New innovators are popping up everywhere in the Cleantech space. While climate change may seem like a daunting challenge there are millions of companies working to combat CO2 emissions and transform waste into renewable alternatives. These are unprecedented times and not only are cleantech companies saving the world, they are also powerful and profitable contributors to circular green economies. When you fully understand the collective intelligence working to combat climate issues it gives us all hope for a sustainable future for our kids.
Nobody ever thought they could take Cow manure and turn it into a highly efficient fuel, but that is exactly what Lignium Energy has done. The OGM had the privilege of interviewing Lignium Energy originally from Chile. CEO & Founder Enrique Guzman and COO Agustin Rios share the journey from vision to market with a very hot Cleantech solution that will be sweeping the US nation in the near future.
We were looking for some way to help decontaminate the cities of southern Chile, where 9 of the 10 most polluted cities in South America are in Chile, mainly due to the use of wet firewood for heating. We had to find a fuel that was both ecologically and economically viable. We analyzed different options and we realized that the pellet made from biomass was the best solution, but the main raw material (wood) was scarce and we did not have it, so José Antonio Caraball, the inventor of the Lignium technology, came up with the brilliant idea of generating this biomass from waste with no apparent use, cow manure.
It all started from an idea that we had to put into practice. At first, we were not sure that this was going to work, but the theory was with us, so we started with a pilot that we built in a workshop. Once we made the first validation, we implemented ourselves on a dairy farm with 500 heads and, through effort and iteration, we managed to generate excellent biomass and with it pellets, generating the first sale and validating the commercial use of our product. At the end of the day, our added value is the cleaning of the biomass found in animal manure.
As a company, we want to solve a giant environmental problem that has not yet been solved, cow manure. We want to generate an excellent business from this, which does not need a grant for its use.
Biomass is generally an agricultural waste of woody origin, where it can be found from sawdust to rice bushes. Not all biomass allows for generating a quality pellet that can be marketed. Everything will always depend on the level of ash and contaminants that it has. Since we have a cleaning system that is simple, efficient, and economical, we are able to generate quality biomass that meets the standards to be marked.
AGUSTIN RIOS: The company’s patent journey begins in 2018 with the generation of the idea and the application of the patent, which is already granted in 39 countries around the world and non-provisionally in 19 countries. We knew that we were facing a global problem with no solution, and if what we thought back then, in 2018, was true, we had something very powerful in our hands that could be used in any country in the world. This is why we decided to go with a very strong patent process that would legally cover the use of our technology anywhere in the world.
AGUSTIN RIOS: After the success in Chile, Lignium decided to move the operation to the U.S. was led by founder and CEO, Enrique Guzman, and myself COO, Agustin Rios. We become members of Greentown Labs, America’s largest climatech incubator, and from there we generated an aggressive roadmap for growth and expansion in 2022. Lignium is going to build a prototype to generate the first pellet on American soil and validate the product as we previously did in Chile. We will bring the process to the market with top key American key partners. It’s a very exciting time.
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