Jan Børge Sagmo (left) and Finn Blydt-Svendsen, founders of Bergen Carbon Solutions, are working on a method for capturing and recycling carbon dioxide..

Bergen founders to tackle carbon emissions

Two entrepreneurs from Bergen are developing new technology that will turn CO2 emissions into a valuable new product.

Around the world, countries are racing to install new wind and solar power plants. Unfortunately, research has shown that this won’t be enough to avert some of the worst effects of climate change.

Fast-growing economies such as China and India still get more than 60% of their energy from coal-fired power stations, and these countries alone are planning to build around 300 new coal plants in the next few years.

If we’re going to avoid serious climate change, we’ll need to do something about these emissions that are already locked in to the system.

Here’s where founders Jan Børge Sagmo and Finn Blydt-Svendsen come into the picture. Their company, Bergen Carbon Solutions, is developing technology that can capture CO2 from facilities such as power plants, turning this into carbon nanofibres.

As Sagmo explains, “Rather than capturing CO2 and storing it underground, we’re using it to create a new raw material that is in high demand around the world.”

The company’s nanofibres are made of layers of graphene, which has been described as a “wonder material”. These microscopic fibres could enable us to build stronger vehicle components, longer-lasting batteries – and could even help to deliver cancer drugs in future.

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Carbon nanofibres have a range of uses, including in the automotive, aviation and medical industries. Photo © Bergen Carbon Solutions
What is carbon capture and utilization (CCU)?

- Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) involves capturing carbon emissions, and recycling them into new materials or products.

- This process has seen growing interest over recent years, after an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stated that carbon capture could play an important role in mitigating climate change.

- Companies around the world are experimenting with a range of different ways to recycle carbon dioxide into new products. This includes using carbon to create synthetic fuels, to grow algae, and even to manufacture stronger concrete.

Aiming to be world-leading by 2022

While still at the startup stage, Bergen Carbon Solutions is showing promising signs of success.

The company recently won a contract with Norway’s second largest waste management company, BIR, to install a full‑scale pilot facility at the company’s waste-to-energy plant in Bergen.

When the facility is ready in 2021, the aim is to capture and recycle some of the 230,000 tonnes of CO2 that this plant emits each year.

 “We’ve also been in contact with a range of international companies, who are interested both in buying our carbon nanofibres, and also in licensing our technology,” says Sagmo.

He explains that Bergen Carbon Solutions is eventually hoping to set up joint ventures with carbon emitters around the world. Companies will be able to license the technology, and will receive a share of the profits when the nanofibres are sold.

The founders are busy taking on new staff and are planning to raise further investment. Their goal is to be world-leading in the production of green carbon nanofibres by the year 2022.

What is it that keeps them going? “If we’re going to keep global warming to below 2˚C, then it’s important for us to capture and recycle as much CO2 as possible,” answers Sagmo. “The world needs companies like ours.”

Read more: a guide to Northern Lights – Europe’s largest CCS project
 


Bergen Carbon Solutions is developing mobile carbon-capturing facilities that can be shipped to factories and power plants across the world. Photo © Bergen Carbon Solutions

Greater Bergen – innovation, smart people, and green energy

While the founders are aiming to go international, the company’s headquarters will remain firmly in Bergen.

“It’s not for nothing that we’re called Bergen Carbon Solutions,” points out Sagmo. “There are a lot of benefits to being based in this region.”

According to the entrepreneur, this includes strong research institutions, and access to skilled workers from the local petroleum and process industries.

The region also boasts one of Norway’s top innovation ecosystems: “We are lucky to have so many organizations in Bergen that can help startups to get ahead.”

Last but not least, he mentions the abundance of low-cost, renewable energy that flows through Greater Bergen.

“The fact that we’re able to produce green carbon nanofibres, powered by clean energy from hydropower plants, is the perfect sales pitch for our company,” concludes Sagmo. 

 

Find out more about Greater Bergen’s energy industry

 



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