Sierra Energy is the provider of the proprietary FastOx® gasification technology, which turns waste into hydrogen without burning. FastOx gasification uses oxygen and steam to heat waste up to 4,000°F (2204°C), where waste breaks down at the molecular level. Organic material is converted into hydrogen and inorganic material is recovered as either a non-leaching stone or molten metal. Here, founder and CEO Mike G. Hart explains how their technology can help further decarbonisation.
Can you tell us a bit about the company and its founders?
Sierra Energy was founded in 2004 and is based in Davis, California. Besides my role at Sierra Energy, I am also President of Sierra Railroad; I was named an “Environmental Hero” by the Environmental Protection Agency for my work in biodiesel and a “Champion of Change” by the White House. I founded Sierra Energy initially to provide biodiesel for our trains but realized that we could create a more powerful environmental impact on global greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on turning trash into clean, renewable hydrogen or other clean energy and fuels.
How does your solution contribute to the Digitalisation and Decarbonisation of the energy sector?
By producing hydrogen from post-recycled waste destined for landfill or incineration, the FastOx gasification solution both avoids methane from landfills and offsets fossil fuel for transportation and other uses. Landfills, especially poorly managed facilities, are a large source of methane, which is 86x more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20-year period.
What is your company’s proudest achievement to date?
We commissioned our commercial-scale demonstration facility at Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County, California and have operated on waste wood and municipal solid waste. Based upon success at that facility, we are now designing our first fully commercial unit at 100 metric tonnes per day (MTPD) of waste to hydrogen.
What specifically attracts you about the prospect of expanding to the Japanese market?
We are most excited about Japan’s focus on becoming a hydrogen economy. We believe Japan is both a thought and technology leader in the advancement and application of hydrogen. Naturally, with our focus on hydrogen as an end-product of our gasification technology, we think the country is a perfect fit.
How will your solution/product help advance the Japanese energy sector?
We believe our technology can help Japan be a technology leader in the production of transportation-quality hydrogen from waste feedstock while displacing the need for fossil fuel. The small footprint of our gasification facilities is suitable for Japan and our very low emissions profile can help Japanese energy providers green their energy offering.