This clean tech player is about to list with thermal plasma that can destroy harmful PFAS chemicals
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Special Report: Clean tech player Synergen Met is preparing to list next month with its unique thermal plasma technology that can break down harmful per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment.
PFAS is a molecule invented in the 1950s for use in firefighting foam in airfields all over the world, but since then it’s been found to contaminate soil, water tables and even concrete.
“In Australia, every week, firefighting training is performed on airfields across the country. That requires the use of a foam additive that used to have PFAS in it. ,” Synergen Met (ASX:SH2) MD and CEO Christopher Dunks said.
“So, since the 1960s, foam has been left to run off an airfield into grass and into soil, and then it migrates its way down into a water table.
“It’s also in the wastewater – or leachate – in every rubbish tip, and in every wastewater treatment plant and it just accumulates over time and the contamination becomes stronger and stronger.
PFAS has been dubbed the ‘forever chemical’ because no one has been able to destroy it effectively – until now.
For the past 15 years, Synergen Met has been working together with the University of Queensland Department of Chemical Engineering on developing innovative thermal plasma technology for chemical processing and waste treatment with successful outcomes in cyanide processing, acetylene and hydrogen production, soot treatment and hazardous chemical destruction. This work has been recognised by the receipt of major awards by both the Institution of Chemical Engineers UK, and the Institution of Engineers, Australia.
“As a result of this work, what we’ve done is created a process that destroys the PFAS molecule properly for the first time,” Dunks says.
“We’ve invented processes for liquids like water, leachate, wastewater or groundwater where we concentrate that PFAS, which can be at a concentration from as low as 150 parts per trillion (ppt) to up to 150 parts per billion (ppb).
“We concentrate that up to 1000 times and then we put it through our plasma system which breaks apart the PFAS molecule, then we turn that into a safe product called calcium fluoride – which is what’s in your toothpaste.”
The company is planning to list early July with an IPO of $25m at $0.20.
The US Biden-Harris administration unveiled this week a plan to combat PFAS water pollution, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) making $1 billion in grant funding available through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help communities that are on the frontlines of PFAS contamination.
It’s the first of tranche $5 billion through the Law that can be used to reduce PFAS in drinking water in communities facing disproportionate impacts, through actions such as technical assistance, water quality testing, contractor training, and installation of centralised treatment technologies and systems.
This presents an enormous market opportunity for Synergen Met, Dunks said, not to mention that the company’s tech is transportable so can be taken out to different contaminated sites.
“The Biden-Harris strategy is supporting the EPA’s roadmap, which is about basically eliminating PFAS at the source, which is really smart,” he said.
“In Australia, it’s the councils and the government bodies that are being held to account and having to pay for it all, whereas in the United States the government’s going after the chemical companies who invented this in the first place.
“And because our technology is so unique – no one is doing what we are doing – the market opportunity for us is enormous.”
An added bonus is that the tech can also be used in decarbonisation, with its ability to produce green hydrogen by splitting methane (natural gas).