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Talking environmental innovation with Avertana CEO Sean Molloy

This article was published on 4 December 2019

With less than a week to go until C-Prize entries close, we asked one of our judges, Sean Molloy, for his insights on environmental innovation and tips for teams taking on the challenge.

Sean Molloy
Sean Molloy

Tell us about the environmental innovation at the centre of Avertana

Avertana’s technology recovers ‘stranded resources’ – valuable mineral and chemical raw materials – from industrial waste, which can then be used in products like paint and building materials. The technology is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution: not only consuming waste, but also avoiding the waste produced in making the products it substitutes.

In your opinion, why is it so important that businesses explore environmental innovation opportunities?

By simply scaling the technologies currently supplying the developed world, to cater for the growing needs of the developing world, we will exhaust resources and degrade the environment at an accelerating rate. In doing so, we will destroy the quality of life we are striving to provide. Changing the production model from linear to one based on circular economy principles, provides not only substantial environmental benefits, but also financial ones.

What do you hope to see in the entries from this year’s C-Prize teams?

First and foremost, it has to be solutions to problems that people or industry actually have, that will deliver a compelling financial return. The private market will not finance anything that doesn’t. When developing their solution, C-Prize teams need to consider the lifecycle assessment of their solution compared to existing solutions. We don’t want to be simply moving the problem somewhere else. A good test is, does it provide greater than a 50% improvement? The commercialisation path almost always erodes the savings as more definition is created. If there isn’t a big enough saving at the beginning, there may be none left at the end.


Entries close Sunday 8 December

Avertana - global award winners

Avertana has developed a patented extraction technology which turns steelmaking residues into essential raw materials: titanium dioxide, gypsum, alum and magnesium sulphate. These products are used in everyday applications including paint, building materials, water treatment, paper making and fertiliser. 

The company recently won a leading global engineering award, taking out the Sustainability category at the respected IChemE Global Awards, an annual worldwide competition for excellence in chemical engineering. Read more.