Mimergy is ahead of the posse in developing a technology that provides alternatives to incineration, reports Trish Dromey.
Longford company Mimergy can’t turn water into wine but it can transform unwanted waste tyres into valuable oil and chemicals, which might just be the next best thing to a miracle.
Currently at the development stage, Mimergy aims to be market ready at the end of next year with technology which turns waste tyres back into the components from which they’re made – carbon, oil, steel and high-value chemicals.
“At present waste tyre disposal is a major global environmental problem. Disposal methods include incineration to recover energy as well as turning tyres into crumbed rubber for recycling — but we have developed a unique technology which provides a clean and sustainable alternative,” says company chief executive and founder Niall Mimnagh.
He says that several companies around the world are working on developing this type of technology but believes that Mimergy is currently ahead of the posse.
“Every year Ireland has to dispose of 3.5m waste tyres and we currently pay to export over half of these for incineration elsewhere. Ireland produces just 1% of Europe’s waste tyres and 0.001% of the world’s which means that the global potential for this technology is enormous.”
Predictably, waste operators in Ireland are enthusiastically awaiting the availability of technology which is both environmentally sound and can save them money. Mimergy has already lined up a number of waste companies as customers who will pay it to take their tyres. It has also signed a number of large manufacturers as customers who wish to buy the bio fuel Mimergy will produce to heat their plants.
Mr Mimnagh started out as a fitter in the oil and gas industry and went on to qualify as an engineer. It was a love of motor sport and time spent racing cars, which made him aware of the waste tyre disposal problem.
Looking into existing solutions Mr Mimnagh decided that it should be possible to create a new one “Tyres are made primarily from rubber which is a carbon-based compound and I was interested in finding out if there was any way of extracting this carbon to make useful products.”
Using his knowledge of the oil and gas industry coupled with some research, Mr Mimnagh built a small proof-of-concept plant in Longford, working on it in his spare time.
When he found that he could make it work, Mr Mimnagh quit his job in 2012 and used his own funding to build a larger plant.
Two years later he signed up on Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Programme and secured approval for a capital grant from Longford Local Enterprise Office Currently working on the sixth version of the technology, Mimergy has had a busy year in 2015.
It accepted a place on Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start Up Programme and Mr Mimnagh entered Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition. Through to the national final of the event, he won the regional Best Start up business award and has collected €20,000 in prize money.
Currently using the services of a number of contract workers Mimergy now has a permanent staff of two.
“In the next 12 to 18 months we plan to create between seven and 10 green jobs and start selling to industrial customers in both domestic and overseas markets,“ says Mr Mimnagh.
Because of the high demand globally for sustainably produced materials, he is anticipating very strong sales of Mimergy’s biofuel once the company has launched on the market.
“Bio fuel produced from waste will help customers meet EU requirements to reduce their carbon footprint and can be supplied a fixed price unlike crude oil which fluctuates in price.”
In 2016, the company plans to raise €250,000 in private investment with the expectation of securing matching funding from Enterprise Ireland. This will be used to develop the company nationally and internationally.
Now involved in the patent process, Mimergy plans to license its technology to waste operators in Europe and the UK by 2017 and globally after that.
“We see this as a win win proposition – this technology can turn a low-value problematic waste stream into a high-value product.”
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