Clarus Carbon LLC, a startup located in Neenah, WI, has developed a pilot plant for its patented activated carbon production technology, and is currently designing a full-scale production plant.
THE BUSINESS START
Dr. Annamalai Karthikeyan, Ph.D founded Clarus Carbon in 2020, and is the President and Technical Lead; his son, Ashwinraj Karthikeyan (aerospace engineer), is the Plant and Production Manager. The two work together with their team on specialty-activated carbon production for filtration units and devices. Activated carbon is a nanoporous material with exceptionally high surface area for application such as water filtration, energy storage and medical devices.
Clarus Carbon LLC, a spin-off of Microionic Systems LLC, currently has investments of over $1.5 million to develop their state-of-the-art pilot plant for the production of activated carbon using any carbonaceous (carbon-rich) material. Their method is cleaner and provides higher quality and quantity of activated carbon, compared to current methods. Currently, they are focused on activated carbon for water filtration in city water plants and groundwater units. Having run several successful test batches in their pilot plant facility, they are moving quickly to gather the metrics needed for a full-scale production plant.
In other parts of the world, such as south and southeast Asia, carbon-rich materials like coconut shells are burned in open fields, before being processed into activated carbon and shipped internationally with little or no customer service. Clarus Carbon’s process to obtain activated carbon is more cost-effective, cleaner and has less waste. They use local raw materials like unused hardwood chips from the logging and firewood industries in northern Wisconsin. This means their raw materials are cheaper and have the added benefit of keeping “waste” materials out of landfills and in addition their products promote clean technologies.
Accomplishments with UW Oshkosh SBDC and CTC
- Ideadvance guidance
- Proposal review
- Pilot plant development
Their first-of-a-kind, specialty-activated manufacturing facility in Wisconsin using locally available resources will not only supply products to various filter manufacturers but also will serve several cities in Wisconsin for water filtration and treatment units and help to prepare the cities for emergency situations.
One of Clarus Carbon’s main objective is to manufacture several unique grades of activated carbon for advanced device applications. Using their carbon, prototypes of wound care dressing have already been developed by InMEDBio LLC. These dressings filter out pathogens that could cause infection in the wound. InMEDBio LLC is also working on air filters to remove pathogens from air and Microionics Systems LLC is working on tailored carbon blends for power storage devices, both using unique grades of activated carbon produced by Clarus Carbon.
The initial R&D at Microionic Systems LLC was partly supported by WiSys and the business scopes were surveyed under the Ideadvance program. “Idella Yamben at the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) was instrumental in helping us understand how to get from the lab to the business. She asked critical questions to help us move forward,” Dr. Karthikeyan said.
The team worked closely with Tom McDermott, a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultant at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. “Tom helped make our dream come true and gave us fundamental advice,” Dr. Karthikeyan said. “He helped review our proposals, and his previous business experience assisted us quite a bit. We met regularly with him, and he helped us to develop the pilot plant, he visits us quite often at our plant location.”
We look forward to all the developments in their emerging technology and to seeing what other types of purification and products this exciting technology can bring.