Innovation That Matters

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From biowaste to carbon-negative activated charcoal


A new process transforms wood and nut shells into activated carbon products

Spotted: Activated carbon has many uses, including filtering contaminants from water, air, and even the human body. However, while it is used to clean up the environment, producing it usually involves heating coal to very high temperatures, which requires a great deal of energy. Now, startup Bygen now has a solution to this problem.

Founded in 2018, Bygen’s mission is to establish scalable activated carbon production with a negative carbon footprint. The company has patented a ‘low-temperature activation’ (LTA) process, which uses agricultural waste as both a source of carbon and heat for the activation process. The entirely self-sustaining process uses renewable alternatives to coal, like wood and nut shells, as starting material.

In addition to reducing CO2 emissions and water consumption in the manufacturing of activated charcoal, Bygen’s process creates new uses for waste such as nut shells, that would otherwise have little value. It is also significantly cheaper than traditional manufacturing processes.

The company’s products can be used in the same way as traditionally produced activated carbon, including to remove organic contaminants in water treatment, for decolourisation and purification, for deodorisation in the food and beverage sector, and for air purification. Bygen also provides activated carbon for specific uses such as trace chemical or herbicide removal, food-grade products, cosmetology, automotive applications, industrial gas purification, and petroleum.

Bygen has recently completed a $2.6 million (around €2.4 million) series A funding round. The funds will be used to support the establishment of a full-scale production plant, as well as plans for the construction of additional commercial plants. Co-founder and CEO Lewis Dunnigan told Springwise that the company expects it will be producing thousands of tonnes of activated carbon annually within the next 12 months.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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