
What happens to these gases when they go into the atmosphere, is that over 10 to 20 years, they oxidise. They react with air. But in that time, they behave as a greenhouse gas.
Our groundbreaking technology has found a way to supercharge Mother Nature, and do what mother nature does in 2-3 seconds.
By doing that, we destroy all the contaminants that would otherwise go into the atmosphere, and we generate a baseload clean energy.
|The New Economy: And what’s the need for methane regulations, and how will this impact the industry? Alain Castro: There’s no denying that methane emissions is becoming a bigger and bigger topic. As it should. In the US for example, methane emissions represent about nine percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, and methane as a gas is about 80 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.|
So, we see regulations already in place. We see them increasing. We just want to be the tool that gives industry a way of dealing with it.
Michael J Hammons: Dave Johnson, who’s the former EPA administrator, sits on our advisory board. He gives us a lot of insights into not only what his stance is, and what he pushed within the EPA over the last couple of decades while he was there, but also where things are going within governments.
And what’s clear is that there is increasing pressure on governments and environmental groups to reduce methane gas.
One of the things that we focus on is to make sure that we have a profitable solution; so we don’t necessarily get wrapped into the whole regulatory discussion, because it’s profitable in and of itself. But at the same time it does fix the regulatory issue that these companies are having.
The New Economy: What obstacles do you face? As your technology really does sound like the solution to one of the world’s worst pollution problems; so why aren’t more companies using it?
Michael J Hammons: Our customers are basically the heavy industry customers that are dealing with the very costly issue of emissions regulations and other things to that effect.
These companies are very conservative in their buying habits; particularly when it comes to power generation equipment. Because power and the use of energy is a critical component to their operations, traditionally.
Alain Castro: Many of the obstacles on other forms of clean energy are the lack of incentives or subsidies; one of the wonderful things about what we’ve done here is, we don’t need subsidies. Our technology makes financial sense in absence of that.
The New Economy: And Michael, what’s the potential market for your technology?
Michael J Hammons: Well, if you think about all of the waste gas and low BTU gas sources – landfills, coal mines, chemical facilities, industrial plants, oil and gas fields – it’s a tremendously large market. In Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and so on, where there’s a large rise in demand for energy, the market becomes very, very enormous.
That means powering approximately 65-80 million homes.
The New Economy: And how do you see the energy industry developing?
Michael J Hammons: You have a larger percentage of renewables that are making up the energy supply side. And that means that, you know, some of the cutting edge technologies have to be integrated into the grid to support this.
Alain Castro: Distributed generation. It’s also called decentralised power. It’s nothing more than going away from massive power plants and going towards smaller power plants near the townships and cities where the energy is consumed.
That’s a theme that’s happening, and solar energy and other forms of renewable energy are following.
|Alain Castro: You know, when companies are flaring these waste gases, they’re figuratively burning money. We’ve estimated that if you take all the gases that are being flared around the world that are documented, about 65,000 MW of power could be generated if you could use these gases being burned.|
So, we are that necessary component of baseload power.
The New Economy: And what’s your go-to-market strategy?
Alain Castro: We partner with multinational manufacturers of gas turbines. By partnering with them and coupling our technology with their gas turbines, we enable their gas turbines to operate on fuel sources that they couldn’t operate on with standard combustion technology.
The gas turbine companies are now enabled access to a market that has never existed with their standard technology. And the customer also wins, because customers are always going to understandably prefer to buy power equipment from companies with established brands, with multinational networks of support offices, and with significant financial balance sheets.
The New Economy: And who are your customers?
Alain Castro: Any industry that’s emitting waste gases is a candidate customer for us. Ethanol plants and distilleries, oil and gas refineries, oil and gas drilling fields, chemicals and plastics plants, food processing plants, coal mines; these are all industries that emit gases, and they can now generate power from these gases, while at the same time being more environmentally responsible.
The New Economy: And finally, how does your technology fit in with the rise in renewables?
Alain Castro: Society as a whole looks for more and more sources of energy that don’t contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. We fit nicely into that.
Renewable energy is emitting clean energy, but it’s not preventing the emissions of gases from traditional industries. What we’re doing is both.
The New Economy: Michael, Alain, thank you.
Michael, Alain: Thank you.