Ageratec pushes timely technology
Ageratec is a bio-diesel technology supplier with customers around the world. It started as a small family business in 1996. Since then, the demand for Ageratec’s solutions has grown rapidly – and the market for renewable fuels looks set to keep booming for years to come. The timing simply couldn’t be better.DATE 2017-07-12 AUTHOR Alexander Farnsworth
Back in 1996, David Frykerås was on leave from his job as a process engineer on oil rigs in the North Sea, Venezuela and Morocco when a farmer friend outside his hometown of Norrköping, Sweden, complained about the high price of diesel.
"So I started to develop a machine that could make bio-diesel fuel from used cooking oil or canola oil," says Frykerås.
Today, he is the managing director and prime owner of Ageratec, the small but steadily growing company of 50 people outside Norrköping that he founded to manufacture small-scale and modular bio-diesel processors.
There are only about three or four other companies in the world that make these kinds of machines. Ageratec’s goal is to deliver equipment processing raw material all the way to finished bio-diesel. Customers include farmers, recycling companies, oil companies, road transport companies and groups of financiers that want to produce bio-diesel.
After several years of fine-tuning the technology and living off savings, Frykerås sold his first machine in 2003 to Norway to produce bio-diesel from fish oil.
Since then, Ageratec has sold 76 machines to 18 different countries. This reflects the burgeoning trend towards using renewable fuels as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Growing sales in export market
Ageratec’s largest markets for bio-diesel processors are Sweden, Poland and Australia; 95 percent of the total sales value goes to export markets.
"We’ve never had as much interest in our company as we do today," says Frykerås. "I have three people on staff just to take care of a steady flow of daily visitors."
Many of the visitors are clients, who come to Norrköping from as far away as Mali, Honduras and Australia for a crash course in operating Ageratec’s bio-diesel processors.
Ageratec manufactures four sizes of bio-diesel processors – from the smallest P2000, which can make 2,000 litres of bio-diesel in 24 hours and fits in a small container, to the P24000, which can make two 12,000-litre batches a day and needs about four large containers to transport.
The bio-diesel processors can be easily adjusted to run on a wide variety of feedstock – from canola oil to used cooking oil, palm oil, soya oil, animal fat, fish oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, algae oil and jatropha oil. (Jatropha, which is indigenous to tropical areas, is resistant to drought and pests and produces seeds that contain as much as to 40 percent oil.)
Refining process without waste
In addition, Ageratec has a unique patented process that avoids washing the oil with water, which is a real sales argument in sub-Saharan countries in Africa and in Australia where water is a limited resource. The refining process is fully automated, consumes a low amount of energy (55-65 Wh per litre) and produces no waste, not even water.
"Our business idea is to use the least amount of chemicals in the process," says Frykerås. "And water is a chemical. No water in the process translates into one less worry in the application."
Ageratec´s customers include farms, or more often farming cooperatives, that need diesel for tractors and other equipment, municipalities that in some instances collect cooking oil from restaurants and schools and turn it into bio-diesel to fuel their vehicles, oil companies and transport companies.
"Our customers are not chemists," says Frykerås. "So we have built as much know-how as possible into our control systems." A user only needs to specify what raw material he or she is using. The rest is taken care of by the 57 computer-controlled parameters that dictate such things as temperature, pressure and volume, and in which order the ingredients should be blended.
Ageratec, it seems, is doing great. And the market for renewable fuels is likely to keep expanding as more and more businesses feel the need to take control of their fuel costs. Could this be the end of our dependence on fossil fuels? Frykerås doesn’t think so: "We won’t see zero oil imports in our lifetime, but maybe we will see a 20 percent reduction. That is fully possible."