Farm to Flame Vitality: How bio-generators present clear power to off-grid communities


Now that the Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem 2022 winners have been formally introduced, you’ll wish to be taught extra about every successful crew and the story behind every innovation. The Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem is a web based competitors that awards money prizes to early-stage tech entrepreneurs fixing the world’s hardest issues. Since 2017, the competitors has awarded $3.25 million USD to 78 startups from 25 international locations.

We’re excited so that you can be taught extra in regards to the 2022 successful groups addressing among the greatest challenges we face by means of technology-based options.

Farm to Flame Energy logoIn response to the rising urgency to reverse local weather change, we launched 5 new Local weather Impression and Regeneration prizes totaling $300,000 USD. These prizes acknowledge options that may scale back or take away greenhouse gasoline (GHG) from the setting or regenerate depleted ecosystems.

Farm to Flame Vitality is a Local weather Impression & Regeneration Prize Runner-Up, successful $50,000 USD. Primarily based out of the U.S., they’re constructing electrical energy turbines that use biomass waste as gasoline. I just lately sat down with Stefano Alva, Chief Monetary Officer (CFO) of Farm to Flame Vitality, who has a background in power science, expertise, and coverage. He shared extra about his crew’s revolutionary resolution.

What downside is your expertise resolution attempting to resolve?

Stefano: To resolve the issue of power poverty. Seven hundred million individuals worldwide nonetheless lack entry to a dependable electrical energy grid. This lack of entry means they’ve to search out different methods of getting electrical energy. And sadly, the most well-liked and handy resolution for individuals who stay off the grid is a diesel generator. So, diesel turbines are costly, they usually’re polluting. In Nigeria, they’re inflicting 1,500 deaths per 12 months as a result of fumes these diesel turbines create. It’s an enormous downside, and it most frequently impacts underserved communities.

Are you able to clarify how the answer works?

Stefano: We developed a bio-generator engineered to supply off-grid power. We rework mixed-wood particles, landscaping waste, and agriculture residues right into a carbon-rich powder that we combust to supply high-thermal effectivity warmth. Excessive-thermal effectivity warmth means we will extract a variety of the power throughout the biomass. We then use the warmth to create steam and run an alternator and a steam era unit. The place the innovation lies is in our capacity to make use of combined biomass waste to supply smokeless and odorless warmth from it.

We’re partnering with a greenhouse in New Jersey, Suppose and Develop Farms, to pilot our bio-generator, enabling them to cease utilizing fossil gasoline and be capable to supply their energy instantly from our unit. Suppose and Develop Farms helps a variety of native farmers and teaches them expertise on the way to transfer away from conventional farming and the way to be taught vertical farming, which is extra worthwhile. Ideally, Suppose and Develop Farms will probably be off the grid inside one 12 months, and utilizing different power will contribute to their dedication to sustainability and power effectivity.

Farm to Flame Generator and Storage Containerized Design
Farm to Flame Generator and Storage Containerized Design.

What’s revolutionary about the best way you’re fixing the difficulty? What units your resolution aside?

Stefano: When individuals take into consideration renewable power, they consider options like photo voltaic and wind energy, that are glorious options that I’m supportive of utilizing. The problem is that they’ve created this intermittency hole which implies that when photo voltaic and wind power are produced, the ability will not be fixed. It really works for sure eventualities, however for those who have to run their companies 24/7, this resolution doesn’t match their wants.

A approach to overcome this intermittency hole is to, for instance, have batteries. Nonetheless, introducing batteries to realize 24-hour energy turns into extraordinarily costly, 3 to 4 occasions what it prices to get their electrical energy from the grid. What units us other than different renewable options is the power to offer 24/7 inexpensive and renewable power that can be dependable.

What impressed you to develop this resolution?

Stefano: Farm to Flame Vitality was based by Will McKnight, Chief Income Officier (CRO), and Kwaku Jyamfi, CEO. They met at Syracuse College and determined to commercialize a singular combustion course of patented by Will’s grandfather, James McKnight. I met Kwaku at Carnegie Mellon College and was recruited to affix the crew. We have been all working at Carnegie Mellon’s Swartz Heart for Entrepreneurship, which helped us get our first-generation unit, which is a 280-watt unit that was in a position to mild a few lightbulbs.

I used to be born in Costa Rica, which is my private inspiration as a result of it’s a inexperienced nation targeted on renewables. 100% of their power comes from renewables, and I grew up with a naive understanding that the world was shifting on this course.

After I moved to the USA, it was clear to me that there was a lot extra work to be performed and that I might put ahead my effort and dedication to giving slightly little bit of Costa Rica to the remainder of the world. And past that, I believe the most effective present you may give somebody is entry to electrical energy.

There are all these off-grid communities worldwide, and accessing electrical energy is step one to accessing different requirements like healthcare, sanitation, higher jobs, and schooling. Accessing electrical energy can fully change an individual’s life and the long run that their households can have.

Co-founders of Farm to Flame Energy
L to R: Kwaku Jyamfi, CEO of Farm to Flame Vitality, and Stefano Alva, CFO of Farm to Flame Vitality.

How will successful a prize within the Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem make it easier to advance what you are promoting?

Stefano: Proper now, we’re within the strategy of testing our first industrial unit. This prize will assist us take a look at out this industrial unit efficiently and open the door for us to deploy extra items sooner or later. We’re grateful for this award as a result of it got here at a vital level the place we have now our first shopper that’s prepared and blissful and enthusiastic about seeing our expertise deployed, and the funds will assist us serve that shopper and show these shopper advantages.

Are you aware what you’ll use the prize cash for particularly?

Stefano: Will probably be used to maneuver our era unit from our manufacturing facility into the shopper area. We may even use among the funds to amass the required tools and rent somebody to function the equipment and check it out. We want this testing to safe certifications that show that our expertise is as much as the required electrical energy era requirements.

What recommendation do you have got for different social entrepreneurs?

 Stefano: There’s a little bit of a false impression that it’s important to comply with the cash within the startup world. I’d encourage individuals to rethink that and comply with the influence as a substitute. The remainder will come should you can develop expertise that improves individuals’s lives and the setting.


Keep tuned for extra articles in our weblog collection, that includes interviews with each Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem 2022 successful crew!

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