Nathaniel Energy Corp., (NEC) a tire shredder and manufacturer of a patented tire burning system, has received $1.8 million in private financing to expand its operations.
Some of the money also may go toward an as-yet undisclosed acquisition, the company said.
NEC has developed a proprietary system, called a thermal combustor, that can burn tires and trash for heat and power generation. The system burns at such high temperatures that the environmentally harmful by-products of tire burning are vaporized, said Cesar Muniz, vice president of corporate development.
Emissions from a thermal combustor pass all Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards, he claimed.
While it runs a tire shredding operation in Hutchins, Texas, NEC has been focusing most intensely on marketing its thermal combustor technology as a solution to the worldwide problem of scrap tires, Mr. Muniz said.
One obstacle in that quest is the cost of building a full-scale thermal combustor system, which NEC estimates at $35 million to $40 million, he said. That has led NEC to target specific types of applications-including greenhouses, cement plants and large manufacturing facilities-that can make the most use from what a thermal combustor has to offer, he said.
``It's got to be done where they can realize a return on investment almost immediately,'' he said.
NEC announced last year that it would build a thermal combustor to power a 20-acre greenhouse in Calhan, Colo., for Ripe Touch Greenhouses Inc. That project is on the verge of receiving permits to begin construction, Mr. Muniz said.
Greenhouses are ideal candidates to use thermal combustors, he said, because not only can they use the heat and electricity a thermal combustor generates, but they can use the carbon dioxide from burning tires to stimulate the growth of plants.
Thermal combustor technology can cut operational costs for greenhouses by 15 percent and increase production by 20 percent or more, NEC claimed.
Cement plants are also good candidates because of the massive amounts of electricity they require to operate, Mr. Muniz said. With their own power generation, cement plants would have plenty of electricity to operate and grow, and could sell any excess to local utilities at a profit, he claimed.
Thermal combustors can generate up to 25 megawatts of electricity, enough to power a town of 25,000, according to NEC. Such an operation would burn 30 million tires per year, the company estimated.
Because of the cost savings they create and the cheap and plentiful supply of scrap tires and garbage, a thermal combustor would pay for itself in two to three years, Mr. Muniz said.
To prove the viability and value of its technology, NEC plans to build a showcase thermal combustor in the Midwest, Mr. Muniz said. The pilot operation will generate 8-10 megawatts of power, burning tires and garbage for fuel, he said. He wouldn't disclose proposed locations for the project.