Decarbonizing chemicals synthesis using a low-cost distributed platform.
Methane emissions account for 20% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) globally and stem primarily from waste. Municipal solid waste from cities, waste biomass from agriculture and wasteful industrial practices, especially in the energy sector, generate substantial amounts of methane gas. This methane gas is either released or flared, because there is no economically attractive way to transport it to market.
Emmanuel Kasseris and Leslie Bromberg, the founders of Emvolon, see this gas as a stranded but extremely valuable resource. There is potential to turn methane gas that today is routinely released into the atmosphere or flared, into useful, in-demand liquid chemicals like green methanol and green ammonia that can be easily transported to market. Emvolon is pioneering a portable system built using inexpensive and ubiquitous automotive engines to do such conversion onsite, eliminating transportation logistics and associated costs. Using mass produced engines as mini chemical plants, Emvolon can achieve orders of magnitude cost reduction for small scale chemical manufacturing.
This platform technology can also be used to convert green hydrogen produced from renewable energy into ammonia on-site. Both green methanol and green ammonia play a critical role in decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors, such as marine and aviation transportation, as well as fertilizers. Emvolon’s technology solves two important problems at once. It eliminates methane emissions in agriculture, waste management and energy, while also offering a cost-effective green fuel for hard-to-decarbonize maritime and aviation.
Kasseris and Bromberg envision a world in which stranded resources are no longer wasted while hard-to-abate sectors can operate sustainably using green fuels. One that efficiently and effectively harnesses every component of industrial processes to provide communities with necessary raw materials, without the need for massive refineries and chemical plants. Such a future would have a smaller carbon footprint while simultaneously enabling the on-demand and distributed production of chemicals.
“We’re building on 100 years of engineering to deliver modular, customizable performance,” Kasseris notes. “By leveraging economies of mass production, we will enable distributed chemical manufacturing when and where it is needed most.”
Emvolon was born from Leslie Bromberg’s work at MIT. Bromberg holds a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and has held various lead research roles in academia and the private sector for 40 years. A serial inventor, he also holds over 50 patents, many of which he has successfully commercialized.
Kasseris met Bromberg when he was working towards his own PhD at the MIT Mechanical Engineering department. But it wasn’t until Kasseris had spent several years leading research, development, and commercialization efforts for energy technologies at Chevron and ConocoPhilips as well as in academia, that he reconnected with Bromberg to formally pursue Emvolon.
During his career in the energy industry, Kasseris saw the problems and challenges with methane emissions first hand. He also realized that if he were to make meaningful change in the industry, he’d have to do it from the outside, where teams could experiment and innovate at a pace fast enough to make a difference.
“Our mission is simple,” says Kasseris, “We will help global communities give new life to stranded resources that would otherwise be wasted. Whether they use these resources to produce power, fertilizers, or other chemicals, the impact is huge — less waste and the ability to make their own power, their own fertilizers, and their own chemicals without the need for massive infrastructure required for the conventional approaches.”