Meet Michael Hofmeister- Winners of EX Venture Night! Turning Waste into Energy
MFC Turning Waste into Energy- presented by EX VENTURE
When you meet Michael Hofmeister, you are reminded of the time when Technology Startup meant inventing a fantastic machine and not an algorithm. This old school inventions challenge the limits of thermodynamics, mechanics, or only the human mind. Turning Waste into Energy!
Whenever we talk about Startups, we wonder what problem are you solving? Is it a luxury problem or a fundamental problem that needs to be solved.
Ocean Waste, Landfills, and overall the second life of our packaging, human waste, and plastics are among humanity’s most immense challenges. Michael and his small team are in the middle of solving the massive global waste problem.
20 YEARS IN DEVELOPMENT
Turning waste into clean energy has been Micheal’s mission since he was tinkering with a wood gasifier at his family farm over 20 Years ago.
The concept of Gasification has been around for over 100 Years, says Michael, when asked if he is the inventor of the process. There are already hundreds of machines in the field by other Manufacturers, but they focus on wood. Woodchips are not waste, he explains.
HIGH-TEMPERATURE GASIFICATION, RE-INVENTED
Gasification has the potential to solve the waste problems all over the world, even on a tiny scale, directly at your farm, for example, so you don’t need the significant infrastructure we know from municipal scale combustion units.
On-Site waste conversion on farms in India is what the MFC team is working with Tata Power, for example. There are numerous reasons why there are no solutions available now. The technology needs to be cheap, easy to operate, and safe at the same time. Combining Solar and Biowaste, for example, can power micro-grids beautifully.
Waste is a bio-chemical battery storage Michael is explaining. This is an effective system to convert the stored energy from trash when needed. This is the cheapest battery out there. Our units are turned on just when the sun is not shining. There are so many opportunities we sometimes don’t know where to start. The international demand is so high.
SOLVING WASTE PROBLEMS WITH TATA IN INDIA
While in the Western World, Waste Disposal is inefficient and could use massive upgrades, at least it is not mismanaged in a way that it ends up in the ocean.
About 71% of the Global Mismananaged Plastic Waste comes from Asia and the Pacific Region.
China, India, and South East Asie being the largest polluters. While larger Metropolitan Areas are slowly catching up with large landfills or incineration plants, rural areas and Islands are still lacking even the most basic waste treatment capabilities.
This is why we are working on projects together internationally. We take part in Cluster projects funded by the German Ministry of Economics. We are working with international partners to integrate our solutions all over the world. After 15 Years of working for some of the leading small scale waste2energy companies in Germany, Michael set up MFC in 2018 to go the last mile of developing the ultimate waste treatment system. We are doing a lot of R&D, patent filings, and so on.
THE DEVELOPMENT NEVER ENDS
We will keep bringing new machines to market frequently for years to come, says Michael. Today some solutions are ready for markets. Our machine to convert food waste into energy is ready to go. Every waste composition is different; at the end of the development, there will be a machine with maximum fuel flexibility. Right now, we still need to focus on selected waste streams. Knowing what is fed into the device does make it easier. This is essential to know turning waste into energy.
WASTE ENDS UP IN THE OCEAN TO OFTEN
At the latest, in the next rainy season, most human and plastic waste will end up in the ocean. For example, in Bali, people burn their waste either on fields or in open pits, creative massive black smoke that is highly toxic.
There are certain key benefits to the system. The process works at high temperatures of over 1200 Degrees Celsius, so there is no smoke. There were a number of technical challenges to overcome.
First was the issue of tar! If the temperature and or retention time is not high enough, we also generate an oil that is difficult to remove from the process. The oil is highly cancerogenic. If your gasification temperature is very high, the ash starts melting and blocks the reactor super quickly. The technical challenge we hade to solve is producing almost no tar while removing the minerals from the process. Explains Michael. I do believe we have that under control now. Over the last weeks, we have been running final tests using 100% straw husk as a few at the Technical University of Zittau, Germany. Straw is about as bad as it gets as a fuel; plastics are a lot easier, says Michael.
SOLVING MASSIVE TECHNICAL CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY
In a quick explainer, Michael goes on. In the first stage, a Syngas is generated. This gas is cleaned in an enclosed process. The Gas is used for small scale power generation through a Genset or even a Fuel-Cell System. The usage of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell is what Michael is working on with Researchers at Fraunhofer IKTS. This process brings the highest conversion efficiency possible, making waste a highly efficient energy source even on a tiny scale. Turning Waste into Energy.