May 17, 2020

EnerTech, Lanza Tech and MBA Polymers Revolutionize Renew...

4 min
EnerTech, Lanza Tech and MBA Polymers Revolutionize Renewable Energy
EnerTech EnvironmentalThis renewable energy business develops and commercializes clean combustion technology for biosolids, in addition to other organ...

EnerTech Environmental

This renewable energy business develops and commercializes clean combustion technology for biosolids, in addition to other organic wastes. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, EnerTech was established to supply solutions to the issues that arise from traditional waste-management techniques, while at the same time, cost-effectively creating renewable energy.

One of the company’s flagship products is the patented SlurryCarb™, which is a process for cleanly and affordably transforming high-moisture wastes into high-grade renewable fuel. EnerTech has various other U.S. and international patents for multiple-combustion and high-pressure technologies. EnerTech facilities are situated in both California and in Japan.

The company’s mission is to offer public health and environmental protection. EnerTech is unique in that it sees proper waste management as a necessary component to a healthy community and thriving environment, yet also sees an opportunity for generating energy from waste. The company has proven itself successful in converting wastes into high-grade energy. Additionally, the fuel being generated from waste releases zero greenhouse gases into the environment.

Lanza Tech

This energy technology company earned its place on the distinguished 2010 Global Cleantech Top 100 list, which takes note of commercially inventive and revolutionary technologies of the world. Chief Executive, Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, attributes the listing to the company’s international team, and its research-and-development team, overseen by CSO and co-founder, Dr. Sean Simpson, in New Zealand. Dr. Holmgren said, “LanzaTech has made significant strides in 2010, and this recognition validates our unique gas-to-fuels and chemicals technology in the Global Cleantech arena.”

Lanza Tech’s Dr. Holmgren and Dr. Simpson were included on the list of Top 100 People in BioEnergy by Biofuels Digest.

The company is responsible for developing a technology that harnesses the harmful gases generated from industrial waste, such as carbon monoxide, and converts them into fuel. The process reduces the carbon footprint of industrial processes and extracts oil for transportation fuel.

Through gasification, converting biomass to carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas, more than 90 percent of energy is available for fermentation.

Dr. Simpson said, "The LanzaTech process addresses the global need for cost-competitive low carbon transport fuel, and has the flexibility to either be used to reduce GHG emissions from steel manufacture or through the direct displacement of fossil fuels, with biomass derived ethanol, a sustainable alternative."
Ze-gen Inc.

According to Ze-gen, as of November of this year, close to 2 million tons of waste occupy landfills and only two percent of energy potential in solid waste is actually used. The company is, however, working toward changing those statistics. Through the company’s gasification technology, ordinary waste streams can be converted into a viable energy resource.

Ze-gen, which stands for zero-emissions generation, has commercialized an economical and environmentally beneficial alternative to land-filling and incineration. The gasification system developed by the company is an efficient, affordable approach for utilizing waste to its full potential.

The company’s engineers focus on one design for gasification modules, which allow for standardization, and minimal costs and time-to-market. Until now, gasification on a commercial scale has not come to fruition.

The company was established in 2004 and works toward efficiently repurposing the carbon content of conventional solid waste streams into synthesis gas, and further, into various forms of renewable energy.

Ze-gen was selected as one of the GoingGreen Silicon Valley Top 100, which recognizes leadership, and game-changing methods and technology, which are capable of disrupting current markets and leading players in the industry.

MBA Polymers

With locations in the U.S., Austria and China, this business is focused on recycling engineering plastics from complex waste streams, as well as durable goods that are no longer usable, such as computers, business equipment, sporting equipment and appliances.

The company was established in 1994 and, today, is a world leader in developing advanced technology to recover high-value engineering plastics and other materials from complex streams of co-mingled material. MBA’s automated technology accepts shredded materials from multiple sources and transforms that material into high-value engineering plastics for reuse in similar applications. Ferrous and nonferrous metals are also recovered and recycled via local recycling companies.

The company commenced commercial operations in 2000 and is capable of processing several million pounds of plastic every month. The company intends to expand throughout the U.S., as well as internationally.

MBA Polymers won multiple awards through the Department of Energy NICE3 program and California’s Cal-Tip program. Additionally, it won the prestigious DOC NIST ATP grant and the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. The company is most noted for its innovation, having received the 2002 Thomas Alva Edison Awards for innovation, and was chosen as one of “America’s Most Innovative Companies” by the Inc. Magazine Innovation Series.

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Jul 28, 2021

Industry movement with heat decarbonisation

Dominic Ellis
6 min
As SGN and Vital Energi announce 50:50 joint venture, the heat decarbonisation market is seeing some welcome movement

It is estimated that the heat network market requires approximately £30 billion of investment by 2050 to meet the UK Government’s net zero targets, and the decarbonisation of heat has been highlighted as a particular challenge.

The Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget states the UK should target 20% of UK heat demand through low-carbon heat networks by 2050 - but as with most discussions surrounding mass decarbonisation, even reaching that target won't be an easy task. In the UK approximately 40% of energy consumption and 20% of GHG emissions are due to the heating and hot water supply for buildings.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that globally, around half of all energy consumption is used for providing heat, mainly for homes and industry.

Source: Heat Trust

This week saw some positive movement, however, with gas distribution company SGN and UK renewable energy solutions provider Vital Energi announcing a 50:50 joint venture, which will create an Energy Services Company (ESCO) representing utility infrastructure and heat network providers. 

This includes delivery of heat to developments planned by SGN’s property arm, SGN Place, and the local vicinities where there is a demand for low-carbon heat.

