PharmAust leans to renewable energy, signs deal to convert waste to fuel
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Epichem, the subsidiary of ASX-listed PharmAust (ASX:PAA), has signed a licensing agreement with Illinois-based Thermaquatica, to develop and promote a disruptive waste-to-fuels technology.
The technology, Oxidative Hydrothermal Dissolution (OHD), was developed by US-based Australian Ken Anderson, founder and chief technology officer of Thermaquatica.
In short, OHD converts solid organic material to low-molecular-weight, water-soluble products using small amounts of dissolved oxygen in liquid water at high temperature and pressure. Southern Illinois University owns the patent rights to the technology.
In the deal, Epichem will help to advance OHD technology by using biomass and feedstock flow reactor material science. The flow reactor is a world-first, with the potential to turn a wide range of waste and biomass feedstock into valuable energy products.
The flow reactor will be carbon neutral, and has the potential to turn plastics into renewable fuels, coal into diesel, and rubber tyres into liquid fuels. It can also covert trees and leftover crops into ethanol and agricultural biostimulants.
PharmAust said the market for these products is potentially huge.
Bioplastics is a $10.5 billion market, and will grow into a $28 billion market in five years time. The bio-ethanol market will double to $65 billion in five years time, while biostimulants will also double to $5 billion in four years time.
The technology used in the flow reactor could also be used to enhance the process of carbon storage in soils, and might have applications in the minerals recovery sector.
“There are many things the flow reactor appears to be able to convert – we are eager to learn more of its capabilities and applications,” said Epichem CEO, Colin La Galia. “The flow reactor could make a significant contribution in the capability to deal with waste and produce diesel, liquid fuels, biofuels, liquid fertilisers and biostimulants.”
La Galia also said the technology will help Australia to produce its own ethanol for PPE requirements including the manufacture of hand sanitiser.
It will also create new revenue streams for the company in the removal of organic waste, and reducing landfill.
Epichem was awarded a $200,000 WasteSorted e-Waste Grant from the Western Australian Government New Industries Fund in January 2021.
PharmaAust itself is in the business of developing cancer therapeutics for both humans and animals.
The company is currently working on its clinical-stage drug, MPL, to treat dogs with B-cell lymphoma.
It’s also undergoing studies on MPL for its suitability for human COVID-19 testing, as well as drugs that fight motor neurone diseases.
For the half-year of FY21, the company reported a revenue of $1.1 million, for a net loss of $0.8 million.
Its share price has risen by 60 per cent in the past year, to trade today 10.5c.