How Raj Bagri plans to Kapture carbon from diesel generators globally

How Raj Bagri plans to Kapture carbon from diesel generators globally

Kapture founder Raj Bagri.

Melbourne-based green technology startup Kapture has secured its first pilot customer for a product that sucks up carbon emissions from stationary diesel generators, releasing a non-toxic byproduct that can be sequestered in soil.

It took 18 months of research and development for Kapture founder Raj Bagri to develop a shell technology for the idea, which was bootstrapped until pre-seed funding support came recently from the Startmate accelerator program.

Bagri tells Business News Australia the Victorian Government has come on board as the first customer for a trial in collaboration with Johns Lyng Group (ASX: JLG), with a view to commissioning the technology in July.

"The Startmate funds were used towards designing the next version of the MVP (minimum viable product). We actually just completed the proof of concept trial and it was successful, and now we’re about to raise a $1 million seed round to move towards pilot scale demonstration," she says.

"They [Johns Lyng Group] actually own a lot of diesel generator fleets and their customers are T1 corporates, so we have a strong pipeline of customers by partnering with them."

Raj Bagri has a strong belief that the net-zero rhetoric globally does not match the reality around the world, with more alternative solutions needed to tackle emissions in their wide variety of forms.

While much of the focus on carbon capture to date has centred around large-scale emitters like coal-fired power plants and industrial operations, Bagri explains the impact of diesel generators is often overlooked.

"One in five people globally are dying from air pollution – if you look at some countries in Asia, you can’t breathe, and it’s all because of diesel generators," Bagri tells Business News Australia.

"Whole countries are running off generators of backup power. I truly believe this is why I’m on this planet - to make a difference through Kapture and really help solve the climate crisis.

"In terms of our potential customers, people would be surprised at how many sectors use generators – there’s mining, industrial, remote communities, the oil and gas sector, remote islands like the Maldives, music festivals, TV production, hospitals, hotels, the list goes on."

She notes the technology itself is retrofitted to a generator, and as the emissions pass through the filter they interact with a solvent - the "secret sauce" to capture emissions as a world-first product that "doesn't use any energy in the process to capture the carbon".

"This process is repeated until the solution inside the filter is exhausted, and once the filter is exhausted the byproduct can be sequestered directly in the soil," she says.

"It works works in a really similar way to biochar and the soil will lock away the CO2 permanently, and that’s it.

"It's a real solution, it’s affordable, customers will use it on site, and they can discard their byproduct into soil. We don’t need to collect it or store it underground, so we've completely removed that step."

Bagri is a prolific businesswoman who started out as a café franchisee with Halyard Coffee in Melbourne, before an exit that saw her venture into angel investing and another R&D-heavy leadership role at an infant formula company.

Along the way she learned a great deal about climate change and the practical imperatives that needed addressing, and her initial thought was to focus on diesel emitted by heavy trucks.

"I've worked in hospitality, and I could see a huge amount of emissions coming in through the exhaust pipe on a daily basis," she says.

"That's what I was originally targeting, but we weren’t getting much traction because those customers are not ready to reduce their emissions and are not incentivised at this point in time."

It was John Wood of NOAB Ventures, Bagri's Startmate mentor, who suggested diesel generators as the target market.

"That’s when we decided to change focus, and we had instant traction – quite quickly after that, we got our first customer, investors were really interested and everything took off from there," she says.

"I’ve felt like this was my purpose for a really long time and now it all makes sense – it’s really my mission.

"This isn’t just a business; with Kapture it’s my mission to give everybody access to reliable power and clean fresh air without comprising their health or the planet.

She adds Kapture is currently in discussions with Plug and Play Ventures in the US as a potential investor for its next round.

"They said their number one problem that their corporate customers are trying to solve is to decarbonise their diesel generators; no one wants to turn their generators off. So renewables, grid power or batteries are not doing the job, and also there are a lot of restrictions around grid power in the US for example.

"With our technology, whilst each single emitter is small, when you combine the emissions from all the generators they're going to make a really big impact because globally there are more than 120 million commercial diesel generators, and the emissions are equivalent to over 4,000 coal fired power plants spread across millions of sites.

"Generators are not going anywhere, and we really need to decarbonise them."

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