Meet the minds accelerating the energy transition – hailing from New Zealand, Vertus Energy’s four co-founders are ready to bring relief to Europe’s energy crises
Sometimes a random encounter is all it takes to change the course of your life. This was certainly true for Uruguayan Santiago de los Reyes and Chilean Danilo Perez who met at a Latin American community networking event in New Zealand.
The two hit it off and together with mechanical engineer Freddy Gonzalez they started working together to bring Danilo’s innovation in energy-efficiency to market.
After years of painstaking research, Danilo had successfully turned his idea into a patented technology that makes anaerobic digestion and fermentation processes more efficient and faster to deliver, ultimately offering better quality renewable biogas energy at lower cost.
Vertus Energy technology unlocks an extra 60% energy from the same waste, and it does it three times faster than the current processes in place, reducing all ongoing costs while increasing both the quantity and quality of biogas processed.
Benjamin Howard later joined the co-founding team, bringing expertise in commercial construction and a plan to help bring Vertus Energy technology to the UK.
“We all converge here in New Zealand as four migrants trying to do some good for the world. We got on pretty well and all have the mindset that we have to do something. It’s not an option to not do anything about the current energy situation that we live in,” says Santiago.
“Essentially, what we are trying to do is to develop a biological platform to make renewable gas more affordable and achievable in this energy transition era.
And with rising energy costs placing increasing financial pressure on consumers and businesses and the REPowerEU strategy aimed at reducing Russian gas imports significantly in 2022 and weaning Europe completely off of Russian energy by 2030 – the pressure is on to fuel the energy transition. Vertus Energy is ready to rise to the occasion.
What impact does your technology have on the energy industry?
BRIO is a small but powerful unit that lives inside the anaerobic digester. BRIO allows AD plants to process three times more waste in the same sized tank while delivering biogas with 60% more energy potential than ever before.
Our second technology, BODA, is carbon sequestration and conversion technology. BODA can either be used to “upgrade” the biogas from AD into Bio-methane or it can capture raw CO₂ and convert it into Renewable Natural Gas. BODA is a strong and powerful unit that eats CO₂ and H₂ to produce Renewable Natural Gas.
Our technology unlocks an extra 60% energy from the same waste, and it does it 3 times faster than the current processes in place.
What challenges have you faced in setting up Vertus Energy?
We were looking to be that infrastructure company that would deliver the full anaerobic digestion plant along with our technology. However, with limited funding and resources, we decided to change our focus to developing a technology that can be implemented into existing anaerobic digestion plants.
New Zealand is quite behind in the anaerobic digestion industry. Hence, one of the challenges we have right now is to develop a way to help regions that don’t currently have a mature biogas industry and to push the biogas industry forward.
Why is biogas a crucial part of the energy transition?
Biogas is the only fuel that can be upgraded and provide a direct drop-in replacement for Natural Gas without having to change any of the current distribution methods. This means that it can be one of the fastest renewable fuels to be implemented within the decade to help us towards net-zero targets and it keeps it affordable for consumers as we transition.
It can be produced from organic waste, which as humanity grows, is only going to increase. Biogas is very versatile. It can be used to produce electricity, heat, upgrade to renewable natural gas, replace many traditional fossil fuels in the transport sector and even provide sustainable aviation fuel from a carbon negative perspective. Its applications are truly endless.