Decarbonizing chemicals synthesis using a low-cost distributed platform.
Gas flaring is a wasteful practice in the oil and gas industry. Hydrocarbon rich gas that is produced as a byproduct of oil production or oil and natural gas processing is burned on-site because there is no economically attractive way to transport it to market. The practice creates significant greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that negatively affect air quality in nearby communities.
Emmanuel Kasseris and Leslie Bromberg, the founders of Emvolon, see this gas as a stranded but extremely valuable resource. There is potential to turn gas that would be burned into useful in-demand liquid chemicals easily transported to market. The pair are pioneering a portable system built using inexpensive and ubiquitous diesel engines to do such conversion at the site of the flares, eliminating transportation logistics and associated costs. Using mass produced engines as mini chemical plants, Emvolon can achieve orders of magnitude cost reduction for small scale chemical manufacturing.
The same device can be used to convert other stranded resources like biomass, which would otherwise rot in fields or forests, into a variety of useful chemicals. It can also be applied to distributed ammonia manufacturing, providing chemical energy storage for communities without reliable grid connections or renewable fertilizer.
Kasseris and Bromberg envision a world in which stranded resources are no longer wasted. One that efficiently and effectively harnesses every component of industrial processes to provide communities with necessary raw materials, without the need for massive refineries and chemical plants. Such a future would have a smaller carbon footprint while simultaneously enabling the on-demand and distributed production of chemicals.
“We’re building on 100 years of engineering to deliver modular, customizable performance,” Kasseris notes. “By leveraging economies of mass production, we will enable distributed chemical manufacturing when and where it is needed most.”
Emvolon was born from Leslie Bromberg’s work at MIT. Bromberg holds a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and has held various lead research roles in academia and the private sector for 40 years. A serial inventor, he also holds over 50 patents, many of which he has successfully commercialized.
Kasseris met Bromberg when he was working towards his own PhD at the MIT Mechanical Engineering department. But it wasn’t until Kasseris had spent several years leading research, development, and commercialization efforts for energy technologies at Chevron and ConocoPhilips as well as in academia, that he reconnected with Bromberg to formally pursue Emvolon.
During his career in the energy industry, Kasseris saw the problems and challenges with natural gas flaring first hand. He also realized that if he were to make meaningful change in the industry, he’d have to do it from the outside, where we could experiment and innovate at a pace fast enough to make a difference.
“Our mission is simple,” says Kasseris, “We will help global communities give new life to stranded resources that would otherwise be wasted. Whether they use these resources to produce power, fertilizers, or other chemicals, the impact is huge — less waste and the ability to make their own power, their own fertilizers, and their own chemicals without the need for massive infrastructure required for the conventional approaches.”