The Competitive Edge: SynTech Bioenergy, Inc.

April 25, 2019 |

Q: What was the reason for founding your organization – what was the open niche you saw that could be addressed with a new product or service? What was the problem, or gap, or opportunity?

I founded SynTech Bioenergy based on my belief in the potential of bioenergy to make a significant dent in the global environmental crisis. I have spent more than a decade in the field of renewable energy, focused on finding solutions for converting biomass and other problematic global waste streams into carbon-negative clean energy. Seeing the positive impact we can make on global warming and climate change has only fueled my passion. There really is no need for us to continue burning and burying waste or even just allowing it to rot on the forest/orchard floor or farm field. Technologies exist today which can solve multiple energy, environmental, economic, social and political problems through the advanced thermal conversion of biomass, municipal solid waste and other waste streams to sustainable, clean, carbon-negative energy. This energy takes the form of power, heat, advanced drop-in liquid fuels which need neither blending nor engine modifications, and low carbon products made from or enhanced by the high-quality biochar produced in this process.

Q: Tell us about your organization. What do you do?

We’re achieving carbon-negative clean energy goals through our BioMax® technology, a small footprint but imminently scalable platform. BioMax® uses a patented advanced thermal conversion process to convert wastes like biomass, processed municipal solid waste (MSW) and even waste water treatment sludge into an ultra-clean tar-free syngas. From this syngas, we produce power, heat and “SynChar®,” a high-quality biochar which can be used as a soil amendment or organic fertilizer. Our SynChar meets specs for activated carbon for use in air and water filtration applications, and can be refined or processed into other valuable products including various grades of carbon black, graphite and potentially even graphene.

Q: What stage of development are you?

BioMax® is fully commercial with over 105,000 operating hours in full commercial setting providing power and heat to customers from the wastes they generate on their sites. Our first plant is now operating in Japan, we have several other projects in process now with executed interconnection agreements in CA and have just executed an agreement for our first project in HI.

Q: What do your technologies, products or services do and accomplish – how does it (they) work, who is it (they) aimed for?

BioMax® has a proven track record of remediating many different types of biomass by converting it to carbon-negative, clean energy in the form of power, heat and biochar. Chief among these are a range of nut types including walnut, almond, pecan, pistachio, macadamia and coconut; as well as fruit pits including olive, prune, peach, nectarine and avocado. Wood wastes are also excellent feedstocks whether chipped or pelletized as is bamboo. Each of these wastes are converted to clean energy through a rigidly controlled proprietary thermochemical process. which allows us to create an ultra-clean tar free syngas right in the reactor with no need of downstream dry, chemical or other gas cleaning process and without the need for any water in or to be produced by the process. Our target customers are driven by either—or both—the need to find an environmentally and economically sound way to remediate their process produced wastes and/or a way to lower their energy costs. They also seek energy security, to take advantage of the competitive market and leverage the public perception benefits of becoming carbon-negative in their operations.

One such site is Dixon Ridge Farms, an organic walnut farm and processing operation. Dixon Ridge is a two-time recipient of California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) for its leadership in sustainable management. Their sustainability strategy is centered on the use of BioMax® technology to turn walnut shells into renewable heat and power. In 2008, they set a goal to be fully energy self-sufficient through increased renewable energy production.

Dixon Ridge Farms has exceeded this goal and now operates two BioMax® systems producing upwards of 250 kWe of continuous and uninterrupted carbon-negative, clean energy on site—right where the waste is produced and the power and heat are needed—while, at the same time diverting three million pounds of waste walnut shells annually. Working with the University of California, Davis, Dixon Ridge determined that their entire operation of 1,400 acres and walnut processing is greenhouse gas and carbon negative, producing about half of the emissions of comparable organic farm systems.

Q: Competitively, what gives your technology, product or service set an edge in cost or performance, sustainability, or any other aspect, that makes it stand out from the crowd? In short, what makes it transformative?

Our proprietary BioMax® technology is a commercially proven power generation solution capable of delivering highly reliable, uninterrupted power from a wide range of biomass feedstocks, as well as processed MSW and biosolids, in a highly scalable yet compact footprint. With more than 100,000 commercial operating hours globally, a single BioMax® modular biopower system can displace up to 8,608 metric tons of environmental carbon per year.

Bioenergy technologies have enormous potential to provide clean, carbon-negative energy at the facility level, right where the waste is created and the power and heat are needed or at the community level: essentially, wherever it makes the most sense and can be implemented quickly, at lower cost and connected to the needs of consumers. This technology can operate on-grid, off-grid or as a micro-grid. Use of bioenergy will help put an end to burning or landfilling wastes, particularly biomass, green and organic wastes and, in the process, keep millions of tons of carbon out of our environment every year. It will also create jobs all up and down the employment value stream; not just in the communities where they are located, but also in the communities where they are manufactured, from clerical and labor all the way up to science, technology and communications.

Perhaps most importantly, the new bioenergy technology, the tech whose adoption is building and whose future is bright, is carbon-negative in operation. This means taking carbon out of the environment—water isn’t used, so no contribution to the depletion of clean water supplies. No water is produced to be cleaned up or disposed of. This technology is already helping to relieve the pressure and reliance on vanishing fossil fuel resources.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you have accomplished in the past 3 years?

  1. We have executed an agreement to develop 4 large (3MWe) projects for a single fund in CA, three of which already have executed interconnection agreements and the first of which just received its PPA on April 16th.
  2. SynTech has recently commenced operation of its first facility in Japan which now operates alternately on wood chips and bamboo chips as part of a Japanese Distributorship JV in Tokyo, Japan under the name SynTech Japan Co, LTD which is now the exclusive distributor of BioMax® units in Japan and which already has several additional projects in various stages of permitting.
  3. We have also just executed an agreement for the first of several project in HI with a west coast-based customer which will serve as our local sales and marketing partner in a segment of the HI energy market in which they already have a substantial market presence.

Q: What are 3 milestones you will accomplish in the next 3 years?

  1. Completing the 103 projects now pending in our pipeline and continuing to grow that pipeline;
  2. Continuing to enhance the output of our product by both continuous improvement and fostering a rather robust future product roadmap and technology horizon;
  3. Opening substantial additional markets by driving down the cost of our technologies through the benefits of efficiency of scale in manufacturing and procurement (not to mention lean manufacturing) in order to open more market including the rest of the US, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, India, China and elsewhere and, in so doing, having an even more prolific positive contribution to reversal of the harmful effects of climate change;

 

  1. Where can I learn more about SynTech Bioenergy?

 

Click here to visit SynTech Bioenergy’s website.

Wayne McFarland is Chairman and CEO of SynTech Bioenergy, LLC. An attorney and successful serial entrepreneur, Wayne founded SynTech Bioenergy to identify, incubate, accelerate, develop and commercialize the world’s most advanced thermochemical conversion processes and end-of-waste solutions.

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