Former petroleum engineers have set their sights on combating climate change by founding Myno Carbon, a company focused on utilizing the age-old carbon-trapping technology of biochar. Driven by a passion for sustainability and a desire to make a positive impact on the environment, Thor Kallestad, CEO and co-founder of Myno Carbon, launched the Seattle-based climate tech startup in 2020.
Myno Carbon is commercializing biochar, a charcoal-like substance with origins in ancient civilizations such as the Amazon. Biochar is produced through pyrolysis, a process that involves heating organic material at high temperatures in a low-oxygen environment, resulting in a carbon-rich material historically used to improve soil fertility.
The appeal of biochar lies in its cost-effectiveness for carbon removal. Myno Carbon’s biochar production addresses several environmental concerns by utilizing timber and agricultural waste, which prevents carbon from being released into the atmosphere. The resulting biochar can be used as a low-carbon fertilizer or soil enhancer for crops and even added to animal feed to reduce methane emissions.
In addition to its environmental benefits, Myno Carbon is integrating biochar production with clean energy generation. The company has already raised $5 million in seed funding to kick-start its operations.
Myno Carbon has partnered with Washington’s Department of Natural Resources, garnering support from public lands commissioner Hilary Franz. As the popularity of biochar as a carbon-capturing solution grows, the main challenge facing Myno Carbon lies in scaling the technology and establishing partnerships with existing infrastructure.
The company’s first carbon removal facility will be located in Kettle Falls, a small town in northeastern Washington. There, Myno Carbon will collaborate with Avista Utilities’ biomass and gas power plant, using 183,000 tons of timber waste per year for pyrolysis. The facility aims to produce 40,000 tons of biochar and 18 megawatts of steam power annually.
With plans for future expansion to Washington, Oregon, and California, Myno Carbon is seeking external investment to construct the Kettle Falls facility and initiate further projects. The facility is expected to be operational by mid-2025, and its biochar production is projected to remove 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.
Myno Carbon is also partnering with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University to develop carbon capture technology to reduce the environmental impact of the pyrolysis process.
Kallestad’s background in petroleum engineering has been instrumental in managing large-scale, high-risk projects at Myno Carbon. However, he believes that the fossil fuel industry must transition toward more sustainable practices, and Myno Carbon’s focus on biochar is a crucial step in that direction.