New Zealand Clean-tech Start-up Cetogenix Raises $4.5M Seed Funding For Organic Waste To Renewable Energy Technology
Round led by NZ’s Pacific Channel will support Cetogenix’s scale-up and deployment of its sustainable waste-to-energy technology to aid global decarbonisation efforts
ROTORUA, NZ, 7 July 2022 - New Zealand clean technology company Cetogenix, a developer of systems for organic waste to renewable energy conversion, announced today it had secured $4.5 million in seed funding led by deep-tech investor Pacific Channel, with support from AngelHQ and Enterprise Angels. The investment will support Cetogenix’s technology scale-up and global deployment of products, with Europe and North America the initial focus, as decarbonisation policies and energy security challenges are driving significant renewable natural gas production investment.
Cetogenix’s modular systems break down a wide range of organic wastes to generate renewable energy and recover by-products. Its unique combination of chemical and microbiological processes can be located at and scaled to the waste stream source to enable conversion into renewable natural gas, fertilisers, and bio-based products, such as biodegradable plastics. With a market opportunity Cetogenix estimates at more than $30 billion, applications include agriculture, food processing, sewage treatment and industrial manufacturing wastes.
The company’s flagship product CETO-Boost, currently under development, targets a 40% increase in renewable natural gas production when retrofitted to existing anaerobic digestion plants. The technology provides a complementary solution to other technology providers globally.
Dr Trevor Stuthridge, Cetogenix’s Managing Director, sees massive potential for the company: “What makes Cetogenix so compelling is its unique ability to address the most significant challenges presented by organic waste disposal: value recovery, environmental impacts, and processing cost. Our technologies divert organic wastes from landfills and other disposal routes to produce sustainable low-carbon economic alternatives to fossil-derived gas and materials.”
Pacific Channel Investment Principal, Lachlan Nixon, says its investment in Cetogenix recognises the potential of the ground-breaking technology to underpin a successful commercial business while having a material impact on emissions.
“Cetogenix is an excellent example of how new bio-technology can accelerate decarbonisation goals while addressing economic and societal challenges. Getting more renewable energy from the same volume of organic waste fundamentally alters the economics of organic waste treatment through anaerobic digestion, meaning that it’s now both commercial and beneficial for the environment.”
Annually, 1.5 billion tonnes of organic waste are generated worldwide, and disposal options are becoming untenable due to their significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, cost-benefit challenges, social licence constraints, and environmental impacts on land and water.
Worldwide, 3,746 km³ of fossil-derived natural gas is used annually, and sustainable renewable natural gas alternatives that decarbonise the natural gas sector are currently not economically viable. Additionally, current renewable natural gas production levels are insufficient to meet growing global mandates for energy self-sufficiency and as a critical feedstock for chemical manufacture.
“Cetogenix’s technology is a game changer because it tackles both these organic waste and natural gas issues concurrently”, says Dr Stuthridge. “For many countries, including New Zealand, demand for local production and investment in climate-positive energy sustainability is expected to increase ten-fold over the next ten years.”
Dr Stuthridge notes that current events, such as the Ukraine crisis, have emphasised the need for nations to be more focused on crucial energy resources, such as natural gas.
The technology underpinning Cetogenix was developed at Scion, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute specialising in research, science and technology development for the forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials, and other biomaterial sectors.
Scion’s General Manager of Forests to Biobased Products, Florian Graichen, is pleased to see their R&D translated to a commercial outcome: “The Cetogenix executive team were the driving force for the original science and technology undertaken at Scion. It is exciting to see the launch of this revolutionary clean-tech innovation. With a Scion-Cetogenix memorandum of understanding in place, we look forward to continuing to work together as this technology is scaled-up and deployed.”
Dr Stuthridge agrees: “Working together, we can build renewable futures for current and future generations and ensure Aotearoa New Zealand makes a real impact on climate change not only in our own backyard but on a global scale. In addition, working on technologies for a zero-carbon future creates a huge economic opportunity for New Zealand.”
The Cetogenix leadership team (L-R): Dr Trevor Stuthridge - Managing Director, Robert Lei - Chief Commercial Officer, Dr Daniel Gapes - Chief Scientific Officer, Alexandra Stuthridge - Chief Operations Officer.
Anaerobic digester biogas plants (example pictured) are a target market for Cetogenix’s Ceto-Boost product, which can be retrofitted.