To help large emitters of greenhouse gases reduce their environmental footprint, we can offer them ready-made solutions. You can also settle in their homes to find tailor-made ones, as the Onym Group has decided to do.
Mustapha Ouyed, engineer, and Yvon Nadeau, entrepreneur, were both interested in renewable energies. They were aware of the concrete challenges posed by the energy transition in factories. They met “thanks to the chance of life”, recalls Mustapha Ouyed, and decided to work together to find suitable and affordable solutions for major greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters.
The Onym Group recovers urban wood residues, pallets and bark that nobody wants. It turns them into bio-oil, biochar or wood vinegar, which can either be used in industrial processes or sold as fertilizers.
“The recipe we have found is to start at the end,” explains the co-founder of the company. We went to the major emitters to find out what they need. We then took stock of what is available at affordable prices. ”
Wood residues, especially products from urban tree pruning, were chosen for their availability and very low cost. The recipe for reusing them is easier to find when you know the outlets beforehand. This is the bet that Onym is making.
The transformation goes through thermolysis, a known chemical process. “But we have developed our own way of doing things, which is patent pending”, specifies Mustapha Ouyed.
The Onym Group set up directly with a client, in a petrochemical plant in eastern Montreal, to put its idea to the test. There, he transforms residues that would otherwise be buried into products that can immediately be used at the plant to replace fuel oil, or into other products that are sold on the market. Wood vinegar, in particular, is a product that is increasingly in demand in agriculture, animal feed and the pharmaceutical industry.
The advantage of being installed at the customer’s premises is that you can reduce costs and recover residual energy, underlines the engineer.
The Onym Group’s business model is reminiscent of that of Enerkem, which wants to transform various residues into methanol and other biofuels. It’s true, admits its co-founder, but given the challenges of the energy transition, there is room for everyone. “We have to get off the ball,” he said. It takes several Onym and several Enerkem. We are there to work together. ”
To advance its project, the Onym Group received financial assistance from Fondaction ($ 975,000) and the Government of Quebec ($ 1.7 million). The company already has raw material supply agreements and customers for its products, and therefore revenues in sight. “The showcase plant will be used to test different kinds of biomass”, specifies Mustapha Ouyed. From five currently, the number of employees is expected to increase to reflect the progress of activities.
If all goes as planned, Onym will be able to build larger facilities, directly at or near its potential customers – which are steel plants, cement plants and refineries.