Flaring is the wasteful practice of burning natural gas, produced from oil wells that can not be economically taken to market. An estimated 150 billion cubic meters per year are flared into the air, equivalent to 275 million metric tons of CO2.
Enter Emvolon, an MIT spinoff tech startup that is transforming diesel engines from conventional vehicles into mini chemical plants to utilize otherwise wasted resources like flare gas and residue biomass. Emvolon’s platform can negate 90% of the CO2 emissions that natural gas flares emit every year, and sell valuable products into large global chemicals markets.
Today, Emvolon announced it has raised a $1.5 million seed investment led by The Engine, an MIT venture capital firm that backs founders solving the world’s biggest problems through the convergence of breakthrough science, engineering, and leadership.
The funding proceeds will be used to build out its team and creating a dedicated laboratory space for the development of its platform that converts the wasted natural gas at flare sites into usable chemicals like methanol for use in a broad array of industrial applications or as a fuel.
Founded a few months ago by Emmanuel Kasseris and Leslie Bromberg, Emvolon is developing a platform for distributed chemical production from resources that otherwise would be wasted. The founders are pioneering a device built using inexpensive and ubiquitous components from established supply chains for the automotive industry to do such conversion at the site of the flares.
The same device can be used to convert other stranded resources like biomass, which would otherwise rot in fields or forests, or biogas into a variety of useful chemicals. It can also be applied to distributed ammonia manufacturing, providing chemical energy storage for communities without reliable grid connections.
“This wasted gas is a stranded resource,” said Emmanuel Kasseris, Emvolon’s co-founder and CEO. “At Emvolon we are reimagining mass-produced automotive internal combustion engines as miniature chemical processing plants that can efficiently and effectively provide communities the raw materials they need, without building massive refineries and chemical plants. The process enables economically attractive small plants by exchanging economies of mass production for economies of scale.”
Launched out of MIT, the company plans to use the capital to expand its engineering and business development staff. The team expansion will help continue to scale Emvolon’s technology as a key enabler of a low-carbon future.
“Emmanuel and Leslie enable us to imagine a world with a much more efficient utilization of natural resources,” said Michael Kearney, Principal of The Engine. “Emvolon promises a future with a much smaller carbon footprint for our most difficult to decarbonize sectors while simultaneously enabling cost-effective, on-demand, and distributed chemical production.”
The Engine, launched by MIT, is a Cambridge, MA-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage Tough Tech companies solving the world’s biggest problems through the convergence of breakthrough science, engineering, and leadership. It provides the capital, knowledge, connections, as well as specialized equipment, space, and labs these transformative startups need to thrive.