The importance of cleantech in combating climate change cannot be overstated. The energy, industry, construction and transport sectors together account for 75% of global emissions and new technologies are key if we are to halt this destructive cycle before it’s too late. One of the major challenges facing the energy and petrochemical sectors, is the quest to develop a technology that will guarantee – at oil industry scale – the effective, efficient and profitable conversion of non-food biomass into liquid fuels and a range of useful chemicals.
Nova Pangea Technologies (NPT) are addressing these issues directly – founded in September 2008, they develop and commercialise a continuous waste biomass fractionation conversion technology (Refnova™) which will generate valuable fuel and chemical intermediates. The team is led by CEO Ed Wilson, who has also invested in the business. He was formerly CEO of CEL International (previously Courtaulds Engineering Ltd). He led their buyout from Courtaulds, subsequent development and exit via sale to WSP, yielding investors ~70x their original investment. A Chartered Engineer, with an MBA from Cranfield, Ed has over 35 years’ experience in the process and energy industries.
The Refnova process was specifically designed to differentiate positively from others technically and in terms of economic efficiency. It has already been granted US, European and other international patents with further process enhancement and IP-protecting patents in preparation. They have won two significant government grants – the first, for £1.8m, under InnovateUK’s BioEnergy Sustaining The Future programme (“BESTF”); and the second, for £3m, later increased based on progress to £4.65m, one of only three awards made under the Department for Transport’s Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition (“ABDC”). NPT decided not to pursue the BESTF award but concentrate instead on ABDC which, with more focussed objectives, was a close fit to NPT’s optimum commercialisation plan.
NPT believes that conditions in the oil and petrochemicals markets, combined with pressure to reduce both carbon and NOx emissions, will result in major profitable growth opportunities for the Refnova™ process. The economics and simplicity of engine conversion to biofuel blends, produced continuously at scale from waste cellulosic sources with vastly reduced emissions, can outperform other developments – as evidenced by continuing strong efforts by governments internationally to promote their development and use. Importantly, the entire process is continuous and rapid, and involves no use of costly enzymes or bacteria in producing sugars, unlike most biofuel processes that do use such bio-actives. It is therefore capable of extending to large scales and reaping major benefits in terms of capital and operating costs; independent technical and commercial studies confirm this and predict commercial superiority driven by these lower costs.
The company is now seeking funding of £4.5m for operations through the remainder of 2018 and for commercialisation to the end of 2019. In this regard we have secured a “cornerstone” investment commitment from a major UK fund of £1.5m over this period. Existing investors have pledged an additional £500,000; the team are looking for new investors to come in parallel with funds totalling in the range of £2.5m.