CCE raising funds to build biogas plants

BOULDER – Carbon Cycle Energy LLC is raising $1.5 million in funding as the clean-tech startup gets ready to begin building biogas facilities that will convert waste methane into usable natural gas for a variety of applications.

Carbon Cycle, officially formed in August, has a Broomfield corporate address but operates at the Boulder headquarters of Applied Pharmaceutical, Environmental and Chemical Engineering Services Inc., which does business as APECS Inc.

Carbon Cycle chief executive James Powell said the company is already well into the fundraising efforts, but he wouldn’t disclose how much has been raised so far or from whom.

Powell is a Boulder entrepreneur who founded SynPro Corp., which was acquired by Agilent Technologies in the mid 2000s. He founded Carbon Cycle with APECS’ president Jerry Kovacich and Golden Energy Services’ co-founder Tom Mulholland.

Carbon Cycle plans to contract with wastewater treatment plants, landfills, agricultural companies and the food industry to collect their by-product methane – a potent greenhouse gas – that would otherwise be largely released into the atmosphere.

Carbon Cycle will develop, design, construct and operate small facilities – about the size of a couple of semitrailers – near its methane sources where the gas will be processed and developed into pipeline grade natural gas that can be sold to utility companies. If a source is too far from a pipeline to make that feasible, the resulting natural gas can be trucked to places like compressed natural gas stations for use in automobiles.

While natural gas isn’t a completely clean source of fuel, Powell said Carbon Cycle’s production will help recycle methane gas that is being produced anyway while reducing the amount of fresh natural that has to be extracted from the earth through hydraulic fracturing. And unlike some renewable energy sources like wind and solar, the gas production won’t be intermittent, meaning Carbon Cycle will be able to produce base load for utilities around the clock.

The sources of methane, he said, are ones that aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

“It’s the waste that keeps on giving,” Powell said.

Carbon Cycle’s founders have used their own funds to this point to get the company going, though Powell declined to say how much. The new capital will be used to set the company’s initial set of deals in motion. Powell said the hope is that the Carbon Cycle’s first facility will be under construction by the end of the year, with the gas from it coming online in 2015.

The company has six employees now including the founders, and will add a few this year. But Powell said he expects that number to leap to 40 by the end of the company’s third year.

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