A Shawnee-based energy company intends to help the world tackle two of its toughest problems at the same time.
Evolution Renewable Energy Inc., a five-person partnership, is trying to line up investors to commercialize its process for turning trash into electricity.
Tony Wall, the company's chief financial officer, calls the process “one of the most significant developments of the 21st century.”
Wall said it can deal with the “unbelievable amount” of waste being created by society, while providing a self-sustaining source of electrical generation.
He said the fledgling company is raising money to build a mobile prototype that uses its “sustained thermokinetic accelerated radiation technology,” known as STAR TEK.
CEO Garry Sexton said the process works on a molecular level, creating energy by rapidly breaking down waste material.
“We decrease the decomposition time from what would normally take several hundred or a thousand years into a few seconds or a minute,” he said. “During that time, we're actually breaking it apart in a way that would occur naturally.”
Sexton said it is a cheaper way to produce electricity.
“By utilizing waste materials as the fuel, or what we call feedstock, we can reduce the cost of production,” said Sexton, an engineer with extensive experience in South Korea and China. “At the same time, we eliminate some environmental problems.”
He said Evolution's process, which he described as a “flameless, conversion technology,” uses up about 98 percent of its feedstock, leaving behind an inert product free of chemicals or pathogens that can be used for other purposes or put into a landfill.
Wall said leftover ashcan be used in concrete, road materials or anything else that needs filler.
He said turning waste material into energy reduces the need for future landfills.
Sexton said Evolution's technology should be able to reduce the cost of energy because there is no fluctuation in fuel costs.
“The cost of waste remains stable because cities actually pay what's called a tipping fee, or a cost per ton, to dispose of that waste,” he said. “So in our business model, we will receive the tipping fee, so they effectively pay us to power our facility, which means we can guarantee a levelized price for five years or 10 years per kilowatt of electrical energy.
“No other fuel source, no other technology can do that.”
Sexton said the company's technology can work on just about any scale, from something small enough to fit in the backyard to a facility big enough to power any entire city.
He said a plant to power a city the size of Oklahoma City would require about 15 acres of land because there would have to be room to store the waste material meant to be used as fuel.
Sexton said the company's process can generate one kilowatt of electricity from three pounds of waste, which shouldn't be hard to come by since the average American is responsible for 4.5 pounds of trash a day.
Wall said Evolution's technology is safe, without any radiation or risk of explosion.
The reaction shuts down after the feedstock is removed.
He said existing equipment can be used to set up a power plant using the company's technology.
“The only thing that is completely new here is the process itself,” Wall said. “That is completely new and we consider it a breakthrough.”