Skanor Group Ltd is a private investment company based in London with 25+ shareholders. It owns 91.04% of the Aeonian group, having international patents to produce biocarbon. Skanor Group Ltd will IPO (list on the stock exchange) in 2024, or later depending on the market conditions. In preparing for the IPO, Skanor Group Ltd is broadening its shareholder and capital base.
We started our journey into renewable biocarbon after identifying huge unaccounted for waste streams from forestry and wood industries in many parts of the world. Oftentimes, the waste is left on the forest floor, choking new growth, creating greenhouse gas emissions while decomposing, and increasing the risk of forest fires in dry seasons. The quest we took on was to find a way to handle these waste streams and transform them into a useful commodity. We choose to find a commercial way to transform this waste into a carbon store – aka biocarbon – which has multiple use cases. Four years later, we have been awarded two utility patents on a reliable and safe method. This method is called hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) and it was originally invented in 1913. Today it is used in multiple plants for transforming different biomass feedstock into bio-coal.
Aeonian was founded by Magnus Lind, Susanna Bondéus, and Louise Falevsky. Together, we analyzed current technologies to find a use for the increasing amounts of detrimental waste wood left on forest floors. We wanted to focus on real production in local communities to produce environmentally and socially sensible products to support local communities benefitting from their forestry industrial practices. Whenever we get the opportunity to support indigenous peoples’ habitat and customs, we will engage with them as suppliers and co-workers.
Biocarbon fits well with our ambition to create natural products that support a circular economy. Biocarbon is the most effective renewable solid biofuel product supporting the transition from fossil fuels. In parallel with our analysis, we evaluated market needs, market conditions, finance, and regulations. After 12 months, we were convinced of the substantial opportunity in commercializing biocarbon. We came to understand the underlying technologies required to overcome the challenges that exist in the biocarbon industry were developing a large-scale, manufacturing platform.
In the summer of 2019, Aeonian was established, and the Aeonian team expanded and started working with a development agency and R&D technicians in Sweden. Biomass processing technologies were commonly available, albeit they hadn't been applied to a commercially viable large-scale production of biocarbon. Aeonian’s process builds on those developed technologies. Together with Assistant Professor Kawnish Kirtania, Aeonian filed two utility patent applications for a biocarbon production process. Those patents have since been awarded and are now being rolled out internationally.
We defined a location in Vancouver, Canada controlled by First Nations who was keen to get Aeonian onboard and we contacted investors and government agencies. Susanna and Magnus were living in Malaysia at the time and Louise resided in the US. In the first quarter of 2020, the COVID lockdowns made it difficult to continue the Canadian option. Troy Hawkins (also in Malaysia) joined as an investor and advisor, and the team evaluated producing biocarbon from oil palm tree trunks (OPT), an abundant forest residue in Malaysia. The evaluation to use OPT as feedstock was positive, only halted by the very harsh lockdowns in Malaysia when new business ventures had to close. Magnus and Susanna left Malaysia in the fall of 2020.
In 2021 and back in Sweden, we discovered the market pull from the biocarbon for metallurgy, and specifically the green steel transformation, which is a Scandinavian “prioritized” market. Aeonian evaluated to pivot into providing metallurgical biocarbon, which is a more advanced product with high requirements on carbon content and cleanliness, meaning that a post-production process had to be added. Aeonian is preparing for the construction of the first factory, probably in the EU, before planning to roll out to more factories in North America.
Aeonian would not be where we are without tremendous support from Bob Fish, our patent attorney, Tim de Knegt, manager strategic finance at the Port of Rotterdam, and Alex Grots, inventor and business venture builder. They are also investors in Skanor Group Ltd. In 2023, Bart J. ten Brink joined as Non-Executive Director.
Since biocarbon is a natural product, it has many uses in a circular economy. The three main use cases are:
1. Create efficient renewable energy in the form of heat and power. Biocarbon has much higher energy density than wood and is the most ”advanced” bioenergy compared to burning wood directly in the form of white wood pellets, wood chips, or similar biofuels.
2. As component in the metals industry, e.g., in green steel production. When the steel industry transitions to using hydrogen, carbon is still needed for many of the processes. In fact, steel equals iron plus carbon. So, there is no truly green steel without renewable carbon and biocarbon is the only renewable source for carbon. Also, several other metals require carbon to be produced. The biocarbon for the metals industry has much higher requirements than for bioenergy.
3. As soil amendments by mixing it with biocarbon, which is very porous and "stores" water and nutrients. The water and nutrients leave the biocarbon when the soil is dry. There is a market for producing biocarbon and bury it to sell carbon credits (link). The biocarbon would serve as a true carbon sink.
Biocarbon is charcoal made from different sources of biomass feedstock, for instance waste wood, agricultural waste, or industrial sludge waste. Aeonian uses waste from forestry and the wood industries.
There are mainly two ways for producing bio-coal:
1. Dry roasting in an oxygen-starved environment. This method is called “torrefaction,” from the French word for roasting. The advantage is that torrefaction can create very carbon rich biocarbon that is also suitable as metallurgical biocarbon, however it has some challenges. For instance, if oxygen enters the process, fires can erupt, and the process requires high temperatures and pre-drying of the feedstock. For these reasons, torrefaction faces challenges in large-capacity production.
2. Wet boiling in a reactor, called HTC (hydrothermal carbonization), invented in 1913 by Friedrich Bergius, and awarded the Nobel Prize in 1931. HTC advantages include using lower temperatures and wet feedstock directly without pre-drying. Since the HTC process is wet, it is therefore intrinsically oxygen-starved and not prone to fires, leading to the ability to scale capacity easier. Its challenge is to create very carbon rich biocarbon and another ubiquitous process has to be added. HTC is Aeonian’s chosen technology (links: Compositions and methods for production of carbonized pellets from biomass and Carbonized char fuels from biomass).
The demand for biocarbon is much higher than the supply capacity. That situation will likely remain for a long time since the demand will continue to increase faster than new capacity will come into operation. This is Aeonian's opportunity since we have a scalable, tested and proven technology.
In Scandinavia, we expect demand in excess of 500,000 tons/year for metallurgical biocarbon alone. The bioenergy market outside of China is estimated to be more than 35,000,000 tons/year. The current global capacity for biocarbon is not fully known. According to our estimates, the current global biocarbon production capacity is less than 300,000 tons/year. This means there is a significant supply gap, and the capacity has to increase rapidly.
SKANOR GROUP LTD is currently the largest investors in Aeonian and have implemented multiple ways to limit the risks:
✓ Use existing and reliable technologies to enable large scale operations.
✓ The technologies are largely biomass feedstock agnostic, reducing powers of the suppliers and providing more factory location opportunities.
✓ Focus on a primary market of producing advanced bioenergy we know works, and can also be used as component for further processing into syngas and similar.
✓ Clients sign up for 5-15 years, in so-called ‘offtake agreements,’ which serve as security for the debt we will require to expand the number of factories. This fact reduces the financing risk when Aeonian grows.
✓ For Aeonian there are several government agencies and grants sharing the financial risks with the investors, with up to 25-50% of the investments.
✓ Aeonian owns intellectual property rights in the form of patents and know-how that is continually expanding and serving as a secondary value driver besides the future cash flows from the factories.
SKANOR GROUP LTD, AEONIAN INC., their Directors, and Management believe they have set forth reasonable assumptions, yet they provide no assurance that any “forward-looking statements” will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. You should regard all statements predicting the future and not historical fact as "forward-looking statements".