Bygen was created by two smart PhD students who developed a way to transform agricultural waste (think almond shells) into a valuable product.

Of course, there are other options, but the magic here is that they create a really valuable product, which most people (including me) have never heard of before, called activated carbon. Well, it turns out that this product is used as a filter in a whole bunch of industries from water treatment to food manufacturing and is a $15bn+ market growing at 15%+ pa. The additional benefit is that their process is much more precise so they can make the size of the holes in their “sponge” tailored to the specific application. As an example, the activated carbon they make can remove PFAS (a toxic and carcinogenic fire fighting chemical), which is a big contamination problem, from the soil and water near homes. Finally, the cherry on the cake is that this is a carbon negative process. Activated carbon is a highly specialised and upgraded form of biochar (ie charcoal) that sequesters carbon for a very long time (thousands of years) and producing it from organic waste (rather than traditionally coal) at lower temperatures all makes this a really climate beneficial solution.

In terms of progress, they have been running a pilot plant for over a year that has proven the process and the quality. They are in the final stretch of JV opportunities to run plants that will produce at scale. Beyond that, the model is to license the technology and make it hyper scalable as 90% of the equipment is readily available at very cost competitive prices. The smarts and controls become a plug and play add-on. Any producers of large quantities of waste (forestry, agricultural, food, plastics) are a viable licensee.

Customer Focus

Variety of potential clients from:

  • Companies with waste: growers cooperatives, agricultural processors, forestry companies, farmers, and even plastic recycling companies
  • Companies producing activated carbon that want to do it in a carbon negative and cheaper way
  • Manufacturers of pyrolysis equipment and producers of biochar and charcoal
  • End users of activated carbon that want to vertically integrate


Slow process to get the first plant finalised, but have jumped through most of the hurdles on that front, so focus is now on scaling.


So many beneficial impacts:

  • A lot of agricultural waste gets burned (the single largest source of black carbon emissions) and the majority of activated carbon is made from coal (4+ million tonnes of CO2 per year)
  • Activated Carbon is often produced in developing countries with exploitative conditions
  • Farmers can make money from their waste
  • Activated carbon end users can get access to higher quality products produced in a sustainable way

Report Card

  1. Team: Doers and achievers
  2. Product: Proven at medium size and ready to scale
  3. Market: $15bn and growing
  4. Momentum: lots of unsolicited demand for their product
  5. Impact: very significant for climate and growers/farmers

From The Founders

Company: ByGen

Themes: Ag, Energy, Water, Reduce emissions, Improve the environment

Summary: Sustainable and Tailored Activated Carbon from Waste

Country: Australia

Founders: Lewis Dunnigan and Ben Morton

Product stage: LaunchedAg,Energy,Water,Reduce emissions,Improve the environment


Capital raising: Two rounds: $350k and $1.2M.

Company Mission:

We want to rehabilitate the world's polluted soil, water, and air using our sustainably produced activated carbon. Our product is carbon-negative, being made from wastes from the agricultural and forestry industries, replacing the high-emission activated carbon made from coal currently available in the market. At the same time, our product can be used to help remediate polluted ground and water supplies, as well as dirty gases from industry.

Why the team wants to solve this problem:

Our team is passionate about innovation in the environmental sector and hope to completely revolutionise the activated carbon market by turning it from a carbon producing market, to a carbon withdrawing one.

What are other climate tech companies you admire:

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