The objective is to supply new and existing residential, industrial and commercial facilities and development activity is already underway for two projects in Scotland and the South East, with another 20 in the pipeline. SGN is looking to develop alternative heat solutions alongside its core gas distribution business and expand into the growing district heating market, recognising the future of heat is likely to include a mix of technological solutions and energy sources.

Vital Energi is seeking to expand into asset ownership opportunities to complement its core design, build and operations businesses. The complementary skillsets of both organisations will offer a compelling proposition for developers, commercial and industrial users and public sector bodies seeking low-carbon heat solutions.

SGN’s Director of Commercial Services and Investments Marcus Hunt said: “Heat networks are likely to play an increasing role in the delivery of UK heat in the context of net zero. The creation of this joint venture with market-leading Vital Energi enables us to build a presence in this emerging market, delivering new heat infrastructure and supporting decarbonisation.”

Nick Gosling, Chief Strategy Officer at Vital Energi, said: “Combining the resources, expertise and know-how of both organisations will allow us to play a major role in delivering the UK’s transition to low and zero-carbon heat.”

In March, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) starting collaborating with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) to decarbonise heat and power at Kirkwall Airport through green hydrogen technology. 2G Energy was selected to deliver a CHP plant which generates heat and electricity from 100% hydrogen.

Heat decarbonisation options 

The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) highlights the following options for decarbonising heating. 


Use renewable electricity to generate heat in the home. As power sector emissions fall, emissions associated with electric heating are decreasing rapidly.

Low carbon gases

Replace natural gas that most homes use for heating with hydrogen, which releases energy but not carbon dioxide, the only waste product is water. Biomethane is also an option as it produces less carbon than natural gas over a full lifecycle.

For hydrogen to work, the pipes in the national gas grid would need to be replaced and home boilers would need to be adapted or changed. This is possible but could incur considerable cost. 

Biomethane is chemically identical to methane from natural gas, so is suited to existing infrastructure and appliances. It is unlikely, however, that it can be produced in sufficient quantities to replace fossil gas entirely.


A hybrid system combining both electrification and hydrogen is a third option. Here, heat pumps could be used to meet the majority of heat demand, with a (low carbon) gas boiler taking over in extremely cold weather. Advantages of this approach include helping establish a market for heat pumps while hydrogen is developed to displace natural gas in the hybrid system eventually, and the ability to call on hydrogen when heat demand is at its very highest.

Heat networks

Heat networks connect a central heat source to a number of buildings via a series of underground hot water pipes, and are popular in countries such as Denmark, where heat networks supply 63% of households. The Government expects the heat networks market in the UK to grow quickly to supply up to 20% of heat demand over the next decade or so, investing £320 million into its flagship Heat Networks Investment Project to help get this underway.

Heat networks work particularly well in built-up urban areas or industrial clusters where there is a large and concentrated demand for heat. Over time, it is thought that if the central heat source can be low carbon, then there is the opportunity to ensure that multiple homes and buildings are decarbonised at once.


Biomass can be used to reduce emissions when used instead of more polluting fuels like oil in off gas grid properties. Support for biomass boilers has been available since 2011 via the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), but take-up has been low.

Supply constraints also restrict the role that biomass – burning solid material such as wood – can play. In any case, according to the Committee on Climate Change, this resource may be better used in other sectors of the economy such as construction, where it provides carbon storage without the need for CCS and reduces demand for carbon-intensive materials such as steel and cement.

The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC)'s latest report sets out how rapidly increasing demand for bioresources could outstrip sustainable supply, undermining climate mitigation efforts and harming biodiversity, unless alternative zero-carbon options are rapidly scaled-up and use of bioresources carefully prioritised.

"Alternative zero-carbon solutions, such as clean electrification or hydrogen, must be developed rapidly to lessen the need for bio-based solutions," it states.

The overall decarbonisation of industry is another major challenge, especially among four sectors that contribute 45 percent of CO2 emissions: cement, steel, ammonia, and ethylene, according to a McKinsey report. 

The process demands reimagining production processes from scratch and redesigning existing sites with costly rebuilds or retrofits. Furthermore, companies that adopt low-carbon production processes will see a short- to mid-term increase in cost, ultimately placing them at an economic disadvantage in a competitive global commodities market.

Next steps

Ken Hunnisett is Project Director for the Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP)’s delivery partner Triple Point, which is the delivery partner for the government's Heat Network Investment Project, which is responsible for investing up to £320million in strategic, low-carbon heat network projects across England and Wales.

He is calling for the urgent need to invest in the development of new heating infrastructure to support the nation’s decarbonisation effort. So far £165m of HNIP funds have prompted £421m CAPEX, providing more green jobs as the UK economy eases from the lows sustained from the pandemic.  

Decarbonising the UK's heating infrastructure is critical if we are to reach our net-zero goals and it’s crucial that progress is made in this decisive decade, he added. 

"Heat networks are a part of the lowest-cost pathway to decarbonising our homes and workplaces in the future but are also the bit of the jigsaw that we can be putting into place now," he said. "Penetration into the UK market is still low, despite heat representing 37% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, the largest single contributor by some way. Funding needs to be urgently directed towards reducing the environmental impact of the residential sector, particularly given the slow pace of the decline in residential emissions in comparison to those of business and transport."

Currently, just 3% of UK buildings are serviced by heat networks. "Further investment in this industry, using public and private funds, will not only drive wider sustainability targets but will boost the economy by providing more green jobs as the country emerges from the pandemic," he said.

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