Climate tech startup aims to make natural gas extinct

Vertus Energy says its invention makes anaerobic digesters three times faster.

The following includes excerpts by Nicola Shepheard (NBR)

 

Climate tech startup Vertus Energy has raised $1.2 million in a pre-seed round after going through the Startmate accelerator programme.
The startup claims its technology could help drive the complete replacement of fossil fuel-based natural gas, the source of 25% of the world’s energy, with renewable alternatives within a decade or so.

“Our aim is to be one of the biggest contributors to the world’s transition to green energy and conquering climate change,” co-founder and chief operating officer Benjamin Howard said. “We want to play an active role in making fossil gas extinct.”

Vertus Energy’s invention, called Brio, is designed to work with anaerobic digesters, which convert the methane released from sludge, manure and other organic waste into renewable gas, or biogas.

Inventors say the Brio system sits inside existing anaerobic digesters (AD) and makes them work better: processing three times more waste and producing 60% more biogas, lifting yield from 50% to 80% of methane inputs.

This addresses three flaws that stop AD plants from fulfilling their full climate change potential, the inventors claim: slow processing times, poor methane yield, and heavy reliance on government subsidies. The Brio system is also highly resistant to contaminants and adaptable to multiple waste-streams.

Raise

The $1.2m pre-seed funding round was led by Icehouse Ventures with support from Outset Ventures, Startmate, and Noab Ventures.
The new funds will enable Vertus Energy to expand its field pilots, with its first Brio demonstration plant scheduled to be operational on a South Auckland farm early next year.

Potential

Research from Fortune Business Insights suggests that the global bioenergy market is likely to reach $642 billion by 2027.

A joint study by Beca, Firstgas Group, and Fonterra, published in July, concluded that renewable gas is a “viable, untapped solution to decarbonising New Zealand’s residential natural gas network right now, with the potential to replace nearly 20% of New Zealand’s total gas usable by 2050”.

According to its estimates, installing wide-scale anaerobic digestion could produce enough renewable gas to supply all residential users and three-quarters of commercial gas users with carbon-free fuel, equivalent to taking 415,000 petrol cars off the country’s roads.

Next Raise

The company expects to do another raise in 18 months. By then, the company aims to have some contracts with partners signed and the technology refined, perhaps up to its third generation.

Vertus are hopeful the maturing tech entrepreneurial ecosystem in NZ will allow them to maintain their base here. They believe in giving back to the country in which their company was founded by creating jobs and attracting talent.

 

28 October 2021


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