Discarded potato waste, manure from dairy cows, and piles of old onions: could these be the ingredients for a renewable fuel source?
Those at Novus Energy
think so, and they're working to take "low-value" products such as these and turn them into high-value energy.
Started about seven years ago, the Minneapolis company based its name on the Latin word for "novel, new, fresh." The three founders saw the effects of the ethanol boom and thought that there would be an even better way to achieve energy independence.
"Our chemistry is very innovative, and makes us different than traditional approaches," says CEO Joseph Burke. "We create energy from waste, taking items that might be discarded and turning them into biomethane and liquid fertilizer."
The startup faces challenges in terms of funding and adoption of its technology, Burke says. In the case of its fertilizer, the liquid organic emulsion it produces isn't yet in high demand since it's not as utilized in the agriculture market.
However, with growing interest in organic farming, and a social trend toward more sustainable products, Burke is confident that Novus will be the fresh approach the market needs.
Currently, the firm employs four people, and plans to grow at a manageable rate. Burke notes that the company is structured to bring in partners in order to have a smaller staff, so it can remain a nimble startup. In terms of market growth, though, the opportunities seem endless.
"Wherever there's a combination of low-value feedstock and food processing, we'll have a market," says Burke.
Source: Joseph Burke, Novus Energy
Writer: Elizabeth Millard