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Boulder-based New Sky was one of 24 companies awarded one of the grants, which came from Alberta, Canada-based Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. The awards mark the first round in a competition focused on fostering carbon dioxide utilization technologies, or processes that convert carbon into useful products instead of just capturing it and sequestering it under ground.
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The second round of the competition launches next year, with five winners receiving $3 million each. From those finalists, one final winner will be chosen to receive a $10 million grant in 2018.
Founded in 2007 by Deane Little and Joe Kosmoski, New Sky has a variety of technologies geared toward converting waste streams into useful chemicals. The eight-employee company is backed by angel and private-equity investors. Little, New Sky’s chief executive and chief science officer, said the company plans to hire three more employees over the next month and will hire a couple more beyond that under its new grant.
The $500,000 from CCEMC will help New Sky develop its SulfurCycle-CO2 mineralization process.
About one-third of the natural gas mined in Alberta is sour, meaning it has unacceptable levels of sulfur compounds and carbon dioxide. Those sulfur compounds and carbon dioxide must be removed.
New Sky’s SulfurCycle mineralizes carbon dioxide into industrial chemicals. The harmful sulfur compounds, meanwhile, are converted into sulfur and other elemental sulfur compounds that are safe. The process in part uses energy derived from the captured sulfur, helping to reduce the cost and increase the energy efficiency of the sour gas sweetening process.