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Social Entrepreneur

328 EpisodesProduced by Tony LoydWebsite

Social Entrepreneur exists at the intersection of profit and purpose. We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.


A Former Oil Executive Transforms Waste to Energy, with Dave Goebel, enVerde

enVerde converts organic waste into sustainable clean energy.

The Office for Technology Commercialization (OTC) is the office at the University of Minnesota whose mission is to facilitate the transfer of technology to licensees. This allows for the development of new products and services that benefit the public good. It also fosters economic growth and generates revenue. Since 2006, the University has spun out 170 startup companies.

But there is a challenge. Technology transfer is not simple. For a venture to be successful, it must be desirable (the market wants it), feasible (an organization can produce a market solution), and viable (the cost structure and returns are sustainable).

There is a vast desert from license to commercialization. Research can create an idea that is desirable but is not viable or sustainable. It takes time to prove out and commercialize a technology. The time and effort to commercialize a technology is often called the commercialization gap.

On today’s episode of Social Entrepreneur, we talk to Dave Goebel, CEO and Founder of enVerde. enVerde has licensed a thermochemical catalytic technology from the University of Minnesota. The catalyst converts organic material into heat energy. enVerde provides circular economy solutions by repurposing carbon-containing waste into clean, sustainable energy and chemicals.

The Problem with Organic Waste

Every day, the average American generates 4.4 pounds of waste. That includes paper, plastics, yard trimmings, food waste, wood, rubber, leather, textiles, and more.

At the same time, the US Energy Information Administration predicts nearly 50% increase in world energy usage by 2050.

What if we could use organic waste to provide clean, renewable energy?

That’s the promise of enVerde. They are addressing the nearly infinite amount of organic waste and the growing need for energy. They do so in an environmentally friendly, cost-effective manner.

Waste becomes a resource instead of a problem.

“Waste is stored energy and we have a clean way to liberate, free, that energy for our use,” says enVerde Founder and CEO, Dave Goebel. “We economically transform organic wastes into a product called syngas. We also produce heat in the process. Both syngas and heat can be power sources for making electricity.

“Syngas is also convertible into new clean fuels like hydrogen, methanol, or dimethyl ether. It can be green precursor for other chemical processes displacing petroleum products.

“Agricultural, industrial, commercial, and other organizations decrease their operating expenses by significantly reducing their waste streams and creating clean fuels/heat they can use locally and immediately.”

Recent Successes

enVerde is finding some successes along the way. The inventor of the technology, Dr. Paul Dauenhauer won a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award. 

enVerde was also selected as a member of the next cohort with Creative Destruction Lab. Creative Destruction Lab accelerator program is based out of Calgary, Alberta.

Learn More About David Goebel and enVerde:

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