June 26, 2023
Fighting Energy Poverty Through Carbon-neutral Electricity Distribution
Kwaku Jyamfi (MS '20), chief executive officer at Farm to Flame Energy, is working to produce a low-cost energy solution for people who live in emerging areas of the world. His company creates clean, affordable energy from readily-available biomass waste.
The company is on track to create renewable on-site electricity at half of the cost of diesel fuel, according to Jyamfi. “The fuel completely combusts, so there’s no smoke or odor—and minimal ash.”
The idea came to Jyamfi as an undergraduate student, where he met the company’s cofounder. Together they discussed a process patented by the co-founder’s family—a new way to pulverize agricultural waste. This led to talk about using the waste to power-up developing areas in Africa and India. Jyamfi was especially interested in the implications this could have in providing increased access to clean water—which is dependent upon energy-using filtration systems.
“This is a low-cost energy solution that can be a primary source of energy or a back-up.”
“Energy poverty is a problem across the globe,” Jyamfi says. Five years ago, he built a small prototype device on his porch and saw that the idea could work. “This is a low-cost energy solution that can be a primary source of energy or a back-up.”
Jyamfi asserts that his company’s technology is more cost-efficient than generators that use solar, due to the high price (and low availability) of lithium-ion batteries.
He adds that his experience at CEE was beneficial in helping him to achieve the goal of launching Farm to Flame Energy. “Professor Emeritus David Dzombak was very supportive of me. I worked full time while double-majoring at CMU.”
Jyamfi adds that he was excited to let his professors know that the prototype he had built near the end of his studies was awarded an EPA grant to be upscaled into a commercial unit.
The company launched in 2018 and is now in a public funding campaign that’s fueling future investment and growth. Since its start, Farm to Flame Energy has won five entrepreneurship competitions, was awarded a New Jersey CSIT Seed grant, and secured an energy services contract with Georgia-Pacific, one of the country’s largest biomass electricity providers.
Farm to Flame Energy also caught the attention of The Richard King Mellon Foundation, which chose to invest in response to the company’s technology and its social impact focus. “We plan to stay in Pittsburgh and really want to grow here and provide meaningful jobs,” adds Jyamfi